Heaton Moor 22
Garstang welcomed Heaton Moor to Hudson Park for the opening league fixture of the season.
With the mini section of the club having a pre-match training session, the 2nd XV also playing against Wigan thirds and the added incentive of a Sausage and Cider Festival there was a superb atmosphere at the club with almost 200 people in attendance.
Garstang knew that the match itself would be a difficult task against a Heaton Moor side who have plied their trade in a higher league for the past five seasons.
Heaton Moor started the game well and their heavy pack, allied with their tall quick, rangy back division, began to test the home defence and they eventually earned a penalty within kicking distance.
The kick fell short but when Garstang ran the ball back it was turned over, Heaton Moor ran it back and went through the phases to score a well worked try which was duly converted (0-7).
It was obvious that the opposition were a well drilled, organised outfit but Garstang were in no mood to lie down and they continued to give as good as they got throughout the half.
Eventually they managed to maintain a period of pressure with Miller, Whitaker, Billington and Ford all punching holes through the defence.
This pressure eventually told and Ford was able to batter his way over from close range to get Garstang right back into the contest (5-7).
With the crowd behind them this score should have signalled a fightback. However, a lapse in concentration from the kick off enabled Heaton Moor to break upfield.
They retained possession well and scored in the corner to leave the score as 12-5 to the visitors at the break.
The game was effectively closed out 10 minutes into the second half as Heaton Moor added a further two tries to extend their lead to 22-5.
It would have been easy for Garstang to lie down and take a heavy beating at this point but this group of players were in no mood to do that and they were tackling and defending as if their lives depended on it.
The young wingers Riley and Rowbottom did not get many opportunities with ball in hand but when they did they always made decent ground with Rowbottom always looking to keep the ball alive.
In the closing moments of the game Garstang strung together their best passage of play and the ball was spread between the forwards and backs before a hole was created for Parkinson to plunge over from close range.
McLennan added the extras to close the score to 22-12.
There wasn’t enough time left for Garstang to win the game but they still had one last opportunity for a score which would have given them the bonus point.
However, it wasn’t to be and the game ended with Garstang as gallant losers and Heaton Moor as deserved winners. Adam Nickson won the Man of the Match award for a dynamic, energetic performance at Scrum Half.
After the game Head Coach Gavin Barton said “I am proud of the way the boys played today. Heaton Moor were a big, experienced team but Garstang showed incredible commitment and resilience and fought to the very end.”
Speaking about the day as a whole Club Chairman Andy Riley said “We have made it our priority this year to increase our presence in the community by having special events that specifically involve the local community coming to the Rugby Club and watching live rugby for the first time. Our focus, and motto, this year is “Together we are Stronger” and that is as a team, a club and a community.”
Team: Miller, Johnston, Raby, Jolleys, Parkinson, Whitaker, Billington, Ford, Nickson, Dawson, Rowbottom, McLennan, Chaplin, Riley, Robinson. Replacements: Orr, Hindle, Barton.