North Lancs Division One
BIRCHFIELD 10-37 GARSTANG
Garstang started the year in style on Saturday as they finally got their elusive first win on the road with a five-try, bonus point victory.
The game was originally due to have been played on December 13 but was postponed. With both games not having played in the league for four weeks the game was, perhaps understandably, littered with mistakes early on. However, Garstang soon got on top and it was little surprise when they opened the scoring as Ben Kelsall raced in at the corner (0-5).
From the restart Garstang coughed up possession and conceded a silly penalty which Birchfield converted to immediately reduce the deficit (3-5). Birchfield were buoyed by this score and they started to dominate field position as their full back used his classy kicking game to peg Garstang back in their own half. Their rangy left winger was causing the defence problems and it was little surprise when he went over in the corner to give Birchfield a 10-5 lead.
Garstang rolled their sleeves up and came right back at Birchfield to score an outstanding try. They got a line out thirty metres from the try line which they won and then mauled the ball all the way to the line to allow John O’Brien to go over. It may not have looked as exciting as some of the scores seen in recent weeks but it was technically excellent and comes as a result of hours of work on the training pitches (10-10).
With half time approaching Garstang were once again attacking but not really making any headway. Kieran Davies decided that he may as well attempt a drop goal and he struck a beauty from the ten metre line which sailed through the uprights to give Garstang a narrow 13-10 half time lead.
Garstang had struggled with their fluency in the first period and they knew that they would have to up their game to secure the win. The opening exchanges of the half could not have gone any better as Garstang strung together their best phased possession of the game. A line out was won, ball was spread out and recycled several times before Stuart Dawson popped the ball to Dave Miller who smashed over from close range. Jimmy McLennan added the extras to extend the lead to 20-10.
Shortly afterwards McLennan slotted a long range penalty and Garstang had established a stranglehold on the game with a 23-10 lead.
Garstang had the benefit of a game over the festive period and their fitness and cohesion was much better than Birchfield’s as the game went on and they secured the try bonus point with just over ten minutes to play as Pat Haley was the beneficiary of another great driving maul from the line out (10-30).
With a few minutes remaining John Robinson made his comeback from injury and it looked like he may even score on his return as Josh Knowles made a searing break through the midfield. He raced towards the line and had Robinson outside him who looked a sure fire try scorer if he received the pass but Knowles saw that the defender was hanging out wide so he cut inside and raced over the line unchallenged for a great score (10-37).
Both teams are at home with the 1st XV playing Burnley and the Blues against Thornton Cleveleys 2nds on January 10. KO at 14:15.