MV Spring From Hibernation To Victory
Trafford win, but pushed all the way by an impressive Whitchurch team.
Trafford MV RFCC Junior Colts 29 v 21 Whitchurch RFC Junior Colts
After five-weeks without a match Trafford had to work hard to see off a spirited Whitchurch team in this league bowl quarter final.
The effects of Trafford’s long lay off could be seen right from the off, with the mistake from the visitors kick off gifting an attacking line out, from which Whitchurch built possession and crashed over for the converted try with less than a minute gone. 0-7.
Probably the wake up call MV needed, complacency would be very dangerous here against the League B outfit that showed menace in the forwards and talent throughout their side.
Eventually Trafford settled and pressed with phases of possession in the Whitchurch half. The MV forwards built pressure inside the twenty-two, but Whitchurch held firm until the quick attack to the blind side off the ruck saw Dave Cunliffe finishing the move in the corner with the try after a well timed support run. No conversion. 5-7.
The game ebbed towards the first-half mid point, but Trafford had the upper hand in the loose and secured good ball with Tom Shilito to the fore at the break-down. An infringement by the visitors gives MV a return on their control here and Greg Warren slots the penalty to give the lead to the home side. 8-7.
Spring had arrived at Macpherson Park, as the sun shone so the teams battled it out in a highly enjoyable competitive affair and it was two moments of individual brilliance that further lit up the closing exchanges of this first half.
Firstly Greg Warren for Trafford with a jink back into the blind side in midfield to break two tackles, chip over the charging defence and run on to his own kick to out sprint the Whitchurch backs and score in the corner. Magnificent try, matched by his own conversion from out wide. 15-7.
Then the Whitchurch No.8, picks up from the base of the scrum in midfield – he evades the lunging Trafford defensive tackles and out sprints the defensive cover to score. A very strong, impressive run from the big Whitchurch lad for the converted try. 15-14.
Nice and tight at half-time. 15-14.
The second half starts with concerted Whitchurch pressure. They control possession and camp in Trafford’s twenty-two. Infringements by Trafford deliver a series of attacking line outs to the visitors from the penalties – MV repeatedly chose not to contest the throw in but gain no advantage in the resulting maul and Whitchurch get nearer and nearer to the line.
Trafford’s close in defence was absolutely first-class, ultimately the tries won the game but the foundation was here. MV’s defence on the line was excellent, tenacious, spirited and dogged from all the lads - eventually Trafford get the turnover and clear up field.
Trafford enjoy the breather, with possession in Whitchurch’s half they build phases. But Luke Cox takes a bad one and lies injured after the ruck. The game stops as the big Trafford forward lies motionless – looks worrying. The physios do their work – he starts to move on the ground, then rises slowly, then stands, then loosens his limbs. The medics check him out – no head injury, fit to continue – he stretches, jogs off and remarkably re-joins the attacking scrum to lead the charge to the line and score under the posts for Trafford. Converted. 22-14.
Luke’s Lazarus like recovery continues as Whitchurch win the re-start and press immediately to break for the line – the push over is held up though and Luke emerges from the bottom of the pile with the try saving tackle and hand under the ball. Decent magic sponge performance by Trafford’s medics and an excellent performance by Master Cox.
Whitchurch had the upper hand in the set plays throughout this match and looked to use their nippy backs to decent effect. But David Cunliffe closed down the space leading the defensive line speed to eradicate the threats. Trafford continued to be magnificent in defence, the turnover count was impressive and the forwards, led by the captain Tom Quealy, made the hard yards as they broke of the base of rucks time and time again to gain territory.
Whitchurch continue to press though and Trafford’s defence is tested again as the second half passes the mid way point – but Trafford hold firm once more, despite a yellow card and Trafford going down to fourteen, Whitchurch couldn’t penetrate. Yet another turn over by Tom Shilito wins the penalty on Trafford’s five metre line, Ross Dunleavy sees the space sets Ethan Cornick off on a trademark bullocking run which draws in the visitors defence – great support by Ethan Pearce on the wing is rewarded with a lovely pass out by the second row to release the speed merchant in for a try from his sprint from half-way. Converted. 29-14.
Both teams fatigue somewhat as the match closes in the warmer temperatures than of late and the game is played out in mid-field, but Whitchurch get their reward for a committed display with the last play, again their No.8 breaks the line and a tired Trafford defence, drained by their efforts, put up meagre resistance. The deserved Whitchurch try is converted and the match ends.
Final score, Trafford MV 29 – 21 Whitchurch.
A good game – refereed to a very high standard. No contention and good control of the lads. The sun shining and a great Whitchurch support made for a fine atmosphere and the lads delivered an entertaining knock out match. Whitchurch pushed Trafford here – however the defensive performance from the home team set up the win.
So onto the semi-final for Trafford. Competing in both the Lancashire Cup and League Bowl semi finals over the coming weeks – hopefully this one will have woken the team back up and they can build on this victory to deliver some silverware as reward for their efforts throughout the season.
Trafford MV Man Of The Match: Tom Shilito
Report by Adrian Dunleavy