A game played with full commitment from both sides in tiring conditions.
Unseasonably warm autumn sunshine over MV.
Two teams with similar playing styles met each other on Sunday at a Finny Bank Road Ground bathed in unseasonably warm autumn sunshine.
The conditions set up a match where free flowing running rugby would flourish and of course what we got was completely the opposite, with both teams keeping the ball tight and a bruising forward’s battle ensued.
To be fair both teams were playing to their strengths up front. Trafford had the advantage at the set plays notably at scrum time, rucks were relatively even but it was Wirrals’ driving play and superiority in the maul that ultimately won them this game.
The first score came after only five minutes with Trafford winning a line out on their twenty-two, but the resulting clearance was charged down and Wirral gambolled into the corner to lead with the unconverted try.
Trafford responded quickly from the kick off with the forwards creating pressure off a scrum for Muzzy to rumble over under the posts – good teamwork in the forwards created the score, which was converted for Trafford to take the lead.
Wirral pushed from the restart with concerted pressure matched by Trafford’s robust defence. Muzzy ripped the ball to end this phase of Wirral dominance and the break created the line out from which again the Trafford forwards sealed possession and pushed on from there to allow Muzzy to break free for his second try. The conversion puts Trafford ahead 14-5.
Wirral then fought back and in a rare passage of open play they kicked deep to cause confusion in the Trafford ranks at the back, with the Trafford defence isolated their clearing kick was charged down to create a loose ball which was gratefully gathered by the on charging Wirral player to create the converted score for the visitors.
Straight from the re-start Wirral were back up again – they were building good momentum and Trafford were struggling to hold them. Their back line fired and the chance was created from the wing for Wirral as Trafford were out numbered. Score in the corner with the try unconverted.
Half-Time: Trafford 14 – 17 Wirral
Trafford missed the opportunity to strike back immediately after half time, with a stunning break by the forwards thwarted by the last pass being knocked on short of the try-line.
That may have been the turning point as Wirral galvanised their driving play against a Trafford pack now being blunted through injury and the effect of repeated defensive efforts in the day’s heat.
Wirral were on top and camped in Trafford’s half – Trafford were defending with purpose here right through the team, the backs were up quickly and cutting tackles were being made time and time again by the lads.
But, it was only a matter of time for Wirral to mount a successful attack and it came from a rolling maul from the line out after another hasty clearance from Trafford. The defending team had little answer to the force of the drive and the score came in the corner for Wirral – a try not converted.
And again they came - Wirral had a game plan in this second half and a familiar driving formation from them resulted in a penalty this time and the three points were gratefully taken by Wirral’s kicker.
Bogged down by their defensive efforts Trafford lacked variety in attack now and with the scoreboard advantage Wirral’s game became more rounded and their backs started to threaten.
Substitutes were made to freshen things up for Trafford, but still Wirral advanced. A great try saving tackle by Greg Warren from a break by Wirral down the wing put off a certain score, but it came from the resulting line out as Wirral dived over to put the match beyond Trafford. An unconverted try to make the score 14-30 with ten minutes left.
Trafford showed great resolve, stamina and aggression here and rather than wilting they reversed the momentum of the match, pushing for a score late on. They had the possession and territory in the closing minutes and got reward for their efforts as the Captain Tom Quealy burst through for a try from the last move of the match. Greg Warren completed his third conversion.
Final score: Trafford 21 – 30 Wirral
A game played with full commitment from both sides in tiring conditions. The match was refereed very well and the spirit and sportsmanship of both teams was commendable.
Congratulations to Wirral. They were strong and dogged – they deserved the win. Well done to Trafford as well who despite their frustrations kept going to the end but just lacked that inspirational spark on the day to upset the visitors.
Trafford MV Man Of The Match: Greg Warren