All Upside Down
An unusual sight, on a gusty November Sunday, greeted us as we arrived at Finneybank Road. A game of Australian Rules Football was in full swing on th
All Upside Down
An unusual sight, on a gusty November Sunday, greeted us as we arrived at Finneybank Road. A game of Australian Rules Football was in full swing on the first-team pitch.
Not something you expect in deepest Trafford - Short sleeved, tight shorted, long limbed antipodean gentlemen throwing a small fluorescent rugby ball around with no apparent reference to any rules at all – none the less they appeared to be having fun, so we left them to it and concentrated on the very serious matter of the return Trafford versus Leigh encounter using a larger, whiter, rugby ball.
Trafford were coming off the back of their first win of the season and Leigh always pose a great threat with a ruthless physical game and dangerous backs. We were in for a high intensity encounter and we certainly weren’t disappointed.
Ultimately it was the team with growing confidence and the momentum of belief that won through – and in the end with some aplomb – Trafford were the victors, edging the vital areas of the encounter with a co-ordinated blend of aggression and panache that signals a team that are beginning to deliver the end product which had eluded them for so long earlier in the season.
Trafford set their stall out early. In conditions which were only marginally muted from those Caldy the week before a wind blew in favour of Leigh in the first half, but Trafford were straight on it from the off.
Great forward play with good off loading set up a series of phases for Trafford and with the ball spun speedily off the base of the ultimate attacking ruck, Greg was set up in space to allow the darting break through Leigh’s defence for the opening converted try. Only a couple of minutes played but Trafford had opened with intent, 7-0.
Leigh came back, but Trafford’s defence was strong. The backs were drilled and the forwards ferocious in the loose. MV had the set plays under control with Alex Taylor displaying good old fashioned hooking skills to the max in the scrum and throwing an accurate dart to command the line outs – a great performance by the MV number 2.
But Trafford’s dominance was outdone by sturdy Leigh defence and it was easy for the away team, in this half, to win back territory in the wind with a boot from deep. Leigh then found some rhythm and settled. They established a foothold in the match and with Trafford conceding far too many penalties as the half wore on so the visitors looked dangerous as the ball started to move well through their backs.
One of Trafford’s misdemeanours at the breakdown saw the penalty conceded just outside the twenty-two and with the conversion so Leigh had the first points. The Leigh attacking pattern was repeated as the half closed and still MV gave away the unnecessary penalties at the breakdown, but Leigh couldn’t turn that error count into any more points as Trafford’s defence closed down space quickly and a late shot at goal was missed by Leigh’s fly-half.
Half time. Trafford MV 7 – 3 Leigh.
Trafford moved it back up a gear as the second period started, with the wind now at their backs, so the kicking game from fly half and scrum half replaced the recycling and antirational tactics of the first. MV had territory dominance and a high tackle by a Leigh defender saw a penalty awarded to Trafford with Greg converting to gain reward for the pressure. 10-3.
The points cushion allowed Trafford to free up play further – the backs had a new confidence and the forwards display was again strong. Nico, Luke, Muzzy and Ethan were hunting in packs now, winning good ball and creating pressure. The flanker’s defence was cutting and firey – Adam and Tom S in hard where it counts.
All MV now - A penalty conceded to Trafford, within kicking distance. But the mark of confidence saw the team elect for the line out (much against the watching spectators advice) which was won to create the rolling maul with Ethan peeling off bullishly from the back to score the try (what do we know!). No conversion, but strong powerful Trafford play. 15-3
Trafford’s backs were now controlling the midfield and with Ross gaining good yards and finding attacking line out positions with his box kicking, the platform was strong. Leigh were struggling to contain the attacking threat of the home team.
Tom Q was strong of the base of the scrum all day and the hard yards were converted, after another rangy run with a ball pinged out to Greg to see him scoring his second try of the day. Greg converts his own score, clear daylight now. 22-3.
Leigh picked up a couple of injuries in the bruising encounter and we moved to uncontested scrums for the last ten.
Trafford’s centre’s and wingers started to see more attacking ball and a tap penalty close in saw the ball go through successful phases in the attacking twenty-two for MV. The backs spun the ball out wide and Joe H now joins the attack from full back to score the converted try. 29-3.
The Trafford boys were enjoying this, but Leigh fought hard to the end and created a much closer feel to the game than the score ultimately suggested. Leigh were as tenacious as ever, but Trafford had the upper hand and in a fitting finale Ross clipped a perfectly weighted kick over the heads of the Leigh defence to meet a superbly timed run from Dave to see him dive over onto the ball for a try in the last play of the game. Just reward for the hard working MV centre. No conversion, but a fitting way to end a marvellous Trafford display. 34-3.
Final score 34-3.
So, as our Aussie friends fired up the Barbie (yep, in November!) on the next pitch it was Leigh’s world that was turned “upside down” today with Trafford sealing the well deserved win.
Well done to Leigh on a sporting performance in a hard fought contest. A match well supported and very well refereed. The score was potentially slightly flattering to Trafford in the end but it was ultimately just reward for a season of performances in similar vain without the results – it just shows what a little bit of confidence brings.
The turnaround continues, for now, tough weeks ahead for Trafford though with difficult fixtures but a good foundation to work from and off the bottom of the league - onwards and upwards as we retired to the new posh Trafford clubhouse for a few tinnies. A G’day Mate!
Trafford MV Man Of The Match: Greg Warren
Report by Adrian