Trafford MV fall short in a scrappy match dictated by the poor conditions and won by a dogged Wirral display.
It was a cold and wet afternoon and Wirral were more up for the fight than MV early in this encounter, none the less Trafford stayed in touch and had their chances to win this one but ultimately failed to turn second half pressure into points as the Wirral defence shut them out.
Wirral commanded the break down in this match as Trafford uncharacteristically lacked the initial intensity and aggression up front which has marked the team’s play over recent weeks. MV changed the game plan as a result and looked to move the ball and kick for territory, but the conditions were against this faster paced handling game and mistakes were prevalent with Wirral’s defence was too strong for any significant attacking opportunity to emerge for Trafford in the first period.
The only notable Trafford break in the half was an early kick through by Trafford covered by the Wirral defender in goal as Ethan P quickly closed in. The first period then descended into a bruising encounter played out in the middle of the park amongst the muck and sludge of a ground which was cutting up. The boggy conditions suited Wirral’s play better today but Trafford stayed in the fight with strong tackling and closing down of any Wirral break, including an excellent cover tackle by Joe H to thwart a Wirral attack which looked like a certain score.
Both teams resorted to the odd kick for touch to gain territory advantage. Wirral’s driving maul was a serious weapon for them all day and off a line out mid way through the half we saw it in full flow - pushing the Trafford defence back at pace and over the line for the try in the corner. No conversion from this far out. 5-0 to Wirral.
Trafford came back, but their territory advantage before half time yielded only a penalty for Wirral being off-side which Greg duly converted.
Half Time: Wirral 5 – 3
As the second half started, MV jolted into action, picked up the pace of their play and attacked with increasing threat. Their set plays started to function better and they were holding their own in the pack. This created a stronger platform and with a functioning line out re-emerging so the chances came.
The first clear opportunity for Trafford was knocked on as the ball moved through MV hands a few yards out, the second was well turned over on Wirral’s line and the third was interrupted by the referee’s whistle as Trafford closed in after repeated phases of good possession.
Trafford started to mix things up a bit, but Wirral’s defence was very impressive and they stayed tight on Trafford to snuff out the momentum the visitors were building. MV became increasingly frustrated and the penalty count grew against them, ceding advantage back to Wirral who now created opportunities of their own with some enterprising play from their backs to win territory and using the driving maul again to good effect.
Trafford defended well themselves though and the contest swung back again to MV as the half closed – the visitors gained territory and pressed for the advantage on the Wirral five-metre line. Wirral were defending for the match here and held Trafford at bay, but a side entry at the maul drew the penalty for MV. A difficult kick, but with the memories of the previous week still with the team they went for the posts and only narrowly failed to convert.
Wirral cleared from the drop out, they held territory to keep Trafford at bay in the closing seconds and delivered a scoreless second half.
Final Score: Wirral 5 – 3 Trafford MV
In horrible conditions both teams did exceptionally well, but Wirral’s dogged play particularly in the first half won the wrestling match and their defence stood up throughout the second period for the deserved low scoring win.
Credit to MV here, this was one of their weaker performances of the season, they looked as if the last few weeks intensive efforts had taken its toll on some and the side was missing a couple of lads due to injury and commitments. But they held in there with increasing grit to ultimately give themselves a real chance in the match. They nearly made it as well, but the ball just got away from them in conditions which suited the Wirral set up better on the day.
Well done to Wirral for getting this match on and to the referee who kept a very tight control of things in the inclement conditions. A game played in freezing cold but in a good spirit none the less.
From a match perspective MV enter hibernation now over the Christmas period – returning to competitive duties on the 10th January - time to recover from a demanding run in the Colts League and to reflect on just how far this team has come.
Trafford MV are a match for any team in this league and after a slow start results have started to flow. The disappointment of narrow defeats in the last two matches is a function of the self-belief the squad now feel as to their potential. The rest will do the lads good now and will allow the squad to return fighting fit for the challenges of the New Year.
Trafford MV Man Of The Match: Joe Hambleton
Go to latest league information.
Report by Adrain