U15s left frustrated at Marple
By Richard Culver
A stuttering performance at Marple against a Spartans side who rode their luck and took advantage of some poor decision making to burgle a win
A clear but chilly morning, 17 players to choose from, but missing a few too, this was a tricky morning at Marple, where the home side capitalised on some individual errors to claim what looked at times an unlikely win.
Cold hands meant that retaining ball was challenging for both sides early on, MV guilty of spilling ball in contact on a couple of occasions and Spartans guilty of trying to force the ball wide too quickly.
The MV approach looked better suited to the conditions, and Spartans conceded a couple of early penalties for high tackles and sealing off, as the MV pack began to get on the front foot, with Jacob and George looking sharp, and Ethan and Will dominating the breakdown.
However poor kicking meant that the penalties where wasted, with touch finders sliced and those that did find the touchline the lineout just didn't work and poor throwing gifted away possession.
Jacob came close to opening the scoring, but last ditch, if slightly high tackling kept him out after Cian and Ethan had created a gap.
Will looked to have opened the scoring, a strong drive from the 5 metre line saw him cross and ground, but rather bafflingly the play was called short by the Spartans touch judge after the try had been awarded.
Azzanne had a good break but was stopped short by a strong cover tackle, before George finally broke the deadlock, following a nice pass from Ethan following another Spartans transgression.
The away side had a strong shout for a penalty try, Dan broke and fed Oli who was bundled into touch with a tackle on the 5 metre line which was clearly neck and head high. The decision given was a Spartans line out and they were able to clear.
Spartans were now buoyed, instead of being 19 points down, they were still in the game, and a short range lineout was the platform for them to grab a late first half try, 5-7 at half time.
MV started the second half brightly, a strong maul took them deep into the Spartans half but was brought to ground, inexplicably, the decision favoured the home side, and another chance went begging.
Spartans were penalised for going off their feet but again MV failed to find touch, instead they found the Spartans wing, and he brushed off some weak tackling to score in the corner. 10-7.
The MV lads were starting to lose their heads as decisions went against them, Charlie B was having a tough time at 9, continually played at the breakdown whilst both sides were lucky not to see yellow cards awarded for high tackles.
Cian and Oli applied a good chase to a clearing kick and the Spartans wing found himself under a high ball, He knocked on, Cian gathered and cantered in under the posts to allow Jack to extend the lead to 10-14 with around 15 to play.
Azzanne made a good break and MV should have scored, but he took the ball back into traffic with Oli open on the wing.
The decisive score followed shortly after. Tom was penalised for a very high tackle and the resulting penalty was drilled deep into the corner, but missed touch, Alastair fielded the ball but played a forward pass to try to escape trouble. Spartans were now deep into MV territory and a couple of phases were repelled, and Jack had the opportunity to clear, but his kick was charged down and MV dropped on the ball to secure the 22, only to see that the referee had awarded a Spartans a scrum for a knock on by Jack.
Spartans won the scrum and played the ball back into the MV defensive line, the attacked was brought to ground a yard short and held on for an age, then knocked on and the loose ball was dropped on over the line after MV tried to play out. Bizarrely a try was awarded, and Spartans lead by a point at 15-14.
The last 5 minutes were condensed to a final play, and Spartans celebrated the win as the MV players struggled to hold their emotions.