With a couple of injuries in the ranks over the past 2 weeks, and other commitments; some minor adjustments needed to be made to the Cheshire team for this semi final fixture.
The last time Cheshire hosted Lancs on 19/3/17 @ Lymm RUFC, the home team dominated performance, leading to the 41-7 result that importantly achieved the team’s primary objective in gaining promotion. A similar dominant Cestrian performance resulting in 35-5 win v Notts / Lincs / Derby on 2/4/17 at Wilmslow brought about this semi at Park against Lancs once more.
Not being complacent Cheshire knew Lancs would be ‘throwing the kitchen sink’ at this game bringing to Park, a very different team and a very different game plan. They did not disappoint. With 9 changes to the team sheet, again man for man the Cheshire forwards were against their larger counterparts, and a much more effective challenge from the refreshed Lancs back line who kept the ball alive searching for a channel as they put width on every ball as they sought out their play makers.
Once more however the young Cheshire forwards dominated the constantly reversing Lancashire scrum, Lancs lucky not to concede more penalties from their many set piece infringements as they ‘popped up’, ‘broke binds’ and generally could not compete loosing every contest. The line was a slightly more evenly met contest, but once again it was the Cestrian forwards who put down the mark to control this game and successfully impede the Lancs set piece
The game was played in true competitive spirit, two rival camps determined to commit to this cause. Both seeking the one ultimate prize. The W.
In 80 minutes Lancs secured 3 tries against the 4 of their hosts. In a far more challenging sequence of phases the defence of both teams was tested to the full, forced errors and lapse in ‘D’ allowing the breakthroughs on both sides. With Conversions / penalties the final score not only reinforced Cestrian promotion, but now places them in the Final against Dorset to be held at Worcester RUFC Six ways (Date / details TBC)
After the game Manager Ian Stanton in his assesment of the game said “Our first objective was promotion the guys achieved that back at Lymm, so there was no pressure on them today ..job done. We knew Lancs were smarting, and we knew they would make changes, maybe not so many, but they did .. So it was interesting to see their new back line perform against us today, Our guys played some great rugby, Once again the forwards set the control, they all used a pretty lively defence when required .The team was particularly looking forward to this fixture, but .. We had to make a few adjustments, and now they have their well deserved place in the final … they have gelled and it’s great to see them keep performing at this level. I’m very proud of the lads all of whom have ‘bought in’ to this years commitment.. but I must also mention the valuable coaching skills and drills instilled by Mike and Tom that were tested today. Now the guys are just focussing on Dorset so we’re all looking forward to that ! and were back in the training Paddock next week !! ”
A number of thanks must be made, firstly to the Cheshire squad players who trained and didn’t make selection; then to the guys recovering from injury a speedy resolve is wished to them, all remain an integral part of this year’s team. Birkenhead Park RUFC for its hospitality, and all the travelling Cheshire parents / supporters who once again gave great encouragement from the touch lines!