Syston 14 Lymm 40
ON a sunny afternoon in Leicestershire, after torrential rain, Lymm kicked off against lowly Syston in a must-win match if they were to avoid relegation.
With the wind at their backs, and the pitch in near perfect conditions, Lymm's fleet-footed backs were to take full advantage.
Right wing David Williamson, in one of his last matches for the club at this level, chipped through and was late tackled.
The subsequent penalty and attacking line-out gave Lymm the platform but, as the rolling maul was held up, the ball was moved slickly along the backs for left wing Cormac Nolan to squeeze in at the corner.
He missed the conversion, just, but Lymm had their noses in front at 5-0 and never looked back.
From another attacking line-out the ball was knocked on but Lymm won the ball back against the head in the scrum and number eight Ollie Higginson drove powerfully forward and fly half Joe Knowles, playing with his tail up, crossed the line for his first try, duly converted by Nolan making it 12-0 after 15 minutes.
Lymm kicked well with the wind and kept Syston pinned in their own 22.
A terrific break from scrum half Tom Baker then led to Knowles going over for his brace, duly converted, giving Lymm a 19-0 lead after 24 minutes.
Syston, then showing considerable spirit, pounded the Lymm line.
At this point back row Tim Oakes was prominent as he put in tackle after tackle and was clearly relishing the physical challenge.
Higginson then won the 'tackle of the match' competition under his own sticks, which dislodged the ball and allowed Lymm to clear their lines.
Derbyshire came on for Yates as part of the rotational policy after 33 minutes.
Tom Bray in the centre was then involved twice as Lymm looked to extend their lead.
His powerful breaks led to Dave Williamson creating havoc with a clever chip.
The ball, after a misfield from the Syston full back, then found its way back into the winger’s arms, only for him to be held up over the line.
Despite concerted pressure Lymm could not score the all-important bonus fourth try and the half ended with no additions to the scoreline.
Williamson was heard to complain of stiffness in his legs due to over-training.
This would account for the otherwise reputed speedy winger not quite breaking free from his tacklers minutes before.
Lymm started the second half as they ended the first, full of confidence and running – a foretaste of things to come.
The Syston backs, in comparison, looked pedestrian, and had offered no real threat up to this point.
Good hands by the Lymm backs released full back Rowley, giving him inches to work with down the right wing.
It was all he needed as he outpaced the cover, almost, but threw a forward pass inside, 5m out, for what surely would have been the try of the match.
Syston then got on the scoresheet as Lymm seemed to momentarily lose concentration defensively.
The Syston open side, who had had been forceful all afternoon got his reward and touched down under the posts, down making it 19-7.
Lymm continued to butcher a number of opportunities in their quest for the fourth try but it duly came as Tom Bray cleverly jinked through the defence, feeding replacement right wing Richard McEvoy who took a clever line to score from 10m out.
Rowley converted taking the score to 26-7.
By now, the wind had dropped and Syston were beginning to look out-muscled by the more mature visitors.
Knowles intercepted a pass in the middle of the field, fed centre Giles Dugdale who, in giving the try scoring pass, popped what looked like a season-ending hamstring.
McEvoy finished the move by confidently scoring his brace, converted by Rowley, 33-7.
Adam Bray then finished off a great break by Yates up the left hand side taking the score to 40-7 following the conversion.
But Syston refused to buckle completely and scored a converted consolation try at the end, 40-14.
This win moved Lymm above third from bottom Newport who they now face on Saturday, in another must-win game.
The bottom three get relegated so destiny remains in the Cheshire sides' own hands.
If they keep winning they stay up, and if they lose any of the remaining three fixtures they may be relegated.
If this performance is anything to go by they have a great chance of playing at this level next season and, on balance, probably deserve to.
Team: Nick Ashton, Adam Bray, Jordan Widdrington, Sion Williams, James Yates, Tim Oakes, Sam Mullarkey, Ollie Higginson (c), Tom Baker, Joe Knowles, Cormac Nolan, Tom Bray, Giles Dugdale, Dave Williamson, Andy Rowley.
Res: John Millington, Tom Darbyshire, Steve McEvoy.