Liverpool St Helens 20-35 Vale of Lune

Vale of Lune battle for the ball against Liverpool St Helens.
Vale of Lune battle for the ball against Liverpool St Helens.
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Vale of Lune ended any relegation worries with a bonus-point victory at Liverpool St Helens on Saturday with the Merseyside outfit now facing a battle to preserve their own North One West status.

To say that the Vale made hard work of their victory would be an understatement, this was due in part to the performance of the hosts in the first hour and the rather laboured approach from the visitors who struggled to discover any real fluidity and momentum in a contest that could hardly be called a classic.

Jack Turton on the charge against Liverpool St Helens.

Jack Turton on the charge against Liverpool St Helens.

By their own high standards LSH have had a torrid season and since the turn of the year they have bobbed uncomfortably around the trapdoor and with three games remaining they needed to nail a victory sooner rather than later.

And the home side started well going in front in the fourth minute, winger Matt Cunliffe hurtling through a huge gap for a try which he converted.

It dawned on the Vale this was going to be no stroll in the park and with scrum half Darren Wilson barking out the orders the Vale regained a modicum of control.

A passage of concerted pressure ended with Gareth Tudor breaking away for a try against his former club which Jack Turton converted in the ninth minute.

This score only appeared to fire up Liverpool with stand off Neil Hull, who made 17 appearances for the Vale in the 2008/09 season, looping around for a try converted by Cunliffe.

Again the Vale responded to another wake up call, they trapped Liverpool in their own twenty two, the forwards shunted their opposite numbers around but the home side hung grimly on until the 31st minute when the Vale crafted a quality try.

Turton made an incisive break and then delivered the perfect pass to James Curran who was travelling flat out with his try converted by Turton.

But a half that belonged rightly to the home side ended with Cunliffe kicking two penalty goals.

Playing down the slope the Vale camped themselves in LSH’s half after the interval but Liverpool were not going to go down without a fight - Cunliffe missing with a penalty attempt in the 50th minute.

A bustling run from Adam Macluskie sparked one of Vale’s most enterprising attacks of the half and shortly after Ben Charnley picked up at the base of a solid scrum to cut back inside for a try converted by Turton in the 56th minute.

Suddenly the tide began to flow in the Vale’s favour and in the 65th minute Nick Royle crossed for his 39th try of the season, and the bonus point, after the slickest of passes from Olly Carter. Turton’s wobbly conversion just about clawed its way over the bar.

As the game moved into the final 10 minutes Liverpool upped the tempo forcing the Vale on the defensive. Rob Ward pulled off a try saving tackle, the Vale lost possession at a five metre line out and were forced to scramble to hold up Liverpool, but from the resultant scrum the Vale drove Liverpool back 10 metres and the danger was cleared.

This proved to be the last hurrah from the home side because in the closing minute Wilson seized a loose ball to scuttle 50 metres for a try converted by Turton.

Vale of Lune: N Royle, R Ward, O Carter, A Macluskie, J Curran, J Turton, D Wilson (capt), J Hesketh, P Berry, R Pillow, A Foxcroft, P McLaren-Dorrington, G Tudor, A Garnett (S Quick 47), B Charnley.