For their second pre-season fixture Vale of Lune hosted Stoke on Trent who finished in fourth place in Midlands One West last season, and once again all eyes were on the composition of a new look Vale side which contained a blend of youth and experience.
Conditions were perfect at Powder house Lane and both sides were able to find a raft of positives from a contest that developed into a highly enterprising and meaningful work out.
In contrast to the fixture at Whitehaven, which was very much a discreet testing of the waters, the encounter against Stoke was a case of in at the deep end from the first blast of referee Matthew Riley’s whistle.
Almost before a large crowd had picked their spot in the sunshine the Vale had posted a score, Scott Manning’s try being converted by Chris Lomas.
A scampering Ollie Dobson added a second before the visitors replied with a well conceived try following an accurate cross kick.
The Vale’s tempo was maintained and a flowing attack created an overlap for Sam Wallbank to score wide out on the left.
The first quarter ended with the Vale adding impressively to their total with tries from Danny Lin, converted by Lomas, and Adam Foxcroft.
The scoring, in a half full of endeavourer and enterprise, was completed with a converted Stoke try.
At the interval the Vale disappeared into the bowls of the changing rooms, no doubt to discuss tactics, but whatever was planned was given short shrift by Stoke because they completely dominated the early exchanges.
Vale conceded territory, they fell off tackles and were punished when Stoke swept over for two converted tries to cut the home side’s lead to three points.
Suddenly it was game on, the Vale had to dig deep, it now became a test of their character as well as fitness.
To their credit the Vale regrouped and a try from James Hodder was converted superbly by Lomas from a difficult angle in the 60th minute helped to steady the ship.
Stoke’s sting had been effectively drawn and as the game moved into the final 10 minutes the Vale widened the gap with tries from Lomas and Wallbank, which Lomas converted.