Vale of Lune 23-20 Altrincham Kersal

Tom Slater.
Tom Slater.

Vale of Lune registered their first victory of the North One West season with a narrow 23-20 win over Altrincham Kersal.

In their change strip the Vale opened the scoring in the third minute when Tom Slater thumped over a penalty goal but there were already signs that despite the relative lowly position of both clubs points wise, the game was to be played on the front foot when the opportunities presented themselves.

Altrincham drew level in the 12th minute with a penalty from centre Jack Emmerson but the Vale were quick to counter.

A powerful scrum heaved Altrincham off the ball, bodies popped up in all directions and from the resultant disarray, Slater kicked a penalty in the 16th minute.

Ten minutes later Slater kicked his third penalty after the forwards had successfully marched their opposite numbers backwards at a set scrum.

In the build up, stand off Jack Turton had picked up a pass at ground level and winger Jordan Fern was bundled into touch just as he was pressing the accelerator.

However, the Vale’s lead disappeared in the 28th minute when their defensive wall was easily breached.

Stand off Ross Keatch spotted a gap, he neatly sidestepped to wrong foot the defenders to then shoot through a huge hole to touch down between the posts for a smartly taken try which he converted.

Following the score the Vale were forced to regroup and refocus but unlike in some of their earlier fixtures, they quickly regained their unity and carried the game to Altrincham and in the 34th minute they were back in front.

Following a period of intense pressure the ball was switched to the left, debutant Brett Robinson, the former rugby league centre, jinked back inside to sprint over for a try at the conclusion of a passage of quality rugby played at pace; Slater added the conversion.

During a long period of added time Vale were subjected to wave after wave of Altrincham attacks, they defended grimly but despite having Joe Wallbank sin binned they plugged the holes successfully in the barricades.

All the efforts at the end of the half proved beneficial because in te 51st minute the Vale extended their lead.

From a well planned line-out Sam Wallbank scooted away unopposed for a twinkling try converted by Slater.

But this was a game that had many twists and turns waiting in the shadows and in the 56th minute Emmerson clipped over a penalty from in front to give his side an extra shot of adrenalin.

Billy Swarbrick halted a threatening attack with a brave tackle but as the game moved into its closing stages Altrincham threw everything at the Vale bar the proverbial kitchen sink.

Of course the Vale could not hold out indefinitely and when Ben Dorrington was sin binned in the 76th minute Altrincham sensed that a life line had been thrown in their direction.

Vale started to concede penalties, Altrincham went for the jugular and in the 78th minute number eight Jon Bishop loped over for a try converted by Emmerson.

As the clocked ticked down to 80 minutes referee Sheard announced at least four minutes were still remaining.

In a tension filled atmosphere strong nerves prevailed. Altrincham sensed the Vale were wavering, the Vale were forced to dig deep to avoid yet another defeat as they negotiated a tricky rock face where one mistake could end in disaster.

Eventually, man of the match, Andy Powers, lashed the ball into touch to end what had been a thoroughouly competitive, balanced, breathless encounter between two sides who adopted a positive approach throughout.