Wilmslow 39-31 Vale of Lune

Vale of Lune captain Sam Wallbank charges forward against Wilmslow. Picture: Andrew Perry
Vale of Lune captain Sam Wallbank charges forward against Wilmslow. Picture: Andrew Perry

Vale of Lune’s new era continued to show plenty of promise in defeat at Wilmslow on Saturday.

Fergus Owen’s charges have now played four games, winning two and losing two, but they have claimed a try bonus point in every contest, a statistic that does indicate an appetite to move the ball around.

This bold approach does come with a health warning meaning the rough has to be taken with the smooth as the shake down and sea trials continue.

At the Memorial Ground two similarly matched sides produced an 11-try jamboree, five to the Vale and six from the hosts.

The visitors made a sluggish start however and fell behind in the second minute when winger Lawrence James slipped through for a neatly taken unconverted try.

Wilmslow made all the early running as the Vale struggled to wrest the initiative, but their defence was solid and secure.

In the 26th minute Owens’ side took the lead with a well-worked try when from a scum the ball was transferred along the back line at speed.

Tom Ball took advantage of the overlap that was created, Wilmslow at this stage had a player in the sin-bin, to score, with his try converted by Charlie Lomas.

From this point the game took off. Three minutes after their score the Vale overthrew the ball at a line out just on their twenty two. While the cherry and whites tried to salvage the situation hooker Max Harvey ghosted away for an unconverted try.

Vale’s concentration levels appeared to drop and they were put to the sword again in the 33rd minute when winger Ian Culligan embarked on a crossfield solo run for a consummate try converted by Bob MacCallum.

The half ended with two more tries, one from each side.

When the Vale hit all the right buttons they can produce some thrilling cameos and for their second try everything clicked into place, a rat a tat passing move that ended with full back Chris Weeks touching down for an unconverted try in the 37th minute.

Playing expansive rugby has its dangers though and after a sloppy pass fell short Wilmslow were off and running, their bonus point try being posted by Culligan with a minute remaining of the opening 40.

Both sides continued in the same vein in the second half, MacCallum missing a 48th-minute penalty before the Vale reduced the Cheshire side’s lead to three points seven minutes later.

Wing forward Sam Ackers was on Ball’s shoulder after a surging run from the winger to take his pass for a try converted by Lomas.

On the hour Wilmslow scored a splendid try from deep, quickly pouncing on another Vale mistake, with Harvey being on hand to complete the move, MacCallum adding the two points.

Vale’s resilience knows no bounds though, a switch to a tight formation allowing Adam Foxcroft to force his way over from a close range trundle for the bonus point try in the 56th minute.

Not for the first time the Vale contributed to their own downfall when a kick out of defence plopped into no man’s land, James swept up the gift of a loose ball to trot away untroubled for his try which was converted by MacCallum with nine minutes left.

A penalty from MacCallum provided extra insurance, a wise investment because the Vale staged a late rally.

Ben Dorrington, Scott Manning, Ollie Dobson all posed threats but in the final move of the game Sam Wallbank went over from a quickly taken tap penalty, his try being converted by Lomas.

Vale of Lune: C Weeks; T Ball, S Manning, B Dorrington, A Macluskie; C Lomas, B Swarbrick; J Hesketh, P Berry, R Pillow; P MacLaren-Dorrington, A Foxcroft; B Charnley, S Ackers, S Wallbank (capt). Replacements used: J Curran, O Dobson, M Barker.