Northwich 5-12 Vale of Lune

Fergus Owens scored against Northwich. Picture: Tony North
Fergus Owens scored against Northwich. Picture: Tony North

History was made at Moss Lane for North One West leaders, Vale of Lune, as they recorded their first ever win on Northwich’s own patch to end a barren run of five defeats.

It was not, as the score line reflects, an all singing all dancing try fest played in cold sunny conditions on a surface that had plenty of give in it, but it had plenty to excite and enthuse about.

For Vale Evan Stewart returned after serving his suspension to play at number eight with skipper Sam Wallbank moving into the second row.

Ben Dorrington donned the number 15 jersey after missing the last two games in a squad that knew it would be no stroll in the park.

However, Vale’s up tempo start suggested they would be carrying on where they left off the previous week against St Benedicts with a try within the first two minutes.

Playing with the wind at their backs, Vale launched an attack.

Stand-off Jack Turton made a clean break, Stewart went barrelling to the line as Northwich frantically tried to shore up the barricades but in doing so they incurred the displeasure of referee Robert Sheard who went beetling off between the posts to award a penalty try.

At this stage Vale were making all the running but there were signs that Northwich, who were playing on their main pitch for only the fourth time this season, posed a threat.

The home side weathered Vale’s early adventures and by the mid way point of the half they began to probe Vale’s defensive network as the pattern of the game began to tilt in their favour.

In the 27th minute Vale’s pocket was picked when following a period of sustained pressure full back Joel Barber went flying over wide on the right for an unconverted try.

Jack Sadler, Tom Cvijanovic, Jack Ayrton and Ross Pillow were in the thick of action in some tasty close quarter exchanges but following Northwich’s score Vale were forced to deal with a series of power plays from the hosts, but they remained calm and cleared their lines with an air of authority.

As the game moved into stoppage time,Vale 
collected an all important, and as it turned out, a match winning score.

Sam Wallbank claimed the ball at a 15 metre line out, centre Jonty Higgin, who is in a rich vein of form at the moment, powerfully surged through the middle to deliver the perfect pass to his fellow centre, Fergus Owens, who cruised over for an unconverted try.

The second half followed the pattern of the first half early on, with both sides counter attacking but gradually Vale found themselves compressed in their own half for long periods.

It was not necessarily pretty to watch.

Northwich produced a number of variations on a theme but whatever page they turned the Vale were a few lines ahead and alert to any changes of direction and rhythm.

It was all very frustrating for the home supporters who witnessed their side going through their full repertoire with little success.

There were no cracks in Vale’s defence but the league’s leading points scorers were given few opportunities to showcase their skills against an equally vigilant Northwich.