Vale of Lune hosted Firwood Waterloo on Saturday in a game that had its moments of high drama and was bristling with simmering tension that occasionally erupted with some undignified outbursts that pushed referee Sheard’s patience to the limits.
There was no quarter asked from either side in a game that tested the Vale’s ability to cope with adversity because at one stage in the first half they only had 13 players on the field following a yellow shown to Fergus Owens in the 20th minute and red card for Evan Stewart two minutes later.
An injury sustained by full back Jordan Dorrington in the second half was caused by a vigorous tackle on the number 15 and it provoked a touchline free for all as blows were exchanged.
Almost before the curtain had finished rising hooker Andy Powers was on his way to warm the naughty chair after receiving a first minute yellow.
Firwood Waterloo piled on the pressure but the Vale remained firm and resolute and gradually eased their way out of the danger zone.
In the ninth minute, Olly Jacques made a powerful run up to the visitors’ twenty two as the Vale wound the clock down ahead of Power’s return.
A scorching run from Firewood’s left winger in the 19th minute, Jacob Allen, had the Vale retreating and in disarray.
Owens was yellow carded, Firwood Waterloo surged towards Vale’s line and in the uproar that followed Stewart was sent packing.
With the gift horse’s mouth gaping Firwood Waterloo lost no time in taking full advantage of the situation.
The ball was kicked into touch, the pack exploded into life to drive the Vale back, with hooker Scott Robson forcing the ball down; Tom Booth added the conversion.
As a stop start half drew to a close Vale put points on the board – following a strong Vale scrummage Firwood Waterloo were penalised and up stepped Jacques to thump over a 30 metre penalty.
The Vale opened the second half with a spring in their step. Billy Swarbrick, as tidy as ever at scrum half, chipped into the corner forcing a drop out.
The Vale swept back immediately to catch Firwood Waterloo off guard, they conceded a penalty which Jacques kicked in the 44th minute.
A superb, quick attack then opened up space on the right where winger Chris Ramwell side stepped his way out of tackles before swallow diving over for a well constructed try which Jacques nonchantly converted in the 51st minute.
In the 61st minute the Vale went further ahead. Once again they used the ball effectively in the build up to Jacques’s try.
The winger’s sheer strength allowed him to brush aside tacklers on his way to the whitewash, his conversion eventually it side slipped over.
In the third minute of injury time Firwood Waterloo secured their losing bonus point when they subjected the Vale to a series on energy sapping scrums on their five metre line which eventually yielded a penalty try.
Two minutes later Firwood Waterloo came within a whisker of leaving The Lane empty handed but Jacques’s penalty drifted off target.