Burnage 12-25 Vale of Lune
Vale of Lune produced a glorious team performance to extend their unbeaten run to five games.
The visitors were rock solid in defence on the all-weather playing surface at Varley Park on Saturday, even when Sam Wallbank was shown a yellow card with 12 minutes remaining.
In addition, the Vale squad was reduced to 17 when Brett Robinson failed to turn up forcing coach Dan Williams to juggle his resources; all the more reason to savour a deserved victory.
The current Vale performances bear little resemblance to their opening four games of the campaign where they appeared unable to lift their levels above the mediocre at best.
But the return of the skipper Dan Baines from suspension started the turn round in fortunes as several other players became available, a game plan began to evolve and the spectre of relegation began to disappear.
Burnage, relegated from National League Three North last season, were always going to provide a tough test and what developed was a highly entertaining encounter.
The hosts probed for an opening in the early stages but the Vale’s tackling and covering was equal to the task and they were quick to launch counter attacks.
In the 18th minute the Vale constructed a powerful attack involving Adam Foxcroft, Ben Dorrington, Tom Slater and Tom Crookall with Burnage conceding a penalty which Slater kicked.
Three minutes later the Vale extended their lead with the neatest of scores.
Baines was the first to react to claim a loose ball and race clear before drawing in a defender to give Billy Swarbrick the opportunity to gallop away for a try converted by Slater.
Suddenly the Vale had a tight grip on the game and they roared further ahead on the half hour with another try from Swarbrick after a good break from Dorrington.
In the 34th minute Slater added a penalty but the closing minutes of the half belonged to Burnage who were desperate to put some points on the board.
They threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Vale and found their way through in the second minute of injury time, Ralph Lawson battling his way over for a try converted by Rhys Evans.
Vale put this setback behind them and three minutes after the interval they added their third try, Dorrington again playing a pivotal role before Wallbank soared away for a try converted by Slater.
Burnage began to increase the pressure and although they made huge gains in territory the Vale refused to crack, their discipline held to keep the points-hungry hosts at arm’s length.
A breach was eventually made in the 62nd minute when winger Andy Dowdall went over in the corner for an unconverted try.
The departure of Wallbank to the naughty step appeared to inject extra resolve in the Vale side and everyone played their part in the defensive effort late on as they kept up their fine upturn in form.