There was something for the Vale of Lune to celebrate at Houghend Crescent when for the first time since the 1999/2000 season they completed a league double over their long standing rivals, Broughton Park to move up to fifth in the table.
This was no classic as both sides became embroiled in a game that suited the hosts, numerous stoppages to break up the rhythm, and for long periods the Vale found it difficult to play on the front foot.
An early try from stand off Jack Turton suggested the Vale were still in ‘Warrington Mode’ as the ball was crisply transferred. Centre Jonty Higgin made a powerful break and in a twinkling Turton went over in the right hand corner.
Ben Dorrington’s conversion ricocheted off an upright on its way over.
A penalty at a scrum resulted in Ben Dorrington kicking a penalty in the 13th minute but gradually the Vale’s game dried up, their impetus was halted, the tap of creativity was rudely turned off.
Cracks started to appear in Vale’s defence and in the 34th minute they were undone.
A chip over Vale’s flat threequarter line was punished when winger, Warren Duffy, chased after the ball for an unconverted try.
This acted as a wake up call for the Vale who threw off their lethargy with a flurry of activity as the half drew to a close which ended with Ben Dorrington hammering over a 40 metre penalty goal in the 37th minute. Three minutes into the second half the Vale scored a scintillating try that owed much to the audacity and skill of scrum half Charlie Lomas, who was playing his first game since the end of January.
The number nine went skipping and side stepping through tackles into Park’s 22. His perfectly time pass sent Wayne Blyth racing into the dead ball area; Ben Dorrington converted from in front.
Dan Baines and Sam Wallbank then produced a piece of magic at the front of a line out and a 20 metre forward drive pushed Park into their 22 and by the hour mark, although a this stage the time on the electronic scoreboard had given up, the Vale appeared to be heading for a comfortable victory.
Park gave their supporters something to cheer about when in the 77th minute left winger Will Smail coasted over following a misdirected Vale drop out.
Full back Ronan O’Brien added the conversion but, despite a lengthy period of stoppage time, the home side could not secure any bonus points.
Sixteen years is a long time to wait for the Vale double, the likes of Jack Ayrton and Aiden Yates were barley out of their romper suits, but it is an achievement to toast because in the past an away fixture at Broughton Park, whether at Houghend Crescent or at Chelsfield Grove, has nearly always ended in tears, despair and bruised egos.
*After leading 17-0 at half time at Firwood Waterloo and stretching their lead to 22-7 early in the third quarter Vale 2 struggled as the home side upped the pace of the game to run out eventual winners, 38-22 in a Conference B fixture.
Vale’s third team ran riot at home against Ormskirk 2 to record their highest points victory of the season, 86-0; last season they defeated Rossendale 3, also at home, 83-3.
The fourth team lost over at Bury, 41-24, the two clubs are due to face each other at The Lane on April 2.