Unlike the first meeting of the season Kirkby Lonsdale were not overwhelmed and on their own patch they thoroughly deserved their victory against a strangely lethargic and uninspiring Vale of Lune side.
Kirkby’s win was another important step in retaining their North One West status– a fact that was much appreciated by the Underley Park faithful who roared their approval amidst scenes of jubilation at referee Lyhtgoe’s final whistle.
On the other side of the coin, Vale’s defeat signalled the end to their slim hopes of making the play-off spot as they found themselves out manoeuvred in all departments and even though the scoreline was always within reach they were unable to stoke up the collective fires to bridge the gap even after coach Woodward had delivered a half-time roasting of epic proportions.
Kirkby Lonsdale did not need any on the field haranguing, their heavy defeat at the Vale at the beginning of October was motivation enough but as always in a contest between local rivals, bragging rights were at stake. Certainly Kirkby could walk tall along Main Street after such a performance with heads held high.
Half backs Ben Walker and Dave Barton were hugely influential, intelligently controlling and managing play.Wingers Josh Maddock and Josh Pewsey were dangerous with ball in hand and in the forwards Simon Dowker was in the thick of the action. His fellow lock Matt Hughes and number eight Craig Galbraith had the measure of their opponents; but overall it was a 100 percent team effort that laid the foundations for a famous victory.
With patches of snow on the nearby fells and the sun starting to burn through, Underley Park looked a picture with all the early brush strokes coming from the home side as Dowker stole the Vale’s ball at a line out.
It was pretty even Steven in the opening few minutes. Nick Royle made a promising run from full-back before Kirkby went ahead.
Crisp handling forced the Vale to retreat in the build-up to Walker’s crisp try, the number nine going over in the right hand corner for an unconverted try after 11 minutes.
Vale responded immediately sweeping down the slope to force Kirkby to concede a penalty which James Hodder kicked.
The two sides tended to cancel each other out.m Few gaps appeared although it was apparent that Kirkby were not going to be on the receiving end of another hammering by the Vale as they expertly stifled all the Vale’s attempts to open up play.
Hodder kicked a penalty in the 28th minute to nudge the Vale into a far from convincing lead that was surrendered in the 32nd minute.
Lock Harry Fellows was sent to the sin bin after a ragged looking Vale had tried to halt a Kirkby forward surge.
Although Kirkby were awarded a couple of kickable penalties they opted to scrummage a depleted Vale pack.
With the Vale tied down Walker spotted a huge gap between half backs Darren Wilson and Hodder and nipped through for the neatest of tries with eight minutes remaining.
Woodward’s half-time tirade did seem briefly to have worked when Hodder escaped, only to be hauled down by a tackle from Maddock, but after this flicker of defiance the Vale were soon rolled back into their own half to find themselves at the mercy of a team who were hungry for the ball.
Vale’s task was made more difficult when Wilson was yellow carded as what little bit of coherence there had been in Vale’s game disappeared.
They did rouse themselves as the game edged into the closing quarter with periods of pressure in Kirkby’s 22 but despite a battering the home side showed no sign of cracking.
In the 71st minute Hodder kicked a penalty but the Vale were unable to lift their game sufficiently to cause the alarm bells to ring in Kirkby’s ranks.
The Cumbrians refused to panic, Barton tidied up efficiently against a by now desperate looking and disorganised Vale side and at no stage in the closing minutes did Kirkby’s one point lead look in jeopardy.
Kirkby Lonsdale: C Ramwell; J Maddock, T Pickthall, J Akrigg, J Pewsey; D Barton, B Walker; C Hewitt, D Armitstead, T Groves; S Dowker, M Hughes; R Sayer, J Benson, C Galbraith. Replacements: J Law, T Shepherd.
Vale of Lune: N Royle; J Curran, S Moorby, A Powers, A Macluskie; J Hodder, D Wilson (Capt); A Cowey, P Berry, O Cowey; H Fellows, G Tudor; R Randall, D Lin, B Charnley. Replacements; I Turton, A Garnett, R Ward
Match Sponsor: Barry Robinson.
Match Ball Sponsor: Harry Hogarth