WITH a number of their regulars injured or unavailable against promotion seeking Burnage, Vale of Lune’s prospects were far from high but, displaying remarkable resilience and character, they came back from a 29-8 deficit in the second half to come within a try of snatching a remarkable victory.
Vale shot away to the ideal start when, following a crunching charge from prop James Hesketh, Burnage were penalised and Jimmy Moore kicked the goal after a minute.
This score only served to galvanise Burnage and they immediately put the Vale under pressure.
One forward drive from a line out was repulsed but from a solid five metre scrum number eight Ollie Hewitt picked up to muscle his way over for a try converted by winger Adam Knight after eight minutes.
There was an air of belief about Burnage but they could be broken down, as Alistair Richards proved when he raced clear only to have a potential try chalked off when referee Taylor had deemed Darren Wilson’s pass forward in the 12th minute.
Burnage did recover quickly and in the 15th minute they went further ahead.
Full-back Sam Jennings accelerated downfield in a move that ended in confusion close to Vale’s line, the net result being a penalty to Burnage kicked by Knight and a yellow card for Moore.
Burnage extended their lead in the 29th minute when talismanic skipper Stuart Oldham cut a swathe crossfield, hurtled through some would-be-tacklers for a try converted by Knight from wide out.
The Vale came back into the game though with a 33rd minute try.
Fergus Owens made one of his gossamer breaks; the ball was moved wide, with Moore completing the attack by weaving his way over for an unconverted try.
The half drew to an action packed conclusion as Barker made a 60 metre run before being halted before the cavalry could arrive in force and then Moore pulled off a vital tackle on the ever-dangerous Oldham.
Within two minutes of the start of the second half the powerful Burnage pack orchestrated another try for Hewitt which went unconverted.
The expected bonus try for the visitors arrived in the 53rd minute and with it the possibility of more as the Vale appeared to be cut adrift.
Hewitt picked up at the base of a five metre scrum, the ball was moved wide, Oldham’s run breached the Vale’s defence before he released winger James Knight for a well crafted try, converted by Adam Knight.
It all looked very threatening for the Vale but in the 56th minute their revival began.
From a solid scrum a well worked move, ended with Darren Wilson shuttling over on the right for his try which Moore converted.
Alex Baines’ charge then helped to set up quick ball and from the attack that developed Burnage were penalised.
A quickly taken tap put Kingsley Barker in space, who sent a sprinting Richards on his way to a crisply taken but unconverted try in the 67th minute.
Suddenly the whole game was turned on its head and the Burnage nerves took another twanging in the 72nd minute when the Vale collected their try bonus point.
Owens set off on a 60 metre solo run, picking his way delicately around defenders and accelerating all the time for an unconverted try.
Only a try adrift the Vale had the scent of victory but Burnage held out in a dramatic finale that left players and supporters drained.
Vale of Lune: J Moore, J Hodder (O Hughes 48), K Barker, I Bird, A Richards, F Owens, D Wilson, J Hesketh (A Morrison 59), A Powers, M Hanson, D Perry (capt), B Charnley, S Wallbank, D Lin, A Garnett (A Baines 53).
Match Sponsors: Friends of the Vale.
Match Ball Sponsor: Border Asset Management.