Vale of Lune 44-24 Liverpool St Helens

A smiling Nick Royle scores for the Vale of Lune against  Liverpool St Helens, his fourth hat-trick in four games. Picture: Tony North
A smiling Nick Royle scores for the Vale of Lune against Liverpool St Helens, his fourth hat-trick in four games. Picture: Tony North

Nick Royle’s fourth hat-trick of the season helped the Vale of Lune prevail in a thrilling contest with Liverpool St Helens.

Once the visitors had put behind them a rather torrid opening 30 minutes in which they had conceded 27 points without replying, they made life uncomfortable for the Vale.

And as the game edged into the closing quarter the Vale held a precarious 27-24 lead after scrum half Rob Dyer had scored from a tap penalty which Greg Smith converted to bring Liverpool to within three points.

Things might have become even more disastrous for the Vale when three minutes later Smith broke down the left flank and with only replacement prop Paul McLaren-Dorrington to beat his foot brushed the touchline.

Straight from this huge let off the Vale launched an attack. Ben Charnley whirled his way over half way, Adam Macluskie’s powerful run took him deep into Liverpool territory before Royle crossed for his hat-trick.

Five minutes later another surge of in-built energy from Macluskie resulted in the Vale being awarded a penalty which Oli Carter impeccably converted.

A gallant Liverpool side succumbed to a James Curran try after he had caught an exquisite floated kick from Jack Turton to touch down behind the posts – Carter again converted to end the scoring.

There was nothing baffling about the start the Vale made. After six minutes Carter hammered over a long-range penalty and three minutes later Royle crossed for his first following a neat exchange between Rob Ward and Curran, Carter again obliged as the Vale’s points total matched the time that elapsed.

Then on the 20-minute mark Royle was unceremoniously taken out when he chased his kick ahead. Referee Plummer awarded a penalty where the ball had landed, the ball was despatched into touch and from the line out Fraser Spavin touched down for an unconverted try.

The Vale extended their lead three minutes later when an attack was launched from their own half that ended with Royle scoring an unconverted try.

Vale’s front row went through a make over and they were able to unleash their power in the 31st minute when they drove the visitors’ eight over their own line for the patient Alex Baines to touch down at the base, Carter converted to leave the Vale in a commanding position having secured the try bonus point.

Liverpool stated to chip away at their resolve with a try in the 33rd minute. Winger Anthony Hughes went over in the left hand corner for an unconverted try after the home side had been slow to react after the ball had gone loose on the opposite side of the field.

In the first minute of added time the Vale were undone at a line and when the ball was moved wide they were unable to prevent centre Dan Filson from scoring an unconverted try.

Matters did not improve at the start of the second half and when full back Ian Stanley made a lone break, the seas parted in front of him prior to centre Adam Glover racing between the posts for his try converted by Smith.

Dyer’s try earned LSH a bonus point before Vale recalibrated their sights to lay down a barrage that eventually resulted in a victory that was at one stage in serious danger.