Garstang RUFC take home the title
Garstang are celebrating after claiming the Lancashire/Cheshire Three title last weekend.
They travelled to Isle of Man-based Ramsey, knowing that two points would be enough to secure top spot.
That proved the eventual outcome as Garstang’s hopes of ending the season unbeaten were ended with a 34-27 defeat.
Confidence was high that the job would be done as Garstang had travelled with a better squad than was the case for more local away games.
However, that confidence soon took a knock as Garstang conceded probably one of their quickest tries of all time.
A beautifully weighted kick-off was regathered by Ramsey before the ball was quickly recycled and a kick into the corner gathered for a try with only 20 seconds gone.
Despite trailing, there was no need for Garstang to panic given they have had to recover deficits in big games during recent weeks.
Within two minutes, they had a penalty which they nudged into the corner, and from the subsequent lineout, Max Everest rumbled over to level the score at 5-5.
Although Garstang were having some joy with their runners among the pack, their defensive backline always looked under stress as Ramsey’s quick backs extended them on several occasions.
The next score came from a Garstang error as a loose pass was intercepted and Ramsey went over under the posts for a converted try, which was quickly followed by another.
Trailing 19-5, things suddenly looked daunting for Garstang but they knuckled down and got their reward as Everest again forced his way over from closerange with the conversion making it 19-12.
With this score, Garstang felt like they were in the game but, yet again, they let Ramsey off the hook.
They made a clean break to within 20 metres but, inexplicably, Ramsey were able to strip the ball in contact and work it out wide for their winger to capitalise on some leaden defence and score a converted try.
Garstang had played with very little structure with several of their key players unable to play their normal games but, as the match progressed, they were able to manage a little control.
With 10 minutes to go until half-time a period of possession was finished off with a hat-trick try for Everest to leave Garstang 26-17 adrift.
Then, on the stroke of half-time, Everest went over again for his fourth try, securing the tryscoring bonus point single-handedly as Garstang trailed 26-22.
A minute into the second half and they took the lead as Everest again made a dart for the line from close range.
On this occasion he was stopped but Charlie Clark made a secondary snipe and touched down to build a 27-26 lead.
It seemed that the momentum was all with Garstang but they continued to make errors which led to Ramsey kicking a penalty and then scoring a converted try for a seven-point lead at 34-27.
Garstang thought that they had scored the try which would settle their nerves when Edgar Nicholls went over, only for the referee to decide he had been held up.
That was to be the last real opportunity and, when Garstang got a penalty in their half on the last play, they decided to tap and kick it off the park to end the game.
Having already gained the tryscoring bonus point, another point for being within seven points at full-time was enough for Garstang to clinch the title irrespective of any results elsewhere.
It was a nervous afternoon and a disappointing defeat but the team were delighted to have got the job done and won the title.