Vale of Lune 12-41 Firwood Waterloo
Firwood Waterloo rolled up to Powderhouse Lane on Saturday in a confident mood having won their last four games in succession and handily placed in the promotion stakes in third place in North One West.
Their bonus-try victory against Vale of Lune ensured they remained as contenders for the prize in a tightly packed field.
However, currently all bets are off in the race for promotion and it could well be into spring before a clear cut favourite emerges.
All the conversations about promotion as far as the Vale is concerned is relatively academic because they need to keep a weather eye open on their situation which appears secure but a run of defeats, plus a surge from those below them could well have the sirens wailing.
Vale made a promising opening but were unable plot their way through to the whitewash and fell behind in the seventh minute.
Flanker Chris Cunningham sliced through the heart of Vale’s defence to set up a try for scrum half Luke Clifford, who daintily kicked up his heels for a try converted winger Darragh O’Brien.
Jordan Fern, not for the first time in the contest, pulled off a try saving tackle as Firwood Waterloo began to carve out openings and in the 18th minute they extended their lead.
A powerful set scrum provided the perfect platform for centre Gab Davies to sprint easily over for a try converted by O’Brien.
There was no respite for the Vale, they were forced to scramble in defence and they searched in vain to string together any meaningful attacks, on the other hand Firwood Waterloo called the shots and added to their lead with an O’Brien penalty goal in the 25th minute to complete the first half scoring.
Matters did not improve for the Vale at the start of the second half as they struggled to map their way out of their own half, while Firwood Waterloo’s territory quickly became the domain of a flock of seagulls who strutted imperiously in the wide open spaces, even at one stage marching in perfect formation up to the half way line.
But Firwood Waterloo did not need any extra reinforcements because they sent the feathers and fur flying when from a scrum, winger Luke Ferrier looped round for the neatest of tries that was punishingly efficient in its execution, again O’Brien obliged to add the conversion.
Vale were now facing down not one, but two barrels, but straight from the kick off they scattered the gulls. Callum Kyle collected a kick from scrum half Andy Powers only to be held up short, suddenly a fuse was lit followed by some argy-bargy which when the dust finally settled referee Robert Sheard dished out two yellow cards in the direction of a pair of Firwood Waterloo players.
Five minutes later the Vale pack hustled their opposite numbers over their line to set up a try for hooker Harm Dokter which centre Alex Briggs converted in the 59th minute.
The visitors might have been down to 13 but it proved unlucky for the Vale because in the 64th minute Firwood Waterloo hauled in the try bonus point when full back, Dom Coe, rocketed through the middle for a comfortable try converted by O’Brien from in front.
A rare Vale attack was cursed by a dropped pass and while the Firwood Waterloo pack were urged to clean their studs by their supporters on the East Terrace O’Brien kicked a penalty goal in the 75th minute.
At the end of proper time desperate defending from the Vale failed to resist Firwood Waterloo’s advances, prop Liam Launders collected a popular try which of course was converted by O’Brien.
A patched up Vale side produced a late rally which did take some of spotlight away from Firwood Waterloo and as the sun was setting Fern locked onto a cross kick from Briggs for an unconverted try deep into added time.