Vale of Lune 39-10 Kirkby Lonsdale
In front of one of the largest crowds seen at The Lane in recent seasons for a league game, a new look Vale of Lune ran in six tries to collect a bonus point against local rivals Kirkby Lonsdale on the opening day of the new season.
Although there were many familiar names and faces within the Vale’s ranks including skipper Sam Wallbank, Dan Baines, Ian Bird and Jimmy Moore, who was catapulted into the squad at the last minute when Danny Lin pulled out, the name of Billy Swarbrick captured the imagination.
The young number nine was carrying on the dynasty and following in the illustrious footsteps of grandfather Fred and dad Steve who wore the first team cherry and white jersey with great pride and distinction.
The Swarbricks thus became the second of a three family generation to represent the Vale at this level, the other comprising, Ron, Andy and Jonty Higgin.
Overall, Billy came through his league baptism with credit and grew in stature the longer the game went on, but alas, like hooker Matt Gardner, who also impressed, they will shortly be flying the nest as university beckons.
It was the visitors who set the agenda early on and pushing the Vale deep into their own half.
A combination of some excellent defending allied to Kirkby being pinged by referee Riley allowed a scrambling Vale to keep their line intact.
After a severe buffeting the Vale eventually found a pathway into Kirkby territory with purposeful charge from Bird and Dan Baines in the 12th minute.
Firmly on the front foot the Vale took the lead in the 21st minute when stand off Charlie Lomas, who was tidy and compact throughout, kicked a penalty goal.
But the home side could not relax because Kirkby were stung into action they swarmed all over the Vale, and in the 28th minute a penalty from Chris Ramwell rewarded their efforts.
As the game moved into the final 10 minutes of the half the Vale produced a fluid handling move that ended with full back Tom Ball sprinting away for a try converted by Lomas.
Vale were visibly boosted by the manner of this score and in the 37th minute they added another try that free wheeled its way cross field.
Skipper Wallbank, who played with authority throughout, was on hand to slip the ball to Alex Baines who touched down in the right-hand corner for an unconverted try, but unfortunately he worryingly injured himself in the process.
Kirkby Lonsdale could feel hard done by following all their solid graft in the first half to be trailing by 12 points at the interval but they slipped further into arrears two minutes in the second half when another mercurial sequence of passes, including a gem from prop Tom Smith, climaxed with centre Adam Macluskie hurtling away, his try being converted by Lomas.
When the Vale momentarily took their foot off the accelerator they were punished by Kirkby in the 53rd minute.
The Vale were who softened up with a series of forward thrusts before Sam Chesney-Brown galloped through a huge gap for a clinical try converted by Ramwell.
It took the Vale a while to regain their balance but in the 61st minute the visitors had a kick charged down on their twenty two the ball went free with Moore being the first to react to claim his try wide out on the right and bank the bonus point.
With the clock ticking down Ben Charnley ghosted through from a line out for an unconverted try and in the 75th minute Bird powered away before unselfishly passing to Ben Dorrington who pinned back his ears to touch down between the posts, Scott Manning adding the conversion to complete the scoring.
Vale of Lune: T Ball, O Dobson, A Macluskie, B Dorrington, I Bird, C Lomas, B Swarbrick, T Smith, M Gardner, R Pillow, B Charnley, H Fellows, D Baines, A Baines, S Wallbank (capt). Replacements: P MacLaren-Dorrington, J Moore, S Manning.