Vale of Lune registered their first victory since January 19 on Saturday, beating Warrington 28-18.
It was certainly an occasion to savour after all the travails of the previous season and one for stand-off Callum Grieve to remember because on his debut he converted all of Vale’s four tries and was only off target once with a late penalty kick at goal.
Once again Powderhouse Lane was comfortably full as the teams ran separately through a tunnel of cherry and white clad minis, a nice touch for the visitors who opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a penalty goal from full back Darren Norman.
It did not take the Vale long to respond because they took the lead in the seventh minute with a stunningly worked try that flowed from the right hand side over to the left.
From a scrum Billy Swarbrick whizzed the ball out, fast hands were the order of the day, nobody fluffed their lines but when the ball reached Tom Crookall the winger had plenty of work to do.
He kicked up his heels to scorch through the cover defence for a quicksilver try converted by Grieve from wide out.
Following the flurry of early points the game went rather into its shell, the Vale achieved a level of dominance but were unable to breach Warrington’s defence.
Scott Manning angled a kick towards Jordan Fern but the winger saw the ball flirt away from his grasping hands. Vale enthusiastically moved the ball around without troubling the scoreboard operator as the queues at the ice cream van grew longer but by half time Vale’s lead had become wafer thin following a second penalty from Darren Norman deep in injury time.
Three minutes into the second half the Vale doubled their score.
Quick thinking from Swarbrick set the attack going, Crookall clattered through would be tacklers before deftly flicking a pass to Jack Ayrton who forced his way over for his third try in two games which was converted by Grieve.
In the 47th minute Ayrton spearheaded an attack that eventually ended with skipper Andy Powers sprinkling dummies like chocolate chips on top of an ice cream cone, his try being converted by Grieve.
Vale continued to push and probe but in the 57th minute, following the yellow card issued to Harry Fellows following his fruity response to a Warrington player, the Vale’s game started to fragment.
A prolonged period of Warrington pressure ended with winger Jack Morgan galloping over for a try converted by Norman in the 63rd minute.
For the Vale the melt down continued and in the 66th minute Warrington closed the gap to three points when their number eight charged down a kick from close range for an unconverted try.
Vale’s nerves were well and truly stretched but when Fellows returned to the fray normal service was resumed.
Scott Manning sliced deep into Warrington territory, Vale were awarded a penalty but for the only time in the game Grieve failed to find the target in the 72nd minute.
Three minutes later victory was secured courtesy of an impressive passage of controlled rugby from the forwards.
The pack mauled their way towards Warrington’s line with a measured tread, every player knew what part they had to play and at the opportune moment they casually threaded the ball into Swarbrick’s hands for the number nine to top and tail a passage of classic forward rugby for his try for the bonus point, converted by Grieve from a far from easy angle as the celebrations began.