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Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC finishing strong

Dave Barton on the charge (photo Mike Martindale)
Dave Barton on the charge (photo Mike Martindale)

[A]ny hopes third placed Wilmslow might have had of league success had gone prior to this fixture but they would have wanted to go out with a bang and a victory in front of their home crowd in this their last home game of the season and that looked like it might be on the cards in the first twenty minutes.

Kirkby centre Jack Akrigg had not recovered from the previous weeks injury, the unfortunate David Cooper-Dunne was still seeing red and the reshuffle saw Ryan Terry move up into the twelve shirt with Martyn Knapton at full back and David Bird on the left wing as Kirkby kicked off playing right to left in front of the clubhouse and into a strong breeze.

It wasn’t just the breeze Kirkby had to contend with, they were getting a considerable blast from the referee’s whistle as well and a sequence of penalties in the home sides favour meant Kirkby had plenty of defending to do. Full back Martyn Knapton and wing David Bird combining particularly well on one occasion to clear danger but the pressure finally told from yet another penalty which the home number nine Ollie Wilkinson kicked to put Wilmslow ahead 3 – 0 with fifteen minutes played.

Kirkby were settling though with stand off Dave Barton increasingly influential, a break by him took him through the Wilmslow line and he fed centre Terry who in turn passed to scrum half and skipper Ben Walker who went over for the first try, unconverted but Kirkby were ahead 3 – 5 in the second quarter. Play swung back and forth for a while with neither side able to take a grip on the game until a strong run by Kirkby back row Lwazi Ngcumgama took play well into the home half, the backs got involved with centre Tom Pickthall eventually forcing his way over wide out for the second try, no conversion again and the score was 3 – 10 when the half time whistle went.

Kirkby started the second half with intent and with Barton again calling the tune, a run from him taking play deep into the Wilmslow half before he was tackled into touch. Wilmslow won their lineout but the pressure was on and as Kirkby harried them they were forced to touch down in goal, the five metre scrum was a good attacking opportunity but here came that whistle again and a penalty gave the home side a chance to clear. Ten or so minutes then played out with both sides having a share of possession but neither looking like scoring until the next significant event occurred and this came from Ngcumgama. Kirkby were attacking on the home twenty two when the ball came into his possession and that’s where it stayed as he broke unstoppably through three tackles at pace to score try number three, Terry converting to give Kirkby a significant lead mid way through the half at 3 – 17.

Scotty Boyd came off Kirkby’s bench to replace Leandro Kwiczor in the second row, then prop Ryan Holmes was yellow carded and this reorganisation brought Brodie Rowse off the bench into the front row. The man advantage spurred Wilmslow and they had a good spell of play with their eager backs enjoying the bit of space and taking play to around ten metres from the Kirkby line, their forwards then got a drive going which, according to the ref, was illegally stopped and he awarded Wilmslow a penalty try which they converted to make it 10 – 17.

The home side now had their tails up and only valiant defending kept them out but with Kirkby restored to fifteen the balance began to swing back in their favour. The Kirkby backs broke out in a sweeping move which culminated in Terry hanging on to a pass wide out to score the crucial bonus point fourth try in the corner, unconverted to make it 10 – 22. Back came Wilmslow when their forwards got another surge going at the Kirkby line and this brought their second try with number eight Alex Taylor touching down, no conversion but the score had closed to 15 – 22 as the game edged towards the final whistle.

But the last say went to Kirkby and to Terry again as he calmly slotted a penalty from just over thirty metres to make the final score 15 – 25. Job done with the bonus point and Kirkby march on with their two points deficit intact with all banners flying and all guns blazing to a home game against Blackburn on Saturday.

Kirkby Team

1. Ryan Holmes
2. Matt Hoyland
3. Pablo Kwiczor
4. Leandro Kwiczor
5. Nick Edney
6. Lwazi Ngcumgama
7. Stuart Storey
8. Craig Galbraith
9. Ben Walker
10. Dave Barton
11. Harry Ralston
12. Ryan Terry
13. Tom Pickthall
14. David Bird
15. Martyn Knapton

Bench
16. Brodie Rowse
17. Scotty Boyd
18. Chris Ramwell

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