Millom v Hawcoat Park 1st XV

Millom (0) v Hawcoat Park (33)

Saturday 4th December 2020

The maroon and whites managed to earn the double in the Duddon estuary derby but were made to work very hard by old friends Millom in a game where the eventual score line did not reflect how tight a contest took place.

The early exchanges were fairly even as both teams got back into the swing of things after the festive break. Millom had a big powerful pack who were running strongly and our defence had to be good to manage the pressure applied.

Strong runs by John Donnan and Scott Dobbie took place into the Millom 22 but the home sides defence was equally as strong to keep us out.

The stalemate was broken midway through the half. Fly half George Smith hoisted a high ‘up and under’ as the Millom defender caught the ball outstanding back row Alfie White hit him with a perfectly timed tackle. As the ball came loose centre Will Coles booted the ball on and retaining good control over 40 metres or so won the chase to the ball to touch down for the try. Smith added the conversion, 0 – 7. Soon after young Jack Ostin who was having another promising game in his development had to leave the field with a nasty knee injury further reducing our limited line out options in an area we were already struggling.

The last ten minutes of the half were all Millom as they battered away at our try line, using a strong scrum on the back of a few penalties we were really under the cosh. This was the key element of the game as a Millom try could have changed the whole game. Our defence had to be really strong with the likes of Andy Kent and his front row colleagues of Adam Grainger and Dobbie leading from the front. The half time whistle came as welcome relief certainly from a maroon and white point of view. Half time 0 – 7.

The early exchanges of the second half followed a similar pattern a good close hard physical battle right across the pitch. Missing key line out personnel we continued to struggle to win the ball. The difference to the game came at the point when we changed to a strategy of complete ball retention moving the ball at every opportunity. The platform was set by the strong running of the outstanding Grady Slater, White and Lee Van Haren who made all the yard yards up front, scrum half Jack Shannon and Smith controlled the play well as we looked to bring some pace into the game against the now tiring bigger Millom lads. Skipper Chris Burns collected the important second try 15 minutes into the half. Following good runs by Alex Brown and Benji Platt down the left wing, the ball was stretched the other direction through many hands before White slipped a near short pass for Burns to finish off the try. Smith again converted 0 – 14.

Three further trys followed all enjoyed by the supporters who had made the trip round the bay, all scored by wingers and following good handling involving all players and good team efforts. Platt collected two and had Jack Sutherland and Ryan Clegg to thank for the good final efforts to free him up to get the trys his earlier play had deserved.

Glenn Kaighan scored the other and had run well when given opportunity. Burns now operating in the back row provided the final pass from a good off load and earlier good work by Alex Brown and Coles. Smith kicked well all game only just missing one difficult conversion. Final Score, 0 – 33.

This was a good team performance from the maroon and whites never an easy place to play and the score did not reflect Millom’s committed efforts. Surviving on what must have been 35% possession our defence had to be good to ‘nil’ a determined Millom side and then to score five team trys all pleasing on the eye made this a good start to 2020.

John Horne, Hawcoat Rugby Union

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