Greens made to graft
WITH back to back high scoring wins in the bag, Ormskirk’s confidence was at a high for the visit of North Manchester to Green Lane last Saturday.
Never a push over, the visitors had been a thorn in Ormskirk’s side in previous encounters, so it was a game not to be taken lightly.
From the outset Manchester were on the front foot, using their large set of forwards to try and create gaps in the home defences.
Ormskirk were up to the task and initially contained these forceful drives to the visitors’ own half but gradually they gave up ground by committing penalties at the rucks.
Ormskirk slowly came to grips with this Manchester high energy opening period and despite being on the back foot in the set scrum they won enough ball to make their way up field.
Cleanly won lineout ball by Ormskirk was moved through their own forwards for a number of phases, when number eight Lee Arrowsmith broke through the defensive tackles and strode unopposed to the line for the opening score, converted by Tom Owens.
Against the run of play, this was a surprise 7-0 lead for the home side as the majority of play had been in Manchester hands.
An Ormskirk scrum following the kick off was lost as the home pack was driven backwards allowing the Manchester scrum half to pick up and race clear.
Good defensive tackling stopped him short of the line in the corner, but Manchester were now on a roll.
Their forwards drove hard with good rucking and quick ball which put the Ormskirk defences under great pressure, but as in past games their line held firm.
Manchester’s frustration at not being able to turn their pressure into points saw them give penalties away at the ruck area allowing Ormskirk to kick their way up field.
Once into Manchester’s 22 area Ormskirk’s forwards made successive drives for the line but the visitors’ defence was just as stubborn and refused to give way, holding the ball up over the line.
The ball won at the resulting five metre scrum was again taken up by the forwards and again they were kept out.
Sufficient defenders had been drawn in to leave gaps out wide which skipper Mike Knowles exploited for an unconverted try in the left corner.
With enough ball, Ormskirk had the fire power in the back line to punish the visitors but Manchester were making life difficult by using their forwards as their main offensive play and not giving the ball up easily.
A turn over ball in the tackle by Ormskirk was moved quickly through hands for winger James Lang to make a break, cutting inside the defences.
Although eventually tackled, quick recycled ball reached Owens to burst clear, score under the posts, and then convert his own try.
The scoreline of 19-0 did not reflect the way the game had gone, Manchester’s display deserved more and they were still in with a shout.
Determined driving forced Orm-