Shrop­shire Gold on and off field

Stockport Express - - Sport - SOUTH LAN­CASHIRE & CHESHIRE 1 OSWESTRY ..................... 16 HEATON MOOR ............. 22 DAVID TODD

MOOR trav­elled to North Shrop­shire on Satur­day in their first away fix­ture of the sea­son to play Oswestry, hav­ing to make four en­forced changes to the side from the pre­vi­ous week; two in the backs and two in the for­wards.

The only pre­vi­ous league game be­tween the sides at this venue oc­curred two sea­sons pre­vi­ously, when the home side had a rea­son­ably com­fort­able vic­tory on their way to pro­mo­tion to SLC1, but as Oswestry had been rel­e­gated at the end of last sea­son, Moor were cau­tiously op­ti­mistic about their chances, es­pe­cially af­ter their re­sound­ing vic­tory the pre­vi­ous week.

Af­ter a ten­ta­tive start by both sides, it was not long be­fore Moor took com­mand of the game.

Fol­low­ing a li­ne­out from a penalty kick deep in the op­po­si­tion half, the vis­i­tors pro­ceeded to pro­duce a sus­tained driv­ing maul, which re­sulted in a try for lock Ben Jones; winger Olly Reynolds fail­ing with the at­tempted con­ver­sion as he un­for­tu­nately slipped on the damp sur­face as the ball was kicked.

Moor then failed to col­lect the ball cleanly from the restart, which en­abled the home side to put them un­der pres­sure and re­sulted in the lat­ter be­ing awarded a penalty, which was eas­ily kicked.

This set­back did not faze Moor how­ever, as they again took com­mand and both their for­wards and backs re­peat­edly punched holes in the op­po­si­tion de­fence, forc­ing them to con­cede a num­ber of penal­ties.

From one such in­stance mid­way through the half, Moor scored their se­cond try in an al­most iden­ti­cal man­ner to their first, but this time it was lock Jack Briggs who crossed the line, with Reynolds con­vert­ing.

Again, Oswestry re­duced the deficit with another penalty kick, but Moor con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate as their for­wards sup­plied their back line with am­ple pos­ses­sion and on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions, chances of ex­tend­ing their lead were thrown away due to the wrong op­tion be­ing taken when in the clear.

When­ever the home side did have pos­ses­sion, Moor’s de­fence was solid, which pre­vented any mean­ing­ful ad­vance from tak­ing place.

Shortly be­fore the break, the vis­i­tor’s su­peri- or­ity was fi­nally re­warded, when a move down their back line re­sulted in full­back Matt Hughes us­ing his strength and pace to over­come at­tempted tack­les and he raced in from half­way to score; the at­tempted con­ver­sion be­ing just wide.

The in­ter­val score of 17-6 to Moor was just re­ward for their ef­forts and but for a few un­forced er­rors, the mar­gin could have been greater.

From the restart, Moor con­tin­ued where they left off and scored their best and bonus-point try of the game from another play by the backs.

This time, the ball was fed out to winger Jack Humpage who ran pow­er­fully up the line and as he was about to be tack­led, passed in­side to cen­tre Chris Sut­ton, who fin­ished off the move with a try near to the posts, but the con­ver­sion was in­ex­pli­ca­bly missed.

From this point, the home side came back into the game; it was not ob­vi­ous whether this was as a re­sult of Moor tak­ing their foot off the pedal, think­ing that they had the game sewn up or Oswestry re­dou­bling their ef­forts in front of a home crowd – prob­a­bly a bit of both. What­ever the rea­son, play for the last half-an-hour was con­fined al­most en­tirely to the Moor half of the field.

Oswestry scored the first of two tries in this pe­riod when Moor were pe­nalised twice in rapid or­der and with their de­fence in a bit of a dis­ar­ray, the se­cond penalty was quickly taken by the op­po­si­tion’s scrum-half and he darted over for an un­con­verted try.

Shortly af­ter­wards, the vis­i­tor’s task was made even harder as Jones was sin-binned for tack­ling the Oswestry No. 8 with­out the ball.

Al­though the in­ci­dent sounds se­ri­ous, and in other cir­cum­stances might have re­sulted in an even harsher pun­ish­ment, the spec­ta­cle was slightly com­i­cal – well, for all ex­cept the No. 8, who had to leave the field.

It ap­peared to play­ers and spec­ta­tors alike that the home side’s fly-half was about to pass to the afore­said No. 8, but the pass was ex­pertly dum­mied.

Jones how­ever, had al­ready lined up the un­for­tu­nate for­ward and be­ing com­mit­ted to the tackle, brought him down with a text­book hit.

Now play­ing with a man short in the en­gine-room, Moor’s scrums were to­tally dis­rupted, re­sult­ing in Oswestry putting their vis­i­tors un­der con­stant pres­sure.

To Moor’s credit, they did man­age to de­fend their line and pre­vented the op­po­si­tion from adding to their tally dur­ing this pe­riod with a man short.

Even when Moor re­turned to a full com­pli­ment of play­ers, play re­mained in their half and the home side con­tin­ued to threaten.

Deep into in­jury time, Moor again had a man yel­low-carded and this time, Oswestry man­aged to score, with a try from the last play of the game and so sal­vaged a los­ing bonus-point, as Moor ran out 22-16 win­ners.

This was a good per­for­mance by Moor for most of the game, with both at­tack and de­fence be­ing well-ex­e­cuted and they stuck to their jobs ably even when at a dis­ad­van­tage.

And to add to the Moor sup­port­ers’ en­joy­ment, they were to dis­cover that the bar served the ex­cel­lent Shrop­shire Gold, which made for a thor­oughly sat­is­fac­tory end to the day’s pro­ceed­ings.

Next week, Moor host newly pro­moted Aspull at Green Lane, kick off 3pm.

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