Didsbury edge win on resumption of derby clash
MOOR welcomed Didsbury Toc H to Green Lane for a renewal of acquaintances that has been sorely missed of late after a period of several years where both clubs have plied their trade in the Cheshire and Lancashire Competitions respectively.
Moor ,who have made a solid start to the league campaign, were looking to record a second home win in seven days.
But injuries badly affected the starting line up, particularly in the back division where fullback Matt Hughes’ pace would be sorely missed along with centre Chris Sutton, who was forced to withdraw before the game with a haematoma.
That required back row Kingsley Child to switch to the three quarter, much to the heartbreak of his brother Danny and all Moor supporters.
Toc in contrast have made a stuttering start to the season but now appear to be finding their feet and have gathered some momentum in recent weeks. The Moor coaches were certainly aware that it was not going to be an easy game.
The game kicked off on a resplendent Green Lane surface with the Moor pack very much to the fore with some excellent picks and drives that forced Toc on to the back foot.
The story of the game looked like it would be the Moor pack versus the youth of the Didsbury pacemen as the home side appeared dominant in the early set piece with the first Toc scrum completely obliterated by the Moor 8.
Despite the strong start from the home side the Toc defence showed no sign of buckling until a side entry at the breakdown saw the referee penalise the visitors with fly half Jack Wilson taking three points to open the scoring.
From the restart, Moor themselves conceded a penalty that allowed Toc to set their own platform through the forwards which allowed them to build the phases and pressure before the ball was moved left via some adroit handling that outflanked the Moor defence for an excellent score in the corner.
The conversion was missed, however.
Moor immediately came back strongly and, after some good play between the backs and forwards, won a penalty more or less in front of the posts.
A decision was then made to opt for a scrum where all of those of us with the benefit of hindsight knew the ball should have been popped over for a 6-5 lead.
With hopes high of a pushover, the ball was heeled only for it bounce agonisingly in to the Toc side of the scrum where it was immediately run out of defence. The impressive Tom Ireland turned the ball over for centre Chris Ogden Smith only for the a long pass to be intercepted and the Toc centre gleefully went the length of the field to see what should have been 6-5 become 3-12.
Moor’s afternoon then took a serious turn south after tight head prop Sam Ireland sent to the sin bin.
To their credit, the Moor boys held out for the duration of Sam’s sin-binning only for Toc to score another good try after again patiently building through the phases that saw the blindside flanker crash over from short range to take the score to 3-17.
Moor set about turning the game around by getting the first score of the second half after a superb catch and drive from a lineout which started from outside the Toc 22
The Moor 8 marched their opposite numbers back over their own line, resulting in back row Luke Shelborne flopping over the line in what was an outstanding piece of forward play using skill, nous, discipline and no shortage of grunt to pull the score back to 8-17.
As the half wore on, Moor started to take control of proceedings.
After another piece of superb forward play, No 8 Ben Jones powered over from short range to make it 15-17 after the conversion. With hopes now high of a comeback, Moor conceded a poor score after a turnover close to the Moor line allowed Toc to score from short range to pull the lead out to 22-15.
But Moor finally achieved parity after good work from the forwards allowed Ben Jones the platform from the scrum to take the ball to just short of the line where tighthead Ireland applied a great finish from close range that was easily converted to set up a grand stand finish with the scores locked at 22-22.
For all the world it looked as though Moor were going to push for a victory that seemed so unlikely at half time as they intercepted a poor Didsbury lineout only to lose possession in midfield, allowing Toc’s pacy left wing to run hard at his opposite number. A slick offload to his inside support runner set up the final score of the day to take the game 29-22.
In conclusion, a superb game of rugby between close rivals played in good spirit.
Moor can take good heart from working their way back in to a game that looked like they were going to win. The forwards to a man were superb but full credit to Toc for absorbing all that was thrown at them and pulling off the win.