Greens made to graft as Manchester are subdued
BY VINCE ELLIS
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 Ormskirk back into their 22 and Manchester were awarded a scrum ten metres out.
Their superiority at the set scrum was finally rewarded as Ormskirk were driven backwards towards their own line, only the scrum collapsing stopped the move.
The referee penalised Ormskirk for the collapse and awarded a well deserved penalty try to the visitors, this 19-7 score bringing up the interval.
The restart saw Ormskirk determined to put the game to bed, but over eagerness brought mistakes which allowed Manchester to stay in the game.
At the scrummage Manchester were still overpowering the home side and as they were driven off their own ball, the Ormskirk defensive line, on the back foot, was breached allowing the visitors a second score in the corner.
At 19-12 Manchester were back in the game and the home side needed to dig deep to stay ahead, yet knew that they only needed good attacking ball to increase their lead.
Overturning a ball in their own half they quickly turned defence into attack, moving the ball wide right through hands the try line was begging only for the final pass to go astray.
At the scrum Manchester tried to kick clear only for the ball to be charged down.
Ormskirk recovered the ball and the forward’s drive to the line resulted in Steve Rouke going over for the bonus point fourth try converted by Tom Owens.
Ormskirk began to gain ascendancy in the play as their superior back play began to make large inroads into a tiring Manchester defensive line.
A pick up from the base of the scrum by Lloyd Jones took the ball from his own 22 to within 20 metres of the visitors’ line, recycled ball reached Jake Hodson’s hands only for him to be tap tackled short of the score.
Not to be denied, Ormskirk won scrum ball and Jones again made the impact with a try from a pick at the base, 31-12.
The Manchester forwards were still able to gain ground and push Ormskirk back but their threat was now being contained and Ormskirk were able to launch counter attacking moves from their own half.
Scrum ball was moved to the blindside for winger Alex Gaughan to break away, draw the opposition and pass inside allowing Jake Hodson to ghost in under the sticks, 38-12 after the Owens conversion.
Straight from the restart Ormskirk completed a copy of the previous try with the ball reaching Alex Gaughan, again drawing the defender he linked with Jake Hodson for his second converted try and the last score of the game.
The 45-12 final score did flatter the home side slightly as Manchester were in with a shout for 75 minutes of the game.
There is now a break from League games until the first week in December, but next Saturday Ormskirk take on either Newton-le-Willows or Birchfield in the second round of the Alan Stone Lancashire Bowl.
Ormskirk in action during the win over Manchester