Seconds Squander Slender Lead
The Knutsford boys, who have not been able to reach their normally high standard of play for some time now, led the game for nearly 75 minutes against Heaton Moor. Virtually the same group of players who played in the defeat at Crewe and Nantwich last weekend, which marked the season’s low point for the team, managed to put in a sparkling peformance against a strong and experienced Heaton Moor team.
After an early Moor penalty Knutsford scored three tries in quick succession through Kelly, McGarrigle and Sawyer, all of which were converted by 17 year old fullback Lawrence James. These tries highlighted the strengths of the Knutsford team, which took them to the league championship and promotion last season. A combination of aggressive pressure in defence, slick back play and excellent support running from the back row in particular showed how devastating this team can be. The lead could have been extended further as James struck the upright with a difficult penalty kick early in the half.
At the turn around Knutsford were leading 21-8 and were looking comfortable. They pilled the pressure on Moor and looked likely to go further into the lead. However Moor managed to edge their way back into the game as Knutsford failed to make the most of their possession. Moor scored a couple of tries to bring the score to 21-20 but as the clock ticked away Knutsford were still doing enough to hold on to their lead. Knutsford made two crucial mistakes by failing to opt for the points from penalties as the half progressed, prefering instead to run the ball in the spirit of attacking rugby. They paid the ultimate penalty in the last two minutes they were penalised twice on their own 10 metre line for killing the ball. Moor opted to kick on both occasions, missing the first attempt, but succeeding with the second as the final whistle blew to take the match 23-21.
Knutsford’s team, which included 6 teenagers, must learn quickly that as they progress up the leagues they need to hold onto leads and grind out victories. On a positive note however the performance of the team showed an amazing turn around after the usually long run of defeats. There were also excellent individual performances from man of the match Greg Sawyer at open-side, Alex Nelthorpe at Blind-side and great tackling from youngster Sam Kemp. Stevie McGuiness and Lawrence James were both excellent on their return to the team. Knutsford will look to build on this performance as they welcome back a number of injured players in the coming weeks.
Next week – Oswestry 2nds at home, kick off 2.15.
visit the club’s website at www.knutsfordrugby.com