Knutsford 2s dwarfed by Crewe and Nantwich giants
The game was memorable for the way Knutsford 2s started the game and dominated the early stages. Their lineout and scrum were much improved, due in no small part to the return to action of prop Siwek and tall southerner Matt Southgate who was paired in the second-row for the first time with the lively Alex Nelstrop. The strength of the pack, which has been inconsistent for most of the season was a noticeable improvement in the team’s overall performance.
The return of veteran crooner Johnny Parr, after his long stint at the Bellagio in Vegas, to the No 8 slot brought a great deal of experience in the rucks and mauls. Despite the early dominance of territory and possession Knutsford struggled to breakdown the C and N defence. As Crewe began to get into the game, Knutsford capitalised on turn over ball to attack down the left wing with Kiwi fullback MacDonald. MacDonald put in 17 year old winger Bobby Hamilton in for his first try for the club. Hamilton, sporting some questionable eyebrow styling has played exceptionally well since joining the club and deserved his first try due to his great support play.
Crewe got back into the game well with two tries and a conversion to leave the score at 12-7 at half time – this was particularly galling as the 2nd try was clearly held up over the line! Crewe showed their greater bench strength by bringing on a number of substitutes including a No8 rather ironically called Tiny! The ability to make the most of the league rule on rolling subs is something that Knutsford must capitalise on if they are to prevent fading in the 2nd half of games. The refreshed Crewe pack began to dominate in the 2nd half and rack up the tries in combination with some strong running from their backs, many of whom clearly should be playing higher up their organisation, but for various reasons choose to ply their trade well below their ability!
Again Knutsford rallied and made some progress into Crewe territory, showing character to fluke a second try through the Knutsford 9. There were many positives in the game despite the 40-12 loss. The scrum was amazingly solid, the lineout was better organised and secure, new boy Duncan (?) made a great start at 10, Bobby Hamilton scored a try and Knutsford again made an outstanding start. There were many outstanding performers on the day with Tony Turner tackling well in the first half before a neck injury, Southgate and Nelstrop combining well, Jordan Lyon hooking well and Jose Malaspina (nicknames on a postcard please!) having his best game for the club. Anglo-Venezuelan Malaspina playing at blindside spend the best part of the game tackling the Crewe 8, Tiny McClelland, who at 19 stone and 6’5, had a slight size advantage over the plucky south american. Malaspina stuck to his task and put the huge 8 down time after time.
The game highlighted the problems faced by this team – inconsistency of performance, lineup and depth of reserves. The boys on the day performed very well against better, bigger opposition doing little wrong. The difference between last year’s title winners and this season’s line up is the failure to get the same guys on the park week on week. Roll on next week – an alpine expedition to Buxton to play on their farmers-field of a ploughed pitch!