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Port sunlight offer little resistance in the baking heat.
There were a few forced changes to last week’s winning team with Kemp coming in at hooker, Davenport getting his first start in over a year and Selkirk featuring at 10.
Both teams spent opening 10 minutes trying to get the upper hand and control field position. Sunlight kicked a lot of ball deep trying to pin Knutsford into their 22, but some steady play from the three quarter combination of Lockett, Davenport and Crawford meant that Knutsford dealt well with their kicking game. Strong running and deep return kicks ensured most of the first 15 minutes were played in the middle third of the field.
Knutsford‘s dominance at the lineout allowed them to set up rolling mauls and make good progress, with strong runs from the centres creating clean ball off the set plays.
As a result they deservedly scored first, with Snook getting his first try for the 1st’s following several well constructed mauls off yet another excellent line out. Snook peeled off the maul which was already at the line to flop over unopposed to score.
Sunlight continued to look threatening throughout the first period and were only prevent from raiding the Knutsford 22 by a well organized defence. Sunlight continued their kicking strategy and were lucky not to be punished by the veteran Lockett, who collected a kick 20 metres inside his own half, beat the first man and then scythed through 4 other tackles, finally being brought to a halt entering the Sunlight 22.
Knutsford began to exert themselves on Sunlight and scored again on the 30 minute mark after some big forward carries down the right flank. With quick recycling and constant phase play stretching the Sunlight defence Selkirk was allowed to stroll over unimpeded under the sticks to take the Knutsford lead to 14-0.
Knutsford stretched their lead on the half time mark. A good kick and chase left Sunlight’s defenders isolated and resulted in a penalty. A quick tap by Mooney result in him scoring under the posts, to leave Knutsford 19-0 at half time.
Knutsford failed to capitalise on their strong position in the second half, Sunlight controlled field position and Knutsford spent the first 20 minutes of the half entrenched on their own 22. Ill discipline from Knutsford was also starting to take its toll under the pressure and Crawford was sin binned with 17 minutes remaining.
Sunlight were finally rewarded for their pressure. Knutsford‘s stretched defense allowed their scrum half to break around the fringes and feed the supporting inside centre to score under the sticks, 19-7 with 15 minutes to play.
Knutsford looked tired and heads dropped. They needed a spark to re-ignite their performance and with 10 to play Bond stole the ball from a Sunlight maul. Following the steal, one of the Sunlight players questioned the legality of Bond’s play and were dually dispatched to the sin bin for the remainder of the game.
With the teams on level numbers again, Knutsford sealed their victory after another Edmond’s turn over in Sunlight’s 22 allowed Robertson to smash the ball up the middle of the defence. Fast recycling saw the backs with acres of space to play in, and Lockett was released to score in the corner.
Sunlight scored with the final play to finish 24-12 but Knutsford looked good for their victory. Despite not being at their best, Knutsford managed to control the game and the score board. Improved set pieces, with hooker Kemp winning man of the match gave Knutsford a reliable and consistent platform from which to build towards the winning result.