Light at the end of the tunnel for Knutsford 2nds
The morning started bright and early with a pitch inspection at 11.00 to see if the overnight frost was going to cause further problems for an already congested fixture list. However, with the sun coming out and the ground softening the referee decided that the pitch was playable and the already overworked Knutsford fixture secretary breathed a sigh of relief.
Having been the victims of an 84 – 0 mauling at the hands of the visitors Broughton Park the last time they met, Chris Edmonds men started the game as the underdogs, but this encounter was to prove an entirely different prospect. Evidence of the change was immediately obvious with Selkirk’s kick off being recovered by the home side just over the 10m line, which put Knutsford on the front foot straight away. With the Knutsford pack showing what it’s capable of, the ball was forced up the field through strong running from Higgins and Edmonds, the home side were camped in front of the opposition’s posts 10 yards out. With quick ball looking likely and the pressure beginning to tell, the visitors decided that 3 was better than 7 and killed the ball with hands in the ruck. Selkirk duly converted the resulting penalty.
From the restart a Knutsford wobble led to an attacking lineout on the 5m line for the visitors. The ball came in and Hopewell managed to get a hand to it but with the ball the wrong side of the try line and some confusion in the ranks, the Broughton park flanker managed to sneak through and touch it down before anybody knew what had happened. The conversion narrowly scraped over and the score was 7 – 3. With both sides showing some good play despite the muddy conditions the game was end to end stuff. As half time approached a break down in communication in the Knutsford back line resulted in an opportunistic try for the visitors and a more than flattering half time score line. 17- 3
With a rallying speech from the captain and some vocal support from the side line the homeside began to show some true grit. Higgins caught the restart and with a customarily titanic charge changed the tempo of the game. With some good running by the forwards, particularly new recruits Baxter and Page, the pack drove up the centre of the field. After some quality ball retention Knutsford found themselves on the oppositions five meter line and when quick ball came out to the backs Selkirk slipped a short pass inside to the charging Lockett who, after bursting through two tackles touched down under the posts. A momentarily lack of composure from the normally metronomic Selkirk resulted in a missed conversion
There was none of the earlier confusion from the restart and Knutsford began to dominate. With several strong periods of play and new prospect Crawford working well at scrum half, the Knutsford backs showed some glimpse of what’s to come with good runs from young wingers Johnson and Hill. Finally the sustained pressure began to pay of with a series of infractions resulting in two converted penalties bringing the score line to a respectable 17-16. The front row was working well, backed up by good work in the engine room from Dunkerly and Baxter and so Knutsford began to push Broughton off the ball resulting in a delighted Dawson winning a few against the head. From a scrum five metres out the now dominant Knutsford got the shunt on which resulted in a push over try for Edmonds to put Knutsford in the lead at 19 – 17 unfortunately Selkirk was unable to convert from the touch line.
Alas the fairy tale ending was not to be and two mistakes by Knutsford resulted in a brace of opportunistic tries for the Broughton winger and a flattering scoreline at the final whistle of 19 – 27
On reflection there were some moments of brilliance from this Knutsford outfit and some promising displays from a young team. Knutsford have a lot of positives to take from the game and now look forward to the remainder of this season, with their next league game against Alti Kersal in a fortnights time. Next week the mighty Kasuals have a cup game at home against Kirby Lonsdale.