Parkonians put out to pasture.
This weekend saw the Knutsford 1st XV continue their winning ways with a thrilling home victory against a determined Parkonians side.
With the pitch in good condition and the winter sun shining, what was to prove the match of the season so far began with Parkonians winning the toss and playing up the slope after electing to take the kick off.
The high ball was caught by hooker Williams, who in characteristic direct style charged back up field. Some good work by the Knutsford forwards saw the ball recycled through a number of phases until they found themselves deep in the opposition half. Quick ball from scrum half Crawford saw play move rapidly out to the wing where returning Clawson lofted a perfectly weighted chip over his opposite number and sprinted through to collect and score. James was unable to convert from the sideline and Knutsford returned to the centre 5-0 up.
Cook launched the restart and it was Parkonians turn to show some good play with their full-back coming into the line and creating an overlap providing their winger with a clear run in to score in the corner and bring the scores level.
The game restarted once again and this time Knutsford had the upper hand when winger Matt Fuller showing more of the quality form from last weekend came back inside off Catlin and scythed through the defence only to be brought up a meter short of the line by a last ditch tackle from the full back. Unfortunately an awkward landing in the tackle resulted in a dislocated shoulder for Matt and a trip to Macclesfield A&E. After a short pause the game restarted with a Knutsford scrum on the 5m line. The ball came out and showing some of the flair that has made him 2nd highest try scorer this season Cook stepped inside his opposite number to bringing his tally to seven.
With only 15 minutes on the clock and some breathless end to end rugby the game restarted at 10-5. Again Parkonians upped the tempo, with the number 15 continuing to create space the ball came out to the wing once more and with Clawson wrong footed the winger sprinted in to collect his second of the day. With the conversion falling short the scoreline returned to deadlock.
In what was to prove the format for the remainder of the day Knutsford returned the favour. Some strong direct running from Higgson and his back row colleagues gave them a scrum on the 5m line. The much improved Knutsford scrum provided a stable platform, No.8 Edmonds picked up and with the opposition back row seemingly powerless to halt his progress got his 11th of the season and cemented his position as top try scorer, again the conversion dropped short and Knutsford regained their 5 point lead.
With only 30minutes gone and 5 tries on the score board the game was proving enthralling for home and away spectators alike and the last 10 minutes of the 1st half was not to disappoint. A quick restart from Parkonians allowed them to collect the ball from the kick off and with the opposition forwards doing some direct running of their own forced their way up the field. After several phases the ball eventually came out to the backs and once again it was the big No.15 who was to prove troublesome all game who took advantage of some confused Knutsford defending and charged over to score under the posts. This time Parkonians converted and the lead changed hands for the 1st time.
With 40 minutes on the clock the score line was set at 15 to 17 in the visitors favour and the try count stood at 6!
Half time Knutsford 15 Parkonians 17
Parkonians started the 2nd half looking to build on their narrow lead, however after a rousing team talk at half time from Coach Acton the men from Mereheath Lane had other ideas. Prop Hulbert collected the kick and recycled the ball nicely. Some good interlinked play between the forwards and backs saw Knutsford work their way up field until, after spending what seemed an age camped out on the opposition 5m line they gained themselves a penalty for hands in the ruck. Quick ball to the indomitable Robertson saw him fall inches short of getting his 1st of the season his strong running however had sucked in the defence and spotting the overlap Cook shipped the ball wide leaving James with time and space to cross over the line to bring the score to 20-17. Again the conversion fell short.
The game returned to the centre and Parkonians kicked off. Knutsford collected and looked to move the ball upfield through the forwards. When the ball unexpectedly came out to the backs, seizing the opportunity new recruit Catlin slipped mellifluously through a seemingly invisible gap and sprinted the length of the Parkonians half to score under the posts. With the ball in front of the posts this time James slotted the conversion and the gap lengthened to 10 points.
Not to be out done the Parkonians side showed some great resilience and fought back immediately with a double blow to Knutsford. After some strong forwards play they slipped the ball out to the inside center who crashed over in the corner. This was followed shortly after by another try for their dangerous full back to bring the score level.
With 10 minutes remaining Knutsford rallied and began once again to move the ball up field to the 22 where fullback James spotted a gap and coming into the line at pace crossed in the corner to collect his second of the day. With less than 2 minutes on the clock the game looked to be in the bag but Parkonians had other ideas with the stand off slipping the ball inside to the 15 who, having steam rollered his way over for 2 tries already that day looked to do the same. However 2nd row Dunkerley had other ideas and providing a practical demonstration of Newtonian physics showed what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object The result was an early departure for the 15 and a tremendous cheer of welcome relief from the home crowd.
Still determined to play to the final whstle Parkonians pushed again and when an overzealous Knutsford hand crept into the ruck gained a penalty. With no time on the clock the visitors had no choice but to go for the 3 points and the draw. The spectators and both teams held their breath as the replacement kicker lined up and launched the ball straight towards the center of the uprights, but the distance proved too much and the ball came down just short of the cross bar, James collected the ball and sent it spiralling into touch to end what is certain to be a much recounted game.
Both side produced some excellent rugby and the home side will be looking to continue their winning form when they travel to meet newcomers Liverpool Rangers in two weeks time. Meanwhile the 2nd XV travel to Whitchurch next week looking for their fourth win of the season.
Photography by: Jonathan Farber
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