Vale of Lune returned to winning league ways but their victory was tinged with sadness because it was to be Jimmy Moore’s last game.
The number ten led the side out against Leigh, and his three penalties and one conversion not only secured a psychological victory but brought his points total to 1,010 from his 110 Vale appearances following his two spells with the cherry and whites.
Moore played a vital role in a highly watchable and compelling game of competitive rugby for the neutrals present on a grey overcast day at The Lane.
In a game where the pendulum swung back and forth there were passages of pulsating rugby, in particular from the hosts in the opening ten minutes, plus some uncompromising, substantial exchanges that pulsated throughout the encounter until the final whistle.
There was a palpable edge to the game, but it was always on the right side of legit, and for all its warts and blemishes the contest was brimming with passion.
It was not a classic in the accepted sense of the word, but a game that stretched the tightrope of tension to near breaking point with the final outcome in doubt until the unflappable Moore kicked two late penalty goals to sign off with a flourish.
After two uninspiring performances at Rochdale and Wirral the Vale badly needed to bring some confidence and energy back to their game which they did in spades in the opening minutes of their first home fixture of the year.
In the third minute, man of the match, skipper Darren Wilson, scooped up a loose ball and scampered away from thirty five metres out with all the energy that was displayed by his puppy straining on the leash on the touchline, for a solo try converted by Moore from in front.
Three minutes later Moore orchestrated an audacious score from behind his goal line. The stand-off broke right, exchanged passes with winger Nick Royle inside the Vale’s twenty two before Royle opened the throttle for a fifty metre run that ended in an unconverted try.
At this stage there was no holding the Vale. Sam Wallbank, in his one hundredth appearance, kicked on and chased down the ball before the Vale added to their score with another crisply constructed try that brought back memories of those flourishing try scoring September days.
The ball was winged crossfield, passes were taken at speed, debutant centre, David Haigh drew in the cover before delivering the perfect pass to James Hodder. Back on the wing Hodder displayed his talents for such a position with a dipping, sliding run that took him inside the defenders for an unconverted try in the tenth minute.
With the try bonus point sign beginning to flicker the Vale appeared to be on course but Leigh had other ideas, they started to tie the Vale down and in the thirteenth minute full back Elliot Ryan swept over a penalty goal and suddenly the visitors started to tear up Vale’s script.
Leigh’s well built forwards took some stopping in full flight, Danny Lin had no trouble halting them with his ankle high tackling, but too many Vale players went high and were swatted easily away in some unequal physical collisions.
Unable to sustain their opening, the Vale’s game suddenly looked pedestrian and in the sixteenth minute scrum half David Wood picked the Vale’s pocket when he snaffled up a loose ball to go over unopposed through a huge gap for a try converted by Elliot.
Following this score the game settled into a pattern with the defences generally on top but it was noticeable that the Leigh forwards were blending into an efficient unit. One of their most pivotal players, number eight, Calvin Crompton, was at the heart of action and fully deserved his try with eight minutes remaining when he powered over from a line out, Ryan converted to level the scores.
Both sides tried to break the deadlock with a number of promising sorties in the second half but the all avenues were blocked. Following a passage of concerted rugby the Vale were awarded a penalty which Moore kicked in the fifty sixth minute.
Vale’s lead only lasted for five minutes. Ryan kicked a penalty from in front and the game settled down into a familiar pattern because neither side could find the necessary penetration to fashion a try, but with the clock ticking down a draw looked on the cards.
In the seventy fifth minute Moore kicked a penalty goal and suddenly the Vale scented victory but they knew that any slip up would be punished and everyone would be required to play their part.
They stood toe to toe with Leigh and it was fitting that Moore kicked a penalty with the his final kick of the game; a last flourish from the little maestro who had served the Vale so well and will always be remembered as a very talented player who brought an extra dimension to the Vale’s game.
Vale of Lune: R Ward (A Macluskie 44); N Royle, S Moorby, D Haigh, J Hodder; J Moore, D Wilson (Capt); A Cowey (P Berry 9), O Cowey, M Hanson ( A Cowey 72); L Acton, H Fellows (B Charnley 40); S Wallbank, D Lin, G Tudor
Man of the Match: D Wilson
Match Sponsors: Burton and Fisher, Financial Services
Ball Sponsor: Bob Turner