For the Vale of Lune, history was made at Moss Lane as the visitors recorded their first victory on Liverpool St Helens’ territory since March 1992, and also their first win at league level at this venue.
In a game of high drama that contained a plethora of controversy surrounding the Vale’s second try, the visitors stretched their unbeaten record to five games but were unable to collect a try bonus point for the first time in the campaign and were knocked off their top spot in the league by Sale FC on points difference.
Gareth Tudor had an immense game at number eight, winger James Curran was unflinching in his commitment to the cause, Danny Lin was at his predatory best and Sam Wallbank generated a head of steam that threatened to go off the scale.
Jimmy Moore, in his 100th game, produced a masterful performance and controlled the second half with his ball distribution and line kicking. In addition he kicked two conversions and four penalty goals.
Another player to reach an important personal milestone was club captain and long serving player Andy Garnett, who was making his 150th appearance.
Playing with the gusty wind at their backs, Liverpool St Helens took the game to the Vale initially via their threequarters before the forwards started to smuggle the ball around.
Forced ever deeper in defence the Vale’s 22 became an area where one error or one missed tackle could spell disaster.
Eventually the prolonged pounding paid off for LSH when flanker Jamie Clare scuttled over for an unconverted try in the 16th minute, after the big guns had softened up the Vale.
Four minutes later James Hodder ripped through from deep to earn the Vale a penalty which Moore directed accurately through the wind.
One of the outcomes of the penalty was that an LSH player was sin binned but in the 24th minute their lead was extended when stand off Greg Smith larruped a penalty over from half way.
Unable to take advantage of having an extra player the Vale drifted further behind when Smith clipped over a second penalty in the 28th minute.
But in the 30th minute the Vale had closed the gap to a single point.
Moore cut loose with one of his balanced, snake hipped runs that saw him gliding past the defenders and as his drew in the last he slipped a pass to Lee Acton, who appeared on his left elbow.
The lock forward pinned back his ears to sprint 15 metres for his try which Moore converted from in front.
In the closing minutes LSH brought their muscle men into the game.
Smith hit an upright with a penalty attempt as the Vale bravely defended their line with some iron-willed tackling.
The Vale began the second half with a free flowing attack from inside their own half instigated by Hodder of course, and carried on by Garnett.
Unfortunately, the Vale were unable to capitalise on their spirited opening and the first serious LSH attack produced a converted try in the 52nd minute.
Full back Neil Hull, who spent the 2008/09 season at the Vale, carved his way downfield in a move that was completed by centre Paul McLindon with a try converted by Smith.
The next score from the Vale was contentious to say the least and provoked some heated verbal exchanges on and off the field.
Curran chased down a long kick that bobbled its way into LSH’s dead ball area and looked certain to be grounded by at least one hovering defender.
Vale’s winger never gave up his mission and when the ball squirmed away from a defender’s hand he pounced to claim a try.
Referee Bentham confirmed it a legitimate score and while LSH‘s players fumed and pawed the ground, Moore calmly put over the conversion in the 56th minute.
The chuntering continued as the game restarted, referee Bentham had enough of the ear bashing he was receiving and awarded the Vale a penalty which Moore kicked from half way.
With the game finely poised Smith pushed a penalty wide, Curran produced a try saving tackle as LSH tried to take advantage of Alex Cowey’s spell in the sin bin, but with four minutes remaining Moore kicked a penalty and later the number 10 added a final penalty after he had been obstructed to seal victory.
Vale of Lune: J Hodder; J Dorrington, A Powers, J Higgin, J Curran; J Moore, D Wilson (Capt); J Hesketh, O Cowey, A Cowey (J O’Donnell 29/40); L Acton, S Wallbank; A Garnett, D Lin, G Tudor
Sale FC registered their highest North One West victory of the season, 80-0 at home against Fleetwood to leapfrog the Vale of Lune at the head of the table.
Carlisle, whose only defeat of the season so far was at home against Liverpool St Helens, won away at Manchester, 38-5. Altrincham Kersal are undefeated after four games following their away win at Leigh, 43-6.
After their bright opening, Wirral lost for the second Saturday in succession at Widnes, 25-21.
Anselmians were unable to recapture their high scoring form of the previous week going down at Rochdale, 53-10.
Kirkby Lonsdale, who will travel to the Vale of Lune, on Saturday, lost at home to Wilmslow, 29-5.
Against Liverpool St Helens, Andy Garnett was making his 150th appearance after making his debut in Barcelona in May 1998 on a first team tour where he scored a try, his total stands at 31.
Also against Liverpool St Helens Jimmy Moore reached a career milestone when he played his 100th game.
He made his debut at Lymm in November 2002 and ended the season as leading points scorer with 230, a feat he achieved the following season with a total of 292.
He left to join Sale Sharks at the end of the 2003/04 season and then after playing for Cornish Pirates returned to the Vale at the start of the 2010/11 season.
Vale have been drawn away against Wigan in the second round of the Brian Leigh Lancashire Trophy after being awarded a walkover in the opening round when Warrington withdrew from the competition; the tie is to be played on November 10.