Vale 0-20 Penrith

Oli Carter moves the ball.

Oli Carter moves the ball.

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Vale of Lune went down to their second home defeat in successive weeks with a below par performance against a young Penrith side at Powderhouse Lane on Saturday.

And for the third time this season the Lancaster club failed to score any points.

Once again, the game looked to be Vale’s for the taking after they had played into a strong wind and absorbed and survived plenty of pressure in the opening half.

Turning around just three points down and with the wind now at their backs everybody expected more of an attacking onslaught.

But that never happened with Vale struggling to get out of their half and struggling to impose any authority on the opposition.

Instead it was the visitors who looked the more composed, catching Vale out twice with tries through their captain Ryan Johnson and James Spencer who also kicked a conversion.

Mike Fearon added a couple of penalties and another conversion.

All in all it was very much a low key encounter between two pretty indifferent looking sides.

The biting wind might have been responsible for the lack of quality and some of the mistakes, particularly the number of dropped passes from both teams.

There was certainly an air of expectation in the Vale camp as the game got underway.

After all, Oli Carter was back in his rightful No 10 position after time away at


Preston Grasshoppers, Adam Macluskie was restored to the centre where he joined coach Fergus Owens and the general make up of the back division looked to give Vale a cutting edge.

And there were some glimpses of that potential during a 15 minute period when Vale looked the better side.

Their pack had the edge in the tight, but the possession was slow, most of the moves predictable and passes were dropped.

And it was one such dropped pass that put paid to Vale’s best scoring chance after a decent handling move has finally opened up the Penrith defence.

Penrith also scorned a scoring chance as they fought back into the game with some sustained pressure, repelled by some good defence and tackling by Vale.

As the interval neared the visitors were grateful when referee Matthew Riley spotted the infringement that allowed stand-off Mike Fearon to fire over a penalty.

The big crowed on the east bank was bathed in wintery sunshine as the second half got underway.

Now there was that feeling of expectation that the wind advantage would begin to tell, but instead Penrith changed their own tactics keeping the ball much tighter, denying Vale the valuable ball they needed to exploit the elements.

The Cumbrians now looked the more impressive with the ball in hand especially up front and it was the forwards who provided the platform to pressure the Vale defence into the mistake that allowed their captain Ryan Johnson to plunge over for a try which James Spencer converted.

Spencer was on hand to add Penrith’s second try when he followed up on to a grubber kick to touch down.

The scoring move had looked innocuous enough but the kick outwitted Vale’s defence and when Fearon added the conversion and then a penalty, the home supporters knew that the game was over.

In the end, Vale trooped off after their eighth consecutive defeat and whilst there is little doubting that there was disappointment both on and off the field there is also a sense that the team can rise above the current 
problems.