Vale 33-41 Liverpool St Helens

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FOR the second week in succession the Vale found themselves pipped at the post, but unlike at Anselmians they were unable to garner a bonus point.

Everything built up to a dramatic finale in the closing 10 minutes of proper time with the Vale trailing 34-30 and behind for the first time in the second half.

In the 73rd minute the Vale were awarded a penalty within range of the posts and opted for a kick at goal, rather than go for the try.

Unfortunately Tom Carter’s effort thwacked against an upright. The ever-alert Danny Lin appeared to have snapped up the rebound but referee Snoddy had already awarded a five metre scrum for the home side.

The Vale patiently went through the phases, as they searched for an opening Lee Acton was held up short of the line but in the move a Liverpool St Helens defender had drifted offside.

Again Carter was instructed to go for goal, his successful kick brought the Vale to within one point with three minutes plus injury remaining.

With a bonus beneath their wings the Vale appeared to be salvaging something from the game but John Pape split the Vale’s defence with a searing break and it took a try saving tackle from Darren Wilson to prevent a try.

Vale’s euphoria was short lived because they lost control of the ball at the subsequent line-out and from the scrum the redoubtable Kearns powered his way over, the impressive centre Matty Cunliffe converted.

The Vale had opened the scoring with Carter kicking a penalty goal after an impressive forward drive.

Two minutes later Matty Cunliffe wrong-footed the Vale defence with a deceptive change of direction for an excellent solo try which he converted.

In the seventh minute Jimmy Moore sprinted down the touchline, pirouetted away from the whitewash before thumping the ball downfield.

The ball bounced into Moore’s grateful hands. and the stand-off accepted the gift gleefully and he touched down, Carter converting.

A fired-up Acton was shown a yellow card and in his absence Liverpool regained the lead in the 31st minute when wing forward Ally Sutherland touched down on the blind side and Cunliffe converted.

Back to full strength the Vale made all the running at the conclusion of the first half.

James Hodder bolted off with purpose, Acton surged for the line and the visitors had a player yellow carded.

From a five metre scrum Vale moved the ball wide, and James Curran was ideally placed to career round the dead ball area; Carter added the conversion in the 39th minute.

Curran’s pace proved to be crucial in the fourth minute of the second half when he flew after a kick ahead for his second try which Carter converted. Cunliffe and Carter exchanged successful penalties in the 47th and 53rd minutes respectively.

A try from Pape immediately followed Carter’s penalty with an unconverted try wide out. Unfortunately the number 15 blotted his copybook on the hour when he unceremoniously took Hodder out as he chased a kick ahead. Pape was shown a yellow card and the Vale were awarded a penalty where the ball landed. Carter added the extras.

In the 64th minute Liverpool came to within one point of the Vale when Kearns wrestled his way over for a try converted by Cunliffe.

As temperatures began to rise Moore was sent for a 10 minute spell in the cooler and winger Ian Stanley sprinted over after a blistering break from Matty Cunliffe, who added the conversion in the 69th minute and bestowed his side a four point lead.

For any neutrals present the closing minutes were absorbing but for those who had a specific interest in the outcome it was near purgatory, particularly for the Vale clan who had seen their team rattle in 63 points in their last two games and conceded 84 but had only collected one bonus point.

Vale of Lune: T Carter, J Hodder, A Macluskie, J Higgin, J Curran (L Richmond 70), J Moore, D Wilson, J Hesketh, A Powers, J Ashton-Yamnikar, L Acton, D Perry (capt), G Tudor, D Lin, S Garnett (J Clarkson 77).