On a day of fluctuating weather conditions, it was down to earth at Ramsgreave Drive, as Vale of Lune picked up a deserved victory at Blackburn, although they had to show dogged determination for long periods.
Prop Ross Pillow was named Vale’s man of the match after yet another whole hearted performance from an unsung hero who sets a high standard week in, week out.
Currently, the Vale are brim full of confidence, and this was shown early on in the game when a forward surge forced Blackburn to retreat. In the sixth minute Damon Hall kicked a penalty goal.
The opening quarter saw both sides searching in vain for any clear-cut opportunities. Vale’s backs looked dangerous but a tad predictable, Sam Wallbank went on a number of his rampaging runs but generally the defences were on top.
Slowly the game began to open up and in the 26th minute the Vale added to their lead – from a line out 10 metres out Vale’s forwards clamped the ball and drove unmercifully for the line.
A try was awarded and when the bodies were untangled lock Dan Rainford had snaffled the try which Hall converted.
With four minutes of the half remaining Blackburn collected their first points when full back Leon Fifield kicked a penalty goal and on the stroke of half-time the full back punished the Vale.
Vale failed to deal positively with a bouncing ball in their own half and as they dithered Fifield gave the ball an extra toe-poke to win the race, he also converted his own try.
After a blustery, rain spattered first half the sun shone brightly during the opening exchanges of the second period which saw the Vale very much on the offensive and playing up the slope. Blackburn quickly became subjected to some intense forward pressure and having to defend their line in the face of a rolling Vale tide.
Eventually, the pounding took its toll and referee Sheard awarded the Vale a penalty try as his patience ran out in the 56th minute and a rainbow arced its way over the moors.
From this point Vale’s control increased, Blackburn did make the occasional foray into Vale territory but it predominantly one-way traffic.
Eventually the Vale’s perseverance produced a score in the 70th minute and it was no surprise that it belonged to a forward. The hard working Jack Ayrton foraged his way over, Hall added the extras.
Hall secured the try bonus point with a scything run in the 78th minute and put over the conversion to cement Vale’s position at the head of the table.
Of course, holding such a lofty position means that the opposition will be determined to try and tilt the windmill, beginning with Manchester on Saturday at Powderhouse Lane, the last league fixture against Manchester was in February 2013 when the Vale won 38-7 at Grove Park.