Vale of Lune 12 Bowdon 13: Visitors take narrow victory
A stilted performance saw Vale beaten by a Bowdon side who had yet to win a North One West game heading into the weekend.
Wedding bells and work commitments caused a massive reconfiguration of their pack from the previous week’s fixture at Broughton Park.
Some experienced players were absent but Bowdon are also struggling for players and are having to cut their cloth accordingly – as was evident in their line-up.
A number of second team forwards have been catapulted into the side and this was evident in Bowdon’s rolling replacement strategy.
It was a disappointing outcome for Vale, who never achieved prolonged dominance in any areas to pressure their opponents, while some of their tactics had supporters scratching their heads.
Kicks at goal were turned down, inaccurate punting, some attacking moves that were so predictable that Bowden knew what was coming, and a series of missed tackles all added up to a defeat that proved too much can be read into league positions and the formbook.
On a damp, grey afternoon Vale opened with a series of invigorating, sniping attacks.
The ball was moved swiftly, which had Bowdon backpedalling and in some discomfort at the tempo being set.
Scott Manning darted through with powerful runs and offloads were working well but Vale could not apply the right combination to unlock Bowdon’s defence.
The pack worked hard with Luke Kettlewell and Steve Tagg in the thick of the action and the foundations looked solid enough.
The Cheshire side, after riding the early blows, discovered their self-belief and began to make life uneasy for Vale.
Vale were penalised in the 12th minute and Callum Ramsey lashed over a penalty.
Vale’s promising opening evaporated as they started to look rattled and attacks petered out because the final pass was not precise enough.
Cool heads were required as the game became scrappy, which played into Bowdon’s hands.
Manning and Chris Ramwell combined for a break that ground to a halt through lack of support before Bowdon increased their lead.
An accurate kick from Ramsey found winger Matty Killcourse all alone and he easily pouched the ball to score the simplest of tries, which Ramsey converted.
Vale emerged from their shell and began to show more energy.
Sam Wallbank went deep into Bowdon’s 22 and, from the resultant penalty, Billy Swarbrick took a quick tap and Wallbank scored a much-needed try which Ramwell converted.
Bowdon appeared to benefit from the half-time break as they trapped Vale in their own half for the opening 18 minutes of the third quarter, albeit without any points being scored.
When Vale did probe, they made a few tactical errors in choosing to thump the ball into touch or opting for a scrum when a kick at goal would have levelled the score.
Ramwell produced a trysaving tackle in the 70th minute but Ramsey landed a penalty at the end of normal time.
A glance at the scoreboard confirmed a seven-pointer would win the game as Wallbank and Jack Ayrton tore into Bowdon’s defence.
A couple of penalties came Vale’s way, and from the second, Alex Briggs unleashed an accurate kick into the hands of Harry Finan, who skipped over for the try.
Briggs’ conversion, from a difficult angle, flashed across the front of the posts with the final whistle seeing Bowdon roar their delight.
Vale of Lune: Mount, Branford, O’Heihir, Kettlewell, Tagg, Nicholson, Ayrton, Wallbank, Swarbrick, Finan, Humpage, Turton, Manning, Cross, Ramwell. Replacements: Crookall, Forrest, Briggs.
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