Vale of Lune 26 Penrith 39: Inconsistent Vale have problems to solve
Vale of Lune faced Cumbrian opposition for the second week in a row, having licked their wounds after a below-par performance against Kendal seven days earlier.
Both sides had won one of their opening fixtures, coincidentally against the same adversaries in Douglas, and both at home.
Vale scraped to a 24-20 victory with a late, late try, while Penrith’s win, 48-7, was far more easy on the nerves for their supporters.
All eyes were on Vale to see if any lasting damage had been done following their mauling at Kendal.
Any hopes Vale might have entertained about bouncing back from defeat the previous week were dashed as their opponents took the spoils, leaving the hosts the consolation of a try bonus point.
While they did show some defiance, there was still a cloud of indecision hovering over them as they were unable to keep Penrith at arm’s length when enjoying a period of stability.
Vale were rocked in the second minute when winger Matthew Boutsted scooted over in the corner for an unconverted try after a series of missed tackles helped him on his way.
It only took Vale two minutes to recover as, following a break by Jack Turton, Penrith were deemed to have blocked Vale’s progress to the line and were punished with a penalty try.
Suddenly the visitors looked slightly uneasy as Vale, boosted by the score, picked up the pace.
Nevertheless, Vale fell behind to a 14th minute penalty goal from stand-off Mike Fearon after some lackadaisical covering in the build-up.
The game was played at a quick tempo by both sides as Vale regained the lead in the 25th minute with a well-worked try that was pleasing on the eye.
Chris Ramwell’s run started it all off before Sam Wallbank and Olly Jacques linked up for Max Cross to eventually dart over, Ramwell converting.
Penrith came back strongly and began to expose weaknesses in Vale’s defence.
In the 33rd minute, a 10-metre lineout saw Ed Swale nip through a wide gap on the blind side, Fearon adding the conversion.
It was all one-way traffic as Vale struggled to plug the gaps and, in the final move of the half, JJ Key scored the simplest of tries which Fearon converted.
Vale’s horror show continued in the space of 10 minutes in the second half, when Penrith exposed some weak tackling to score two tries.
Dan Richardson ambled over in the 43rd minute, followed by a second from Key with Fearon converting both.
Vale faced an uphill task as they appeared bereft of ideas against a side who had them securely in their back pocket.
Penrith were in control and saw Fearon kick a long-range penalty in the 68th minute.
This score roused Vale into action as, three minutes later, the forwards mauled their way with conviction from a lineout.
That provided the necessary momentum for James Robinson to battle his way over for an unconverted try.
Wallbank then ensured the try bonus point was secure when he went under the posts on 76 minutes, Ramwell converting.
A late, high-stepping run from Jordan Fern brought down the curtain on another uneven performance from Vale who, in their opening three games, have yet to find any lasting consistency.
Vale of Lune: Bowley, Powers, O’Heirhir, Robinson, Fellows, Cross, Ayrton, Wallbank, Thomas, Turton, Humpage, Manning, Jacques, Fern, Ramwell. Replacements: Mount, Kettlewell, Briggs.
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