Vale were beaten at Underlay Park on Saturday against North One West’s top club Kirkby Lonsdale in a tasty local derby.
As the game unfolded there was no disputing Kirkby Lonsdale’s 13th league victory of the season which saw them completing the first ever league double against the Vale.
Kirkby, brim full of confidence and playing like potential champions, granted the Vale little slack, the visitors being unable to recapture the sustained intensity shown against Kendal in their last outing.
The Vale did post three converted tries but they would like to forget a disastrous opening 22 minutes when they leaked 22 points, a situation that effectively put the outcome beyond their reach.
As was to be expected Kirkby began at a sprightly pace and after three minutes centre Tom Pickthall kicked a penalty goal.
Vale’s untidy opening was compounded when from a line inside their twenty two flanker Lwazi Ngcumgama caught the ball unopposed to stroll nonchantly over for an unconverted try in the ninth minute.
Vale flickered into life but a promising period of endeavour ended when Ben Dorrington was show a yellow card in the 14th minute.
When played resumed Kirkby struck immediately with a thrust down the right that ended with winger David Bird crossing for a try converted by Pickthall.
Kirkby increased their lead in the 22nd minute when the Vale defence got itself into an awful tangle, gaps appeared to allow full back Tom Slater the opportunity to glide over for a try again converted by Pickthall.
With ten minutes remaining, from a five metre line out Vale’s forwards locked up solid to drive Kirkby back towards their goal line. A controlled surge ended with Powers being awarded a try, converted by Charlie Lomas.
A long straight penalty from Pickthall followed this score just to remind the Vale that the hosts were not going to play Lady Bountiful even though they were ahead by a comfortable 15 points.
In the 46th minute Kirkby secured the try bonus point with an explosive threequarter movement that visibly rocked the Vale. Slick, accurate passing along the back division stretched the Vale, Slater made the perfect sortie into the line for his second try, converted by Pickthall.
Kirkby were poised for a possible 50 pointer but the Vale regrouped and with Tom Crookall setting a fine example with a series of purposeful runs, a measure of self belief began to flow through the ranks.
From a quickly taken line out Wallbank was hauled down short, Kirkby began to give away an increasing number of penalties as they were put under concerted pressure for the first time.
But they did show their pedigree when they launched and adventurous attack inspired by a lightning break from Dave Barton; only an over ambitious floated pass brought to an end what would have been a stunning score.
While Kirkby went through their repertoire of cross kicks, miss moves, close passing the Vale did not let their concentration levels drop and their resolution was rewarded in the 64th minute with a score.
Winger Jimmy Birchall slipped his leash on the right to leave defenders in his wake before off-loading to Dorrington for a try converted by Lomas from a difficult angle.
Again the league leaders responded in kind with a try two minutes later which caught the Vale by surprise.
There did not appear to much danger surrounding a passing move down the visitor’s left hand side but suddenly an overlap had been created for Barton to touch down for a popular unconverted try.
As the game was drawing to a close the Vale trapped Kirkby deep in their own half.
The occasional dropped pass did not help the Vale but they ended the game much better than they had begun it.
Al Crookall led a charge, Lomas talked Kirkby’s hooker into misdirecting his throw at a line out to give the Vale possession ahead of their final score in the 81st minute.
Dorrington powerfully dipped his way to the line in a move that was completed by Fergus Owens with the neatest of tries converted by Lomas.
*Vale seconds lost their opening Conference B fixture over at Chester, 24-14 after they had dragged themselves back into contention in the second half after trailing 19-7 at half time.
The thirds won comprehensively at home 54-0 against Burnley 2, but the fourths recent run of good form ended with a 22-13 defeat at Upper Eden.