Kirkby Lonsdale 39-26 Vale of Lune

Kirkby Lonsdale got the better of the Vale of Lune on Saturday.
Kirkby Lonsdale got the better of the Vale of Lune on Saturday.

The league season drew to a close for both clubs at a festive Underley Park with the hosts’ victory cementing a home fixture against Sheffield on Saturday in a play-off for a place in National League Three North.

Defeat for the Vale of Lune, their heaviest inflicted on them by Kirkby Lonsdale in league fixtures, means that they ended their North One West season in eighth place, the same position as the previous season.

In front of large crowd in a day of wall-to-wall rugby, in-form Kirkby soon had their supporters purring as they confidently took the game to the Vale.

Despite having to scurry and scamper in defence the Vale kept their line intact and in the 12th minute had the temerity to score against the run of play.

Opening up play in their own half the ball was moved with precision and suddenly Alex Baines was racing clear and high stepping his way to a try converted by Oli Carter.

It took a while for the Kirkby players to clear their heads and their nerves were settled in the 17th minute when leading points scorer, Tom Pickthall, kicked a penalty.

This was the perfect tonic for the home side, they started to play with the assurance that has emerged during the season, and in the 24th minute their perseverance ended when from a well-worked move winger Harry Ralston went over wide out for an unconverted try.

A second try was added from stand off Dave Barton, who was in immaculate form throughout, after a break from scrum half Ben Walker, Pickthall added the conversion to complete the first half scoring in a 40 minutes that had flashed by with both sides fully prepared to move the ball in perfect conditions.

In fact it was the Vale’s willingness to give the ball air the led to Kirkby being presented with a gift try within the first minute. A sloppy, misdirected pass allowed winger Ralston to seize the ball and scorch away for an unconverted try.

Vale did not have too long to dwell on their “generosity” because in the 45th minute they collected a second try. James Birchall raced down his wing the ball was accurately transferred crossfield before Ben Dorrington swept over for an unconverted try.

Suddenly the Vale had Kirkby on the back foot and in the 54th minute they had the home side with within their sights when they cut their lead to three points.

Again a neat passage of passing saw space being created for Alex Baines, who crowned a fine game with a try, which was converted by Ben Dorrington.

Suddenly Kirkby’s impressive unbeaten home record was under threat but Barton took control and calmly dropped a goal. On the hour mark his side went further ahead thanks to another handout from the visitors when another awful, over ambitious pass was intercepted by Chad Spence, the bows and ribbons being attached with a Pickthall conversion.

It was fitting that Kirkby’s influential and live wire scrum half, Walker, should collect their final try when a lazy kick out of defence received it just desserts; the number nine’s try being converted by Pickthall in the 77th minute.

Vale collected a consolation score, plus a try bonus point, in injury time when Tom Crookall, who had another energetic game, blasted over from a tap penalty,

Ben Dorrington put over the conversion to conclude a game that was played with a sporting, competitive balance between two squads who had the upmost respect for each other.

Kirkby Lonsdale now prepare themselves for a defining moment in their long history, while the Vale of Lune pull the shutters down on a season that has created many debating points.

Kirkby Lonsdale: C Ramwell; C Spence, T Pickthall, J Akrigg, H Ralston; D Barton, B Walker; P Kwiczor, D Armitstead, T Groves; S Boyd, N Edney; D Cooper Dunn, S Storey, C Galbraith. Replacements: J Thorson, S Cairns, D Bird.

Vale of Lune: R Lamberton; J Birchall, I Bird, O Carter, T Crookall; F Owens, C Lomas; P McLaren-Dorrington, D Baines, R Pillow; B Charnley, A Baines; S Wallbank (Capt), A Powers, B Dorrington. Replacements: J Ayrton, A Garnett, A Richards.