Manchester 47, Vale of Lune 15: Disastrous spell in second half leaves Andy Power-less
The two clubs were crossing sword for the first time since the 2017/18 season when Vale of Lune completed the double over Manchester in their North One West Championship season.
In the intervening seasons, Vale have had a nightmare experience in North Premier while Manchester regained their status back in North One West after being promoted along with Glossop.
Vale’s league season has been dogged by being unable to field a settled side on a regular basis.
Their fixture at Grove Lane followed the same pattern, with eight who featured against Bowdon in their last outing at the beginning of October being unavailable.
However, there was a shaft of sunlight because skipper Andy Powers was making his 200th appearance. Powers made his debut in February 2010 at home against Lymm in a North One West fixture which ended in a 25-8 defeat.
He scored his first try in a home North One West victory, 52-8, against Leigh; his try total stands at 23 and in the 2012/13 season he ran in 11 tries.
Although the bulk of his appearances have been when wearing the No.2 jersey he has played in every position for the first team apart from stand off and full back!
Unfortunately it was not a day to remember for the captain because he saw his side collapse like a pack of cards during a gruesome six minutes in the second half when they conceded 21 points in the bat of an eye.
In the 15th minute, full back Chris Ramwell nudged Vale into a one-point lead with a penalty goal, his kick from wide out wobbled its way over the bar with all the finesse of a caterpillar that had been on a night out.
This score invigorated Vale who produced some passages of gutsy rugby but as the clocked ticked past the hour mark thing began to go horrible wrong for the visitors.
In the 61st minute, from a line out, lock forward Nick Elliot strode through a huge gap after snaffling the ball at the tail of the line.
Stand off Doug Day, who was in imperious form throughout, added the conversion. Two minutes later winger Josh Jones weaved his way over his try converted by Doug Day.
Straight from the kick-off a static Vale defence could only stand and stare as Manchester swept towards their line for Josh Jones to race clear, his try being converted by Doug Day.
A 35-15 scoreline on the board did not make comfortable reading for Vale’s travelling supporters who might well have been forgiven if they had taken their place in the appropriately named “Pacemaker’s Stand,” or even retired to a darken room to let their blood pressure return to normal and clear their mind of the mess they had just witnessed.
Of course there was no coming back, Vale had fallen over the cliff edge. The only hope they could cling on long enough to deny the inevitable, a heavy defeat.
They did manage to keep at bay a rampaging Manchester until the final five minutes when Harry Lewis touched down, Doug Day adding the extras followed by an unconverted try from Josh Jones.
The entrance to Grove Park is protected by a security gate and can only be opened with a digital code.
It’s a pity that Vale had no recognisable code to deal with the invaders when they stormed across their drawbridge midway through the second half for a spot of profitable points plundering.
Vale’s pack began strongly heaving Manchester back in the first coming together which earned a penalty but Alex Briggs’s meaty thump hit an upright but bounced clear.
Manchester were also willing to move the ball round and tested Vale’s defence before Vale instigated a break out which featured Harry Finan and Alex Briggs. Chris Ramwell completed the move with a flamboyant touch down, he also added the conversion in the 18th minute of some fluid rugby from both camps.
Manchester out-thought Vale with a quickly taken tap penalty in the 26th minute when Rick Cross shot over, his try being converted by Doug Day.
Three minutes later perky Ramwell touched down wide out on the right to complete the first half scoring, after a sturdy Vale scrum had established a solid platform.
The second half started badly for Vale who were swamped by an early Manchester attack that ended with Matt Burton being bundled over the line, Doug Day kicked the conversion in the 43rd minute.
Seven minutes later Ramwell kicked his penalty goal which was Vale’s last hurrah before the demolition squad set to work.
On Saturday Vale face fifth-placed Glossop for the first time in what is bound to be a test for the Powder House Lane outfit, because the Derbyshire club have made everyone sit up in their debut season in North One West only losing one of their six fixtures at Stockport, 22-8 and drawing their opening game at Altrincham Kersal, 27-27.
Vale of Lune: O Branford, A Powers (Capt), R O’Heirhir; S Tagg, M Mount; H Fellows, J Ayrton, S Wallbank. J Thomas, A Briggs; J Fern, H Finan, M Cross, A Bolton; C Ramwell. Reps: J Hesketh, E Hutchinson, D Griffiths.
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