Vale 37-10 Wirral

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FREE-WHEELING Vale of Lune enhanced their status as North One West’s leading try scorers with another six pack in a game that left their supporters wondering if they had slipped into neutral in the second half after scoring a quality try within the first minute of the second 40.

Tom Carter’s try gave the Vale a 32-3 lead but Vale did appear to lift their foot off the pedal.

Wirral beefed up their pack, plus any errors were quickly penalised which in turn affected the flow of the game and did not help the Vale’s cause.

The contest became further fragmented when in the space of six minutes first prop James Hesketh and then hooker Phil Berry were sin-binned and in their absence the visitors posted an unconverted try.

The net result as far as the Vale are concerned is that they banked maximum points, remain in fifth pace in the league table and are on the cusp of a play-off slot as the season enters a crucial three months.

With only eight games remaining for the majority of the clubs the stakes could begin to rise for those at the top and bottom plus some in the squeezed middle.

Again the Vale rang the changes in the back division. These alterations did not appear to have any effect on the Vale as they tore into Wirral straight from the kick-off with some powerful forward thrusts.

The Vale took the first scrum against the head as they whirled their opposite numbers around.

Certainly the forwards were fired up and single minded, and were enjoying their day in the sun from one to eight.

James Hesketh and Alex Cowey piled in to support a charge from Andy Powers, who appears equally at home with the dancers and prancers or mixing it with the big boys in their part of the playground.

After nine minutes of rattling Wirral’s barricades the forwards breached the ramparts. From a five-metre lineout a united pack drove to a steady metronomic one, two, three beat, to roll their opponents back under the baton of scrum half and man of the match Darren Wilson.

But the little maestro did not plunder a score; the coup de grace was administered by hooker Phil Berry who touched down beneath a blanket of Vale players in their change strip.

Tom Carter converted from a difficult angle but the full back had a rare off day with his goal kicking, a fluid top surface did not help his non-kicking foot on a few occasions.

An 11th minute penalty goal from Craig Harvey for Wirral gave the Vale something briefly to ponder but within two minutes they had extended their lead with a piece of individual brilliance from James Hodder and typical of the exceptional form he has shown this season.

The winger kicked ahead, perfectly caught the ball and sprinted away for a special score.

In the 24th minute of a rewarding half for the forwards, Gareth Tudor touched down after fellow back rower Ben Charnley had swept up the ball and drove forward in one balletic movement.

Ten minutes later the try bonus point was packed away in the vault.

Adam Macluskie, in his 50th appearance, thundered in off his wing, the forwards set the ball prior to Jimmy Moore weaving his way between the posts, Carter converted and in the final minutes of a productive Vale half he also kicked a penalty goal.

In the first minute of the second half the Vale racked up another thrilling score. Danny Lin, who had an immense game, claimed the ball in what appeared to be a lost cause to everyone but this hard working wing forward, prior to passing to Moore.

The stand off set off on one of his twinkling runs through the heart of a retreating defence before unselfishly passing to Carter who romped over for his try.

After such a calamitous opening, Wirral dug deep and began to upset the home side’s rhythm and composure.

Minor skirmishes began to break out and referee Rodgerson despatched James Hesketh for a spell on the naughty boy’s chair in the 54th minute.

Six minutes later another ear splitting toot signalled the departure of Berry as two thirds of the front row compared notes on the touchline.

All this upheaval had Powers shuttling in and out of the front row but things eased down a little following Berry’s yellow card because the scrums became uncontested.

Nevertheless, Wirral took full advantage and following a passage of full steam ahead, Daniel Harvey scored and converted a try in the 65th minute.

Back to full strength the Vale, perhaps mindful of what happened against Anselmians at the beginning of January when they allowed their opponents to snatch a losing try bonus point, scored their final try in the 69th minute.

From a solid scrum five metres out Wilson broke blind to flick a perfect pass for replacement Tom Ball to hotfoot over for an uncomplicated try as the Vale recorded their second double of the season.

Vale of Lune: T Carter, J Hodder, J Higgin, A Powers, A Macluskie (T Ball 61), J Moore, D Wilson (capt), J Hesketh, P Berry, A Cowey, L Acton, S Wallbank, G Tudor (A Baines 50), D Lin, B Charnley.

Match Sponsor: Vale of Lune Under 16’s

Match Ball Sponsor: R G Parkins & Partners Ltd.

Man of the Match: Darren Wilson