Vale of Lune maintained their impressive try strike rate as they clocked up another seven to bring their total to 20 after three North One West games, and in doing so to move into top spot in the table ahead of Sale FC on points difference, as for the third time this season the Vale collected maximum points.
Anselmians proved hard to break down, particularly in the first half, and with the experienced Simon Mason at fly-half marshalling his troops the Vale did not have it all their own way and for long periods the home side made little headway against dogged opposition.
However, when the Vale cut loose they were impressive, none more so than full-back James Hodder, who claimed a hat-trick in addition to being a worthy recipient of the man of the match bubbly.
A penalty goal from Mason after four minutes hinted at a possible banana skin as the Vale struggled to escape the attentions of their fired up opponentst.
Another of Vale’s young players, winger Jordan Dorrington, was rocked back with a ferocious tackle which resulted in an ambulance being summoned, but after examination at hospital he was discharged.
His place was taken by James Curran, who was making his first appearance since December 2011.
Anselmians continued to harry and hurry the Vale and when Mason struck a penalty wide there was an audible gasp from the Vale supporters on the East Terrace, but in the 18th minute they were able to relax as the Vale went into the lead.
Alex Baines made the initial break with a deceptively strong run into Anselmians’ territory.
Sam Wallbank came up in support and with the back row nosing in on the act the ball was threaded through at close quarters before Wallbank was unleashed for one of his heat seeking runs for a try converted by Moore.
Vale’s vibrant passage of play hinted what might be unleashed but Anselmians successfully curbed their ambitions until the 28th minute.
Once again the Vale upped the tempo with a rousing passage of rugby.
Hodder kicked ahead, Curran and Andy Powers were up for the chase, and when the ball was moved rapidly cross field Hodder collected a pass round his ankles for an unconverted try.
With five minutes remaining, the Vale’s ability to suddenly explode forced Anselmians to retreat; Hodder came into the line, picked up another difficult pass and then produced an exquisite side step for try converted by Moore.
This was the score that threw all doubts of a slip up out of the window.
The opening of the second half was messy at times with a number of fractious incidents disrupting the flow before the Vale captured the bonus point, courtesy of a penalty try.
From a five metre scrum the Vale, following the sin-binning of James Hesketh, drafted in Powers to hook with Oli Cowey moving sideways take Hesketh’s place and the reconstituted Vale eight heaved Anselmians back at a steady rate.
There were Saints hands and bodies all over the place and referee Carpenter had no hesitation in racing between the post to signal a try, which Moore converted in the 57th minute.
Imperceptibly the Vale had established an impressive lead but there was nothing sotto voce about their next score.
Following a thundering 50 metre run by Hodde, the number 15 outpaced the cover on Anselmians’ exposed right flank for his hat-trick.
Moore converted to roars from the home supporters which coincided with those from the local derby game at Bare Cricket Club against rivals Westgate.
After a break in play while an injured Anselmians player was treated, the Vale added to their total with a try in the 73rd minute.
Wilson scuttled down the centre, Wallbank tracked the number nine’s run and when the ball was moved quickly wide Baines rounded off a productive contribution with a try converted by Moore.
Two minutes later the Vale’s three-quarters produced a polished sequence of passing to create space for Adam Macluskie to wrong foot the defenders before clinically curving his way over, Moore converting.
In an extended period of injury time Anselmians made a number of spirited raids close to the Vale’s line, but the defence was rock solid and disciplined as they repulsed repeated attacks.
Vale of Lune: J Hodder, J Dorrington (J Curran 12), J Higgin, A Powers, A Macluskie, J Moore, D Wilson (capt), J Hesketh, O Cowey, A Cowey (A Morrison 64), S Wallbank, L Acton, G Tudor, D Lin (A Garnett 58), A Baines.
Man of the match: J Hodder. Ball sponsor: Friends of the Vale.