A crack of dawn inspection confirmed that the pitch was just about playable as an upbeat Vale A were able to frolic their way to an important Conference B victory against Chester on Saturday.
In the Year of the Horse the Vale were into their stride as soon as the starting stalls swung open when Jamie Antcliffe went careering round behind the posts at full tilt after James Moorby had galloped down the right flank; stand off Neil Walker converted in the second minute.
One minute later Jake Harrison cut loose with a balanced powerful run for an unconverted try.
Vale’s next two tries came courtesy of their forwards.
In the 21st minute flanker Mike Barker touched down after a well coordinated drive, Walker added the conversion.
With as drummer in the clubhouse rehearsing for a performance in the evening, big Dan Rainford, in perfect time, clomped over for his try which Walker converted from wide out in the 26th minute.
The half ended as it had begun with Antcliffe collecting his second try wide out in the 35th minute which was not converted, before all the players scooted for sanctuary of the changing rooms.
Certainly the Vale could feel pleased with their first half performance but they struggled to get their feet back in the stirrups during the third quarter as Chester pinned them back, but the Vale’s defence held firm.
Gradually the Chester challenge faded and with prop Alex Cowey, a popular man of the match, creating mayhem with some powerful, purposeful high stepping runs, the home side increased their score in the 68th minute with a penalty try converted by Walker.
A smiling Rainford crashed over from close range for an unconverted try in the 77th minute in a game where the players, to their credit, made light of the wind and rain as did referee, Mike Hayward whose handling of the contest was first class.
Vale A: R Lamerton; J Moorby, J Harrison, J Antcliffe, J Birchall; N Walker, O Dobson; M Field, O Cowey (Capt), A Cowey; D Rainford, R Needham; S Quick, M Barker, J Hesketh. Replacements: D Starkie, P McNeil, S Wilson.
Man of the Match: Alex Cowey.
*For the Vikings and B team their involvement in the LBS Cup competition ended as the Vikings lost at home to Preston Grasshoppers 4ths, 54-0, in the Bowl, with the B team also going out at home against Chorley 2nds, 19-12 in the Plate.
*Vale return to North West One action on Saturday with a home fixture against Wilmslow, kick off 2.15 pm.