Vale of Lune 12-17 Burnage
Burnage last visited Powderhouse Lane at the beginning of the 2017/18 season and on Saturday they made the trip again and came away with a 17-12 victory.
Almost before the spectators had left a bright festive clubhouse, Burnage lit up proceedings with a thrilling try from former Vale player James Hodder, who had made more than 150 appearances before moving to Burnage.
In a sweeping attack that exposed some unconvincing tackling from the Vale, full back Hodder revelled in the situation, his dancing feet took him round defenders for a first minute try converted by centre Rhys Evans.
Vale reduced Burnage’s lead four minutes later with an unconverted try from winger Jordan Fern which was the prelude to an almost nonstop bludgeoning of the visitor’s defence.
Wave after wave of Vale’s forward power was thrown at Burnage, they were shunted backwards, line outs were splintered, but their resistance could not be broken.
Overall it had been a strange half that had been played almost entirely on Burnage turf and it would have come as no real surprise if the Vale had not turned round with a healthy lead.
Burnage were quickly out of the blocks at the start of the second with the impish Hodder making a nuisance of himself with the Burnage backs starting to show their pace but their early promise petered out and in the 50th minute the Vale took the lead.
Billy Swarbrick took a quick tap penalty 20 metres out and although Burnage rushed back in defence they were unable to halt wing forward Jack Ayrton’s leg pumping drive for his try which stand-off Alex Briggs converted.
Five minutes later a Burnage attack ended with Evans kicking a penalty goal to put the outcome on a knife edge.
In the 63rd minute Burnage went further ahead when from a forward thrust space was created for replacement, Freddie Wilson to coolly purr over for a try converted by Evans.
Now the pressure was on the Vale to turn the game around and they tried with might and main to fashion a score but the tension began to creep into the bones.
They hammered at the door but Burnage’s hinges held firm and their performance went a long way to confirming why they held third place in North One West.