Vale of Lune 58-17 Burnage
Current Lancashire Trophy holders, Burnage, found little joy or comfort on Saturday in an action packed day at the Vale of Lune, where the hosts plundered nine tries with man of the match Damon Hall collecting a hat trick.
The crowds were out in force for the opening North One West fixture of the season, colour abounded both inside and outside the clubhouse, after all it was Ladies Day.
Within a minute of referee Phil Bygrave’s whistle the Vale had points on the board.
An innocent looking move down the left suddenly exploded as Sam Wallbank hightailed through a huge gap, his try being converted by Hall.
Four minutes later, Ben Dorrington bolted after a bobbling ball that eluded Burnage’s defence for an unconverted try.
A fired up Vale echoed the precision of the pre-match sky divers and added to their total in the 12th minute when Hall whirled his way over for an unconverted try.
Dorrington kicked a penalty goal as Vale tightened their vice like grip on the game but their bonus point try followed a rare excursion by Burnage into their territory.
A speculative cross field failed to find the intended Burnage recipient, the ball was neatly pouched by Hall who sprinted 90 metres for his try which he also converted in the 24th minute.
With the large crowd still buzzing, Jordan Dorrinton added to their euphoria two minutes later with his first league try for the Vale since January 2013, when he streaked down the left flank for a graceful unconverted try.
Shortly after the half hour mark the Vale found themselves pinned back deep in their 22.
Burnage’s forwards were a rumbustious unit and when they were within sight of Vale’s goal line they cranked up the volume and were rewarded with a penalty try in the 36th minute; a seven pointer following a law change which has made a conversion redundant.
Following their brief lapse the Vale came roaring back, moving the ball accurately space was created for debutant flanker, Evan Stewart, to romp down the middle for a try between the posts, converted by Hall on the stroke of half time.
Vale’s pre season might not have gone according to plan but there had been no signs in the first 40 that they were lacking in fitness or tactical awareness in the opening minutes of the second half.
Hall graphically illustrated how the wide open spaces should be used when he drilled the ball towards the clubhouse and won the race for an unconverted try in the 42nd minute; all over in a flash but carried out with consummate ease.
The half century was brought up two minutes later with a sublime try that showcased the technicalities of ball handling at high speed.
Stewart made the initial break, Jonty Higgin powered his way through tackles before releasing the lurking Fergus Owens, who set off on one his noble, sculptured runs for a try converted by Hall.
Changes were made in Vale’s line up and some of the fizz went out of their game and they were forced on the defensive.
Burnage sensed the drop in temperature and began to probe via their forwards.
A try was collected in the 70th minute when left wing, Oliver Llewellyn-Smith nipped away for an unconverted try.
Vale, after their breather, rattled in their final try in the 78th minute when Olly Jacques intercepted a pass to gallop 50 metres for a try which Hall converted.
In injury time Burnage bagged a consolation try that did little to dampen the celebrations that were already well underway in front of the clubhouse on what had been quite memorable curtain raiser for a new season.