Vale of Lune were beaten 19-12 by top of the table Wilmslow at Powderhouse Lane on Saturday.
The curse of late changes from the selected squad again caused problems for Director of Rugby Jack Ferguson and coach Joel Unsworth with the shuffling of resources affecting the composition of Vale’s other sides, who both suffered heavy defeats.
Despite the difficulties the Vale made a promising, imaginative opening and for ten minutes Wilmslow found themselves trapped in their own half but the scalpel was never applied with sufficient dexterity to open up Wilmslow.
Vale still posed a threat as was highlighted in the 13th minute when winger Jordan Fern zoomed after a kick ahead and was only just beaten to the touch down. Wilmslow broke the deadlock in the 25th minute with a snappy, efficient attack that not only stretched the Vale but had them backpedalling at an uncomfortable rate of knots.
Scrum-half, Sean Street took full advantage of the confusion to scamper his merry way over for a try which stand-off Bob MacCallum converted.
Vale responded almost immediately – the pack went roaring forward, scattering the powder blue shirts to the four winds in a defiant, all consuming attack.
Eventually the ball was moved across to the right flank and once Fern, who was later named man of the match, had pouched it safely he was off the launch pad with both boosters fully open to hurtle round behind the posts for a sparkling try which was converted by stand-off Alex Briggs.
In the closing stages of the half skipper Andy Powers limped off, Briggs was shown a yellow for a deliberate knock on and while the Vale tried to sort the problems out Wilmslow edged into the lead with an unconverted try.
From a five metre line out the ball was smuggled clear to full back James Coulthurst who powerfully flailed his way over.
The second half started on a blue note for the Vale and after six minutes they had shipped more points.
Wilmslow built an attack that exploited Vale’s lack of numbers with at least two cherry and white clad players lying prone on the ground.
A splintered defence was unable to defend all the avenues which allowed MacCallum to drive a coach and horses through to the whitewash for his try which he converted.
In the 65th minute the Vale breathed hope into their aspirations with try straight out of the clanger box.
An innocent looking kick was boomed deep into Wilmslow’s half, two defenders converged on the ball but in the confusion Fern appeared on the scene to purloin the jewel and race away for an unconverted try.
For the remainder of the game both sides struggled to ease the tension that gradually built up but the Vale could never quite put together the penetrative attacks that could salvage the game.