Warrington 18-21 Vale of Lune

Andy Powers passes ball to the wing. Picture: Tony North
Andy Powers passes ball to the wing. Picture: Tony North

Vale of Lune had the satisfaction of registering their first league double since the 2017/18 season on Saturday as they trooped back to the changing rooms after beating Warrington 21-18.

Vale’s opening try came from some basics from the forwards as they drove towards the whitewash from a line out, not only dragging in their opposite numbers but sending them skidding backwards.

Vale heaved and grunted their way over the line and it was that man of all seasons, skipper Andy Powers, who collected the first try of a new decade, which stand-off Alex Briggs converted in the eighth minute.

Warrington might be experiencing a troubling season but they showed tremendous spirit throughout and their endeavours were rewarded with a penalty goal from No.10 Luke Gilooly in the 18th minute.

The game settled into pattern as both sides probed for openings but it was very much stop start and no specific momentum could be achieved.

A Warrington counter attack ran parallel with the nearby Bridgewater Canal and while a barge chugged its merry way along it, Warrington launched a swift counter attack that took Vale by surprise, and ended with winger Max Caldwell touching down wide on the right for an unconverted try to complete the scoring of what had been a windswept half.

Any cobwebs that Vale had experienced in the first 40 were blown away in the opening minutes of the second half when their vibrant opening resulted in another hardnosed, forward inspired try.

With little ceremony, Vale’s eight tortoised their way over the line to provide prop Ross Pillow with his fourth try of the season; Briggs smoothly threaded the ball through the swirling currents for the conversion in the 42nd minute.

Both sides did their level best to harness the conditions but tired limbs started to impinge on the flow of the game, fresh legs off the bench helped briefly to lift the tempo of a contest that was evenly poised and was made increasingly so when Luke Gilooly kicked a penalty goal from in front in the 55th minute.

Five minutes later,Vale edged further ahead with a converted try following one of their most dazzling passages of rugby and it was well worth the wait for their supporters.

Cockles were certainly warmed as the ball was moved swiftly from right to left, accurate passes were taken at a steady lick and when a gap appeared in Warrington’s defence, full back Michael Forrest plunged headlong through it for his try which Briggs converted with an almighty hoof that sent the ball flapping over the crossbar.

Warrington bounced straight back and within two minutes threw the game wide open.

From a scrum, Warrington caught Vale flat footed, a static defence were slow to react as Max Caldwell raced clear for his brace which Gilooly converted from in front.

As the game moved into the closing 10 minutes the knots of tension began to tighten and in the 75th minute it appeared that Warrington were about to claim their third win of the season when the flying Max took off to race clear.

A try looked a mere formality but he had not reckoned with Vale’s replacement winger Ryan Busby who in a recent second team game had sprinted over for a quartet of tries.

‘Von Ryan’s Express’ overhauled the ball carrier, the reinforcements arrived to clear the danger as the cherry and whites breathed a huge sigh of relief.

There was still enough time remaining for passions to reach boiling point and Vale’s Tom Cvijanovic was shown red along with his opposite number.