Stanley Win in Shield Prelimenary Round
Runcorn 18 Blackpool Stanley 20
Blackpool Stanley travelled to Runcorn on Saturday for their first run out of the season in the NW Mens Shield Competition. Playing opposition in a division above them and embarking on their first full season for a number of years the away side where not expected to take a result from the game.
In blustery conditions the home team started the stronger with greater possession and fewer mistakes. Stanley defended with much enthusiasm and commitment throughout the game and the plan of the home side too muscle their way through the middle of the Stanley defence was clearly not going to work. With plan A not working and seemingly no plan B available for Runcorn Stanley started to find their feet, adjust to the conditions and play with fewer mistakes. However, with almost 20 minutes gone the Runcorn team did manage to fashion a couple of try’s against the run of play to take a 10-0 lead.
Stanley were not going to lie down and within a few minutes of Runcorn scoring Tommy Hibbert went over from close range to score near the posts which Mike Ingham converted, 10 – 6, and with half time approaching Jordan Fairlie went over to tie up the scores at 10 – 10. With very little time left in the half and most of the spectators assuming 40 minutes would be half time the referee saw fit to play an additional 7 minutes of injury time during which Runcorn scored to take a 14 – 10 half time lead.
The second half started much the way of the first with the Runcorn side re-energised following the break and taking a 18 – 10 lead early in the half. Although having much of the possession and territory the home side couldn’t find a way through the relentless Stanley defence. With time running away and the home sides larger forwards tiring the fitter and faster Stanley side started to take advantage of gaps in the Runcorn defence. A break by James Torkington deep in his own half saw him take on most of the Runcorn defence before passing to a hard working Fairlie close to the Runcorn line which he crossed to make the score 18 – 16, Kurt Gledhill converting.
Stanley used the remaining minutes to ensure all the squad players got games but kept the core of the side on the field to go for the win. Blackpool played for the full 80 minutes and at no point, despite being behind on the scoreboard for much of the game, did they give up the fight. They were rewarded late on when tenacious hooker and coach Tommy Hibbert broke from the half way line after a fast play the ball and, much to the surprise of the watching spectators, out paced the covering winger and full back to score close to the corner. Stanley had taken a 20 – 18 lead which wasn’t about to be given away.
A well deserved hard fought win, a good start to a long season, plenty to work on in training and encouraging signs for the future.
Training Monday at Unity 7pm, Wednesday Sports Centre 7:30pm.
Next Game Home to Aspull NW Mens League, Kingscote Park K.O. 2:30pm. Saturday 4th March 2017