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Friday, 19 December 2014

Winfield takes it all for Hawcoat Park

RUGBY UNION

Hawcoat Park 8 Garstang 5

HAWCOAT Park beat the weather and their Lancashire visitors as the only game of the weekend in North Lancs One took place in Barrow.

Nobby Clarke and Alan Artis were out forking the pitch early on in the day to ensure as much surface water as possible drained away.

Their hard work, as well as that of Eddie France and the other volunteers who toiled tirelessly to ensure the Hawcoat Park pitch was as good, if not better, than any other in the county, paid off in spades.

As in the reverse fixture, Garstang were certainly a big side right across the pitch, particularly up front.

Their big pack had the best of the early exchanges and, as usual, the Hawcoat Park defence had to be strong to keep them out.

Conditions were not easy and the Garstang team were very workmanlike, making progress very difficult.

After early Garstang domination, Hawcoat Park managed to slowly get a hold on the game.

Midway through the half, the home side took the lead.

Scrum half Sam Hilton made some prompting short drives to get the Maroon and Whites into the Garstang half, and all the forwards grafted hard to camp in the Garstang red zone.

Back row Danny White latched onto a loose ball, made a diagonal run and did very well to stretch a long arm over the line to touch down.

Fly-half Mike Winfield just missed the conversion from wide out for a 5-0 interval lead.

The second half was just as tight, an arm-wrestle with neither team really dominating the play. One criticism against the home side would be that they lost the ball too often when driving, but the defence right across the team was very strong, and they had to be to keep Garstang out.

When under pressure it is always good to have such experienced players as the second row pairing of Martin Kennedy and Steve Slater calling the shots.

With 15 minutes to go, Winfield calmly booted over a 30-metre penalty to stretch the home side’s lead to 8-0.

In the final minute, the Garstang centre deservedly touched down for a try right in the corner.

The space was created when Hawcoat Park’s two best tacklers on the day, Dave Gallagher and White clashed heads when making a strong pincer tackle from either side.

The Garstang centre latched on to the loose ball and made use of the space to touch down, making it 8-5 at the close.

This was certainly not a classic from a flowing rugby point of view, but they were two important points earned by a grafting, workmanlike performance from the whole Hawcoat Park side.

A tight scrap is just what Gallagher thrives on and he deservedly took the man-of-the-match award, with his all-action display, particularly with some timely hard tackles.

His efforts were closely followed by White and Hilton, neither of whom ever take a backward step.

It was good to see first team skipper Jason Priss coming through his 15-minute spell off the replacement bench after a knee injury.

The A-team game at home to Orrell had to be postponed due to a mixture of a frozen and waterlogged pitch.

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