Match Report by Clive Oldham
The cold easterly wind blasted across the Memorial Ground pitch at times, but entertaining rugby remained order of the day as both sides played out the last game of the League season. With both teams in slight danger of relegation a fully committed match ensued. Virtually the last phase of play gave Stockport the bonus point win, 26-24.
The home side got off to a good start, and after 8 minutes of Stockport pressure, Jordan Pearson side stepped the Penrith defender to score following a line out. Conversion by Southern, 7-0. More Stockport pressure followed, but the Cumbrian visitors defended well resulting in a Penrith penalty on half way. This allowed the away side to exert sustained pressure on the Stockport line, culminating with a converted try, 7-7. Penrith knocked on from the restart and after they were caught offside, Stockport kicked for the corner. Off the ensuing line out Stockport went through a few phases but ended up knocking on, allowing the visitors to clear up field. Halftime was approaching when Stockport prop Matt Lawrowitsch received a yellow card for coming in at the side of a ruck in Stockport’s 22. A Penrith line out followed and they scored from a good rolling maul. No conversion, 7-12. Half time was imminent, but there was time for one last play, so Stockport entered the Penrith 22, with Dan Brotherton popping up in the line to ease through a gap and score a good try, no conversion, 12-12 at halftime.
Stockport were always under pressure in the set scrums This was evident as Penrith moved down the pitch at the start of the second half. Some excellent Penrith handling at pace saw the visitors score after a missed defensive tackle. The try was converted, 12-19. More Penrith pressure followed and things were starting to look a little bleak for the home side. Just as the home supporters feared another Penrith try, the ball was turned over on the Stockport line allowing them to clear down the field. Following this relief, Stockport mounted an attack resulting in Penrith conceding a penalty for holding on in a ruck. A Stockport line out ensued, with a good forward rumble off this, from which Dan Brotherton broke away to feed Matt Lawrowitsch who was able to power over for a score, converted by Southern, 19-19. Penrith were far from finished and they exerted intense pressure on the home side’s line. The ball was eventually held up over the Stockport line following more resolute defending, but from the 5 meter scrum that followed, Penrith went through 4 phases to squeeze over for a try in the corner. No conversion, Stockport were looking down the barrel at 19-24. After a great restart, Stockport were turned over on the third phase of play. This led to a Penrith penalty which was duly kicked down field into touch. Time was running out; Stockport stole the line out and then there was a high tackle just inside the home side’s half. A kick for goal was decided upon, which missed, but at least Stockport had gained ground. The penultimate play of the game saw Stockport in the visitor’s 22 going through a few phases when Dudley Southern spotted a gap which he duly sprinted through to score under the posts. Southern converted his own try taking Stockport into the lead 26-24. There was the game as Penrith were only able to restart before the final whistle blew.
A little tough on Stockport’s visitors, but the Headlands Road outfit had suffered similar last-minute defeats earlier in the season, so they could empathise with Penrith.
This result meant that Stockport had won and lost in equal amounts, 13 of each and as a consequence ended up mid table taking 7th place.
We will look forward to next Season in North One West, with no doubt many similar exciting encounters to come.