Focused on Rugby in West Lancashire: Ormskirk v Tarleton

Rob Williamson on the charge*
Rob Williamson on the charge*
©Jeff Gordon

After their narrow away victory at North Manchester last week the Firsts were keen to maintain a 100% win record in this home derby fixture against local rivals Ormskirk.

The squad was slightly changed due to unavailability and injuries but still looked to be a strong one albeit a young one.

From the start Ormskirk, playing with the wind, put Tarleton under pressure and they were struggling to clear their line, a needless penalty was given when offside at the ruck and Kirk took a 3 point lead. Tarleton replied almost immediately and it was there turn to apply pressure on the Kirk defence, a clearance kick only found a charging Will Fell who made good yards before shaping a kick into the corner of Ormskirks’ 22. At the ruck Ormskirk illegally stopped any chance of quick ball and from a quickly taken penalty Dan Cromack crashed over. Aidan Miller added the conversion and Tarleton were ahead 7-3.

Ormskirk came back at Tarleton and again following some good pressure Tarleton gifted them another 3 points by giving away a penalty in front of the posts. With 20 minutes gone the score was 7-6.

Tarleton then seemed to up their game and started playing good rugby by keeping the ball in hand and giving the ball carrier options that made defence difficult for Kirk. A move involving several phases and at least 8 passes along the back line saw the ball end up with Will Fell who crashed over the line with the final Kirk defender to score a good try and take the score to 12-6.

Tarleton were pressing Ormskirk back now and from a penalty they kicked for the corner and a catch and drive from the line-out saw the ball released to the on-rushing Nick Garden who went over to score, Aiden Miller converted and Tarleton led 19-6.

Ormskirk rallied and from the re-start they pressurised the Tarleton defence and won a penalty, this unfortunately hit the outside of the upright and the scores stayed the same. This didn’t deter Kirk though and they came back again and a good kick in to the corner from yet another penalty saw them with a good attacking platform from the line-out. They won the line-out and started a rolling maul which Tarleton were deemed to have stopped illegally and while Tarletons’ sin binned player was trudging off Kirk took the penalty quickly and the scrum half went over to score, the conversion was good and Ormskirk were back in the game at 19-13.

With 8 minutes left to half time Tarleton took hold of the game and scored two tries in quick succession both by Tom Eckersley that knocked the stuffing out of the Ormskirk 15. The half time score was 33-13 and Kirk knew that Tarleton would have the advantage of the wind in the second half and some heads went down.

From the re-start the pressure all came from Tarleton and this time it was Kirk who stopped a rolling maul illegally and the quickly taken penalty saw Tom Eckersley over the whitewash for his hat-trick, Aiden converted and at 40-13 it was effectively game over.

Tarleton were attacking from everywhere and a good line-out saw Tom Eckersley break the gain line and slip a pass to Matt Forrest who went over.

From the re-start Tarleton ran the ball back at Kirk and managed to pass the ball out of every tackle resulting in a second try for Dan Cromack and from this re-start another rampaging move down the left wing saw Jamie Bantlemen over in the corner for Tarletons’ 9th try of the afternoon.

Ormskirk came back with a good attack but the little chip kick over the top was blown back over the kickers head and gathered by the on-rushing Tarleton backs and Alex Rigby ran in another good try.

Nick Garden then almost had his second try but good defence from Kirk saw the ball held up. However, from the 5mtr scrum Mike Jones crashed over to score and the score had raced to 71-13.

Tarleton had another attacking line-out in the Kirk 22 and although a bit messy the ball was eventually won and passed along the line to Tom Wignall who went over in the corner.

Kirk attacked again but despite the pressure couldn’t find a way through a well organised Tarleton defence and the ball was cleared up field by Hugo Castle.

Tarletons’ final try came from another good break from a defensive position by Johnny Mahon who almost made the line before offloading to Will Fell who flipped the ball out of the tackle to Tom Wignall who went over for his second try.

This was a comprehensive victory for Tarleton and showcased some great rugby, this puts them in 2nd place behind Burnley on points difference. Next week sees them travelling to Ashton Under Lyne where they hope to continue in this fine vein of form.