Following a close bonus point defeat last week against table-topping, unbeaten Trafford Metrovic Tarleton knew that a win against Thornton Cleveleys was a must if they were to keep in the race with the top two teams in the league.
On a bitterly cold day both teams started at a frantic pace and both sides were throwing the ball around trying to create gaps in what, on the day, were two very good defensive teams.
It was from defence that Tarleton opened the scoring when a great break from his 22 saw Matt Forrest make good ground before kicking through and putting the full-back under pressure, the clearance kick from Thornton Cleveleys only found Will Fell who exploited the gaps created by Matt’s original run as Thornton tried to re-organise their defence.
He was also stopped but good rucking by Hugo Castle and fast hands across the back line involving Forrest and Aidan Miller saw the ball out on the right wing with Ben Walton. He stepped his opposite number and then put on the gas to outstrip the covering defender to score a well worked team try.
Thornton Cleveleys came straight back at Tarleton and their No.15 also had a good run and set up a try scoring opportunity but luckily for Tarleton the final pass didn’t go to hand and Tarleton were able to clear the danger.
The game had opened up even more and it was Thornton Cleveleys who were in the driving seat for the next 20 minutes and eventually the pressure told when their No. 11 was put in for a good try which was converted and the away side now led by 7 points to 5.
Tarleton responded well to this and for the rest of the first half they camped in the Thornton Cleveleys 22 and this pressure earned them a penalty for the tackler not rolling away and Miller stepped up to the mark and slotted the 3 points that gave Tarleton a slender 8-7 lead at half time.
Tarletons’ half time talk was about playing to their strengths and keeping the ball in hand and the tactics worked when from an impressive rolling maul Tarleton crossed the line and Tom Eckersley put the ball down for a good forwards try. The conversion was good and Tarleton now led 15-7.
The rest of the second half saw both teams trying to create chances but both defences were playing extremely well and were both stopping any attacks by either side.
The final score of the game was from another penalty, again for the Thornton Clevelys not rolling away from the tackle and Miller put this one over too to give Tarleton a hard earned 18-7 victory.
This keeps them in 3rd place in the league and the seconds also maintained their 3rd. place position with a good 38-5 away win to local rivals Ormskirk RUFC 2nds.
Tarleton have a week off next Saturday but they are playing their first ever Vets match against a Southport Vets side at Carr Lane at 2.15pm. Wrap up warm and come along and watch history in the making!