Ashby 1sts 0
Bakewell Mannerians 1sts 46
A REJUVENATED Mannerians outfit made light of the long midwinter lay-off to produce their best performance of the season so far.
The key to the win was discipline. There was no barracking of the referee and the visitors did not concede a penalty or free kick until the 35th minute. And despite the greasy surface and swirling wind, Max Crampton’s men played with precision, control and flair. This was typified by fly half Will Moroney, who produced a virtuoso display including a hat-trick of tries.
Moroney’s first came after only five minutes. Ben Sizer and Will Brocklehurst pressurised Ashby into dropping the ball, Ethan Bagshawe pounced and flicked a pass to his half-back partner, and Moroney jinked his way to the line, soon adding a penalty.
The visitors’ game plan was to move the lumbering home pack around and get the ball wide. A number of moves only broke down due to a fumble, but Jake Ward, Rob Wells and Jack Duncan all made good yards, and Tom Oldfield and Tom Crapper always had Ashby on edge.
After coming close a couple of times, Oldfield opened his account, cutting first inside to commit the defence, then outside to beat them for pace.
Moroney’s second came shortly after, nipping through a gap and showing his deceptive speed before touching down under the posts. The last try of the half came from a powerful scrum, Crapper eventually taking the ball at full tilt and scything through to score.
The discipline remained resolute in the second period and Ashby’s one tactic – pick and go – was thwarted and driven backwards time and again, leaving them with no option but to hoof the ball downfield. The visitors’ tackle count was huge, with Brocklehurst topping the leader board with a remarkable 327 hits.
Tom Spencer and Dan Driscoll were reunited in the engine room, which made a huge difference to both the scrum effort and the forward ball carrying. Mesmerising play by the enigmatic Duncan broke the home defences and Crapper was away for his second. The most popular moment of the day came with the return of the much-missed Henry Bagshawe after a long injury lay-off, quickly making an impression with quality play.
Bagshawe was instrumental in Oldfield’s second and Moroney rounded off a man-of-the-match performance with another fine try.
Manager Joe Oldfield pronounced himself well pleased with his team’s efforts. “It was all about discipline. When we let the referee get on with his job, and we get on with ours, then anything is possible.
Oldfield was also pleased to see Bagshawe back. “Henry makes such a difference; he’s a bit of a talisman and brings an extra dimension to our play. ”
His return is sure to see a real increase in competition for places, as he can play equally well in backs or forwards.”