Mannerians leave it late

Bakewell Mannerians 1sts 34

Lutterworth 32

A dramatic fightback after Mannerians were behind with seconds left on the clock saw Henry Bagshawe’s new-look outfit claim a place in the second round of the national Intermediate Cup competition.

The Leicestershire side’s enormous pack dominated the early scrums through sheer weight, but away from the setpiece it was Mannerians who were playing the better rugby.

This was a much-changed Mannerians team, despite which they moved the ball with a vision and flair that Lutterworth could not resist. It wasn’t long before Chris Westwood launched his backline, with fly half Ed Hutchinson creating space for Tom Crapper to score.

Crapper’s second came shortly after, the culmination of a breathtaking move featuring strong running from Alastair Gregory and new recruit Rob Holland. Lutterworth struck back with a penalty, but then had a flanker sin-binned.

The weight readjustment meant Mannerians were back on level terms in the pack, giving the backs a platform to show their skills.

Tom Bell dealt with a difficult kick deep in his own half with aplomb, hacking the ball down the field. As he sped into the visiting ’22, he found the impressive Peter Fearn at his shoulder and put the hooker away for a fine try.

Mannerians’ lead was extended when James Turner powered his way forward, second row Nick Morgan executed dummy after dummy and the ubiquitous Ben Sizer was in support time and again, before Hutchinson darted over for the score which Alasdair Crawford converted.

Then, with the mighty Ben Furness sinbinned, the home pack was outweighed, and Lutterworth trundled up the pitch scoring route-one tries.

By the time Furness returned just after half-time, Lutterworth were very much back in the game. With the home side trying to regroup, the visitors edged into a narrow lead and it would have been easy for Bagshawe’s men, after a terrific 60 minutes, to capitulate.

But Bagshawe’s side has a real resolve and gradually worked a way back into a scoring position after a long period of sustained defence featuring huge tackling by debutant Charlie Village, Edward Boam, Turner and Furness in particular.

Strong running from the forwards led to a ruck in the Lutterworth ’22, and Martin Pearce made a pitch for the scrum half position, firing a rapier-like pass to Hutchinson, who found Holland and put the skipper in for a try to bring the scores level on the 80-minute mark.

Crawford stepped forward, and his conversion sailed between the posts. to seal a last-gasp victory in a pulsating contest.

Bagshawe was delighted with his team’s overall performance. “It showed real steel and commitment and demonstrated the strength in depth that we’re building at the club,” the captain enthused.

“To come from behind and win against a side as strong and well-drilled as Lutterworth was a splendid achievement and bodes well for our eagerly-awaited local derby against Ashbourne, which is always a tough fixture.”

Manager Joe Oldfield was equally effusive. “That was one hell of a game, and I’m really pleased with the way that the second team regulars - Charlie, Ed and Jimmy especially - stepped in and performed so well at this level. It makes for some interesting selection quandaries.”