Wilmslow 12-17 Vale
Vale of Lune produced a right royal performance at Kings Road against title chasing Wilmslow to extend their winning sequence to four games in addition to defeating the Cheshire side on home soil for the first time since September 2012.
At the conclusion of an edge of the seats contest between two well matched sides the Vale were loudly applauded from the field by their hardy band of travelling supporters who had witnessed the most cogent performance of the season.
Vale began with a positive attack involving Tom Crookall and Ben Dorrington but the they were sent skimming back deep into their own half when an attack down their left flank heralded a period of Wilmslow pressure.
The Wolves pounced in the sixth minute with try from winger Sam Cutts, converted by stand off Nick Barker.
Vale cut the deficit in the 11th minute with a well constructed try. Swift, accurate passing across the line created space for Michael Forrest to cut loose; he accelerated past defenders, his well balanced, strong running, had five points written all over it as he surged over the line.
Five minutes later the Vale went into the lead with another try that was the product of absolute control of the ball, but this time it was the forwards’ turn to show how to cosset the ball at close quarters.
From a five metre line out the ball was clamped, the forwards smoothly powered to the target for skipper Dan Baines to claim the try converted by Dorrington.
As was to be expected Wilmslow came roaring back, after all they were the leagues leading points scorer, and the faithful were expecting a response.
What they did not quite envisage was the stern resistance offered by the Vale and the frustration at the home side’s inability to break through was reflected in some of the comments wafting up and down the terrace.
However, the Vale’s inner steel allowed them to not only mop up the Wilmslow attacks but to instigate a number of probing runs of their own to underline the threat they posed in what had been an entertaining half by two sides who sing from the same hymn sheet.
Wilmslow had their fans humming and whistling with a try in the 47th minute.
For the only real time in the game the Vale fell off tackles as Wilmslow’s powerful centre Hone Karaka, bounced and battered his way for an unconverted try to level the scores.
This was a momentary lapse for the Vale because they quickly retuned to their original waveband and although a number of changes were made due to injury they quickly regained their shape.
As the final quarter beckoned the outcome hung in the balance, Wilmslow tried to create an opening but as the pressure built, errors started to mount and such was the line speed of the Vale much of their play became lateral.
In the meantime the Vale moved the ball with increasing authority as the clock ticked down.
Just when a draw seemed a most likely outcome the Vale struck in the 73rd minute.
Dorrington, who is becoming something of an expert in spotting when an interception might be possibility, was on cue, he had tried earlier in the half but had been thwarted, he nicked the ball to race 50 metres for an unconverted try. There was still time for the Vale kick over the traces as forwards and backs sensed victory, Forrest danced his way through tackles before being hauled down.
Wilmslow had one last throw of the dice but the Vale were not to be denied and their roar at the final whistle drowned out the sound of aircraft taking off from Manchester Airport.
In the end it was an honourable and deserved victory which was celebrated in style on the main drag in Didsbury.