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Rugby Union: Wirral 26-19 Kirkby Lonsdale
DESPITE two tries from Dave Barton, Wirral maintained their position at the top of League North One West with a narrow victory over Kirkby Lonsdale.
Chris Speed, Paul Lewis, Chris Burrows and Colin Dyer all touched down for the home side as Kirkby’s stand-in winger Lewis Horner joined Barton on the scoresheet.
Martyn Kanpton picked up a training ground injury prior to the game with Horner lining up on the right flank as David Cooper-Dunn returned to the fold at number six.
With one defeat to their name, Wirral have been in prime form this season and only Vale of Lune have succeeded in leaving the Memorial Ground undefeated.
However, Kirkby seized the initiative in the early stages with Barton following up his own chip over the defence to touch down under the posts, as Tom Pickthall successfully converted.
The away side were enjoying territorial advantage until Wirral showed their strength to draw level after 16 minutes as Phil Donaldson played in Speed to score in the corner, with Sam Broadbent converting superbly.
Kirkby missed a penalty chance before last week’s man of the match Ryan Terry damaged knee ligaments, with club physio John Capstick pressed into wing action – highlighting Kirkby’s shortage of backs.
Combining measured possession with dogged defence, Kirkby had another opportunity to regain the lead as a further penalty went begging, with the scores remaining level at the break.
Early in the second period, Wirral’s defence held firm to drive Barton into touch when a try looked on the cards after a strong run and pass from Ben Walker.
Moments later, the scrum-half received a straight yellow card for killing the ball after a swift counter-attack by the hosts, as Wirral looked to make the most of their extra man.
With a man advantage, the hosts struck again but not before influential skipper Matt Hughes had to leave the field with a head injury after an alleged stamp in the ruck.
And shortly before the hour mark Wirral had the lead, strong play by the forwards finished with Lewis crashing over the line to score his first try for the club.
Kirkby number eight Craig Galbraith also received a yellow card, penalised for entering at the side of a ruck, with Kirkby playing several minutes with only 13 men.
With 68 minutes on the clock, Wirral scored their third try of the afternoon as Broadbent – who added the subsequent two points – set-up Burrows who cut inside to score under the posts.
A number of penalties returned Kirkby to the Wirral twenty two, with Barton reducing the arrears with another fine solo effort, as Pickthall converted to take the score to 19-14.
With time running out and the Underley Park side searching for a match-winning score, Jack Akrigg limped off with an ankle injury, with Kirkby lacking the resources to fill the void.
Wirral pressure told late on as Dyer crossed the line for the bonus point try as Broadbent converted to effectively seal victory.
Nevertheless, Kirkby rallied in the final stages with senior colt Horner scoring in the corner, as Wirral number eight Joe Adnams received a late yellow card.
With three 17-year-old’s – Terry, Horner and Callum Sheldon – taking part in proceedings, there are clear positives in defeat, although the loss sees Kirkby slip to tenth in the league standings
Kirkby Lonsdale: Tim Groves, Dan Armistead, Jonas Thorsen, Jonny Mason, Matt Hughes (c), David Cooper-Dunn, Stuart Storey, Craig Galbraith, Ben Walker, Dave Barton, Ryan Terry, Tom Pickthall, Jack Akrigg, Lewis Horner, Tom Slater. Replacements: Alan Robinson, John Capstick
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