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Rugby Union: Kirkby Lonsdale 27-8 Wilmslow
SCRUM-HALF Ben Walker made the scoresheet twice as Kirkby Lonsdale recorded their highest-ever league position with victory against Wilmslow – as Simon Dowker bid farewell to Underley Park.
Walker and Stuart Storey touched down as the home side established a 15-3 half-time lead, with Tom Pickthall and Bob MacCallum trading penalties.
Tom Rayner was the only Wilmslow player to cross the line after Walker had extended the Kirkby advantage, as Jack Dickinson secured a bonus point victory.
Josh Maddocks replaced Jack Akrigg at centre as Liam Cleary and Dickinson came in at ten and eleven respectively, with senior colt Ryan Terry at full-back.
Kirkby seized the early advantage and fittingly the move stemmed from the retiring Dowker who took clean lineout ball, with Walker spreading play along the backs division.
Wing Dickinson received possession inside his own twenty two before taking play to the opposite end of the pitch and timing a pass to Walker who scored under the posts, as Pickthall converted.
MacCullum’s radar was off cue with a penalty before Craig Galbraith picked up an injury, with John Whittaker taking the field and Storey switching from flanker to number eight.
Pickthall successfully kicked a penalty after Wilmslow were penalised for not rolling away from a tackle, while shortly afterwards Kirkby further strengthened their grip on proceedings.
Initially held up during a period of pressure, Kirkby managed to strike following Storey’s darting run through the visiting defence, with Pickthall’s conversion falling short.
After the referee overruled his touch judges in respect of a MacCallum penalty which appeared to pass between the posts, Kikrby were reduced to 14 men.
Maddocks received a yellow card, also for failing to roll away from a tackle, with MacCallum’s penalty registering Wilmslow’s first points.
Leading 15-3 at the break, Kirkby enjoyed the upper hand during the opening stages of the second half with a sustained period of pressure paving the way for their third try.
After taking possession 15 metres from the line, Walker burst through the Wilsmlow defence to cross the line with a diving finish, although Pickthall’s conversion hit a post.
With 20 minutes remaining, Wilmslow began to enjoy greater possession and reduced the arrears as left wing Rayner rounded the Kirkby defence to score in the corner.
MacCallum’s conversion drifted wide although the away side now had a foothold in the game with the next score likely to prove crucial.
Kirkby were very much on the backfoot at this stage but defended resolutely to keep Wilmslow at bay, with their cause was not helped by prop Ryan Holmes receiving a yellow card.
With a numerical advantage, Wilmslow retained possession although were denied any real attacking momentum ahead of Kirkby delivering a knockout blow.
After intercepting a pass close to his own line, Pickthall combined with Walker as Dickinson was released before running the length of the pitch to seal victory.
Pickthall’s conversion completed the scoring as Kirkby secured fifth place in North West One while also claiming a record 20th bonus point of the season.
Kirkby Lonsdale: Ryan Holmes, Dan Armistead, Tim Groves, Simon Dowker, Matt Hughes (c), Alan Robinson, Stuart Storey, Craig Galbraith, Ben Walker, Liam Cleary, Martyn Knapton, Josh Maddocks, Tom Pickthall, Jack Dickinson, Ryan Terry. Replacements: Sam Latu, John Whittaker
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