A good defensive effort by the visitors was not enough to prevent a Manchester win with the scoreboard proving difficult to nudge forward.
Manchester started well, driving over in the opening exchanges but with the ball held up and then knocked forward, AK escaped. Not only did they escape but the first of their series of successful penalties saw them take a 0-3 lead after ten minutes.
Manchester continued to attack and Altrincham Kersal continued to defend, but when they finally managed to get back into the home half, another penalty gave them the chance to double the lead, well struck to close the quarter at 0-6.
AK were struggling to put enough phases together to pose a serious threat as the game became confined to the midfield, Manchester occasionally approaching the 22 but any attack being snuffed out quickly. When Manchester were awarded a kickable penalty, there was no hesitation in going for posts and Doug Day’s trusty boot duly made it 3-6. The rest of the half passed with little incident, some late pressure from AK during a rare advance into Manchester’s 22 coming to nought to close the half with the teams separated by just one penalty.
Manchester started the second half clearly meaning business but the Altrincham defence stuck at its job with little panic, despite seeing little of the ball. Of course once they did, they scored! An excellent drive progressed worryingly towards Manchester’s line, stopped but not to the referee’s satisfaction so that an easy penalty after ten minutes restored the six-point gap at 3-9.
The best sequence of the game was to follow when a brilliant sustained attack by Manchester with seemingly every player involved stretched AK one way and then the other. This was clearly the only way to work the ball past their well-drilled defence with the one disadvantage being that the space appeared wide out on the wing! Day squeezed over to close to a single point at 8-9 leaving himself with the trickiest conversion possible from the left hand side touchline. The kick was struck perfectly however and edged Manchester into a 10-9 lead with just over 20 minutes to play.
It seemed inevitable that Manchester would be able to kick on from here but all credit has to be given to the visitors for staying in the game and setting up a tense finale. With only a couple of minutes to go, a long kick by Richard McCartney was fumbled and the resulting scrum inside the 22 seemed the right platform to close the game out at the very least. Somehow the ball was turned over however and the visitors had a sniff of an unlikely win when they broke from their own 22. As the game broke up with players out of position, Manchester were able to disrupt the attack but a late scrum kept the momentum going for AK. The home defence suddenly became a little ragged and two penalties were conceded in injury time which set up dangerous positions for the visitors, still looking for their first try and also the win that would go with it. Manchester dug in however, AK did not have the needed control, and no side was finally reached with the lead intact. Altrincham Kersal had got closer to a win than they should have been allowed, but for the second week running Manchester showed their character to deservedly take the honours.