Another Saturday, another local derby and again the weather conditions meant the going was heavy.
An early penalty by Richard McCartney opened the scoring as Wilmslow were well off side in defence (3-0). The equalising penalty was considerably more controversial when Zak Round was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on rather than attempted an intercept, the three points being preceded by a yellow card (3-3).
Manchester were first to cross the line as the half hour mark approached when Anthony TiaTia scooped up a knock on by Wilmslow, and playing the advantage, sent a long pass out to Joe Houghton on the wing who was strong enough to force his way over in the corner to make it 8-3.
Manchester continued to have the better of both possession and territory but were met by a well organised defence despite a long period in the opposition’s 22. When Wilmslow repeatedly infringed to resist the attack, Manchester took the option of easy points at the second time of asking to end the half 11-3 up.
The first twenty minutes of the second period passed without incident with any attacking play breaking down due to handling errors on both sides. Manchester’s good approach work through some good touch kicking by McCartney was repeatedly undone by poor lineout execution, a real let off for Wilmslow throughout the game.
Although Manchester were rarely threatened, a second try was needed to make the lead that much safer. As the third quarter began, some untidy play by both sides was tidied up by Seb Lingwood who made good ground inside Wilmslow’s 22 yet again. This time James Brodie was on hand some ten metres out to take the ball on, and carried those trying to stop him over the line to increase the gap to 18-3 once Doug Day had added the conversion.
Wilmslow responded quickly, just losing out on a foot race when a clearance kick was charged down and then five minutes later, opting for a catch & drive form an efficient lineout for an easy score, closing to 18-10.
With ten minutes to go however, the result was almost settled when Jake Stewart raced upfield looking likely to score but needing the support of TiaTia. With players hanging off him, the ball was flicked inside to Zak Round to reopen the gap to 25-10 with another conversion.
A frustrating period of play saw Wilmslow advance well into Manchester’s territory with penalty after penalty for reasons not entirely clear but backed up by another yellow card for Manchester! The 14 men remained defiant but when another penalty allowed a carbon copy catch & drive to be set up, Wilmslow could hope to retrieve a losing bonus point from 25-15.
That wasn’t to be, as a pragmatic decision to take a late penalty kick at goal was probably wise after the afternoon’s lineout misery, and Day closed the scoring at a satisfying 28-15 to extend Manchester’s winning run.