Manchester 24 V De La Salle
By Tim Harper
Dominant Display By Forwards
There were several positives for Manchester, to come out of this first competitive fixture between the two clubs.
The Macnhester pack totally dominated the scrum, they secured a lot of turnover ball, there was a man of the match debut for Ben Lewis and De La Salle were prevented from scoring. However, Manchester will feel that in a match they dominated for long periods that failure to score at least four tries, let the opposition off the hook slightly.
In wet and blustery conditions Manchester started well and for once did not give their opponents a head start. Constant pressure in the De La Salle half led to numerous penalties and after one failed attempt, Doug Day slotted a penalty over in the 25 minute.
Following a good exit from the resulting kick off, Manchester were able to steal the ball back in the De La Salle half. Further pressure paid off and the ball was moved well to Ben Lewis who scored a try on his debut, converted by Doug to take the score to 10 to nil.
With the Manchester scrum now taking control of the set piece, the De La Salle scrum and team were constantly on the back foot and rarely got out of their half. Taking one against the head Manchester were able to move the ball on the blind side breaking through the defence, only for the ball to be knocked on well inside the 22, as play broke down Manchester were guilty of pulling a player back without the ball and De La Salle were able to clear their lines from the resulting penalty. Half time, Manchester 10 De La Salle 0.
As the match resumed after the break, the pattern of the game had now been set, constant pressure from Manchester, De La Salle pinned in their own half and the play breaking down as the wet ball had both sides making numerous handling errors. However, with a dominant scrum and the upper hand at the breakdown, Manchester had an element of control and certainly the lion share of territory.
Following the first substitution of Matt Burton by Gee,the play remained in the De La Salle 22 and from a powerful Manchester scrum close in, Charlie Ding was able to break free and score close to the posts. For Doug to convert 17v0.
For the next 20 minutes there was sustained pressure on the De La Salle line, lots of five metre scrums as Manchester were held up over the line on two occasions. Further changes, saw Tom Fantom and Sam Davis replaced by Harry Noar and Josh Doyle making his first team debut.
There were some handbags between the forwards at the next scrum, with the referee taking the captains aside to maintain discipline. Following this, Manchester moved the ball well across the backs and it looked like Manchester had scored a second try in the right hand corner but the independent linesman had spotted a foot in touch.
Despite Manchester moving the ball well and making several line breaks the De La Salle defence was solid, with lots of good tackling snuffing out all the attacks.
De La Salle then seemed to move up a gear and for the next 10 minutes had the upper hand, pinning Manchester in their half, however, either; poor handling, missed line outs or a creaking scrum prevented them for taking advantage of some good line breaks. From one of these Doug Day was harshly ruled to have made a deliberate knock on by the referee and issued with a yellow card.
Down to 14 players the pressure was on Manchester but they responded, forcing turnover ball and Seb Lingwood made a clean break into the De La Salle half, only for the ball to knocked on. Once again the Manchester forwards kept on the pressure at the scrum and won the ball back, then mounted a series of close in drives, with James Brodie eventually crashing over on full time, Doug again converted, leaving the final score at 24v0 to the home team.
As said at the outset lots of positives on the day but a slight disappointment not to get a try bonus point.