Manchester 12 v Waterloo 40
By Tim Harper
Judging by the way Waterloo warmed up, it appeared that the visitors were well-prepared for this final match of the season with everything to play for. Very business-like, very together, limited handling errors in their warm-up.
The winners would be safe, the losers relegated. A somewhat ridiculous state of affairs for a team that had won 11 games and drawn one in a league of 14. Both teams on 62 points, with the two, already doomed, teams beneath them on 11 and 9 points respectably!
I am not going to dwell on the detail in this match report, for the sake of the individual players, who tried valiantly enough to stave off relegation. In particular Brodie exhausted himself trying to carry the ball up-field to create momentum, but was generally stopped with gang-tackling; Oli created a wonderful solo try stepping four or five defenders when running in broken field to score our only first half try and Charlie gave a captains performance including a quick tap try in the second, but it was all to little avail.
Suffice it to say that despite their efforts, the same season-long weaknesses were exposed. These will certainly need to be addressed more positively in the close season. Lack of support runners to take off-loads from Brodie and Oli or anyone else who broke the line, lack of go-forward in both defense and attack, poor decision-making, marked lack of fitness were evident in far too many matches, also a lack of structure in executing a good exit from our own 22, when under pressure.
In comparison Waterloo seldom gave the ball away in their own half and created three or four tries with good offloading. The turning point of the match perhaps coming just after half time with Manchester only 9 points adrift holding out in defence in the red zone and finally dispossessing Waterloo, (who appeared to be sealing the ball off to this observer at almost every ruck). We regained possession but failed to clear gifting Waterloo the ball inside the halfway, when their stand-out full-back carved his way upfield before two consecutive support-runner off-loads gave them an easily converted try. 5-14 is do-able, 5-21 far less so….
To their credit Manchester pressed again in attack deep into the 22, but lacked patience, an interception and length of the field sprint putting the visitors out of touch on 28 points.
In the closing stages, despite Charlie’s try, with the nearest support 10 metres back it was too little too late. Waterloo running in two more team tries with good offloading to win 12-40.
A bonus point victory lifting them four places to eighth in this all too competitive league.
Manchester must rebuild and show far more dedication and clinical nous next season if they are to come straight back up, starting with a quality pre-season.
This season’s campaign wasn’t lost v. a competent, combative Waterloo, but in failing to put De La Salle and Anselmians to the sword in both home AND away fixtures, (as their overall results and points show they really don’t belong in this league|), missing out on several bonus points in close-fought games &, from what I have been told, virtually giving the game away at Northwich.
A big thanks to Brodie, Ena and Jay for their efforts this season, they were all a joy to watch, their efforts and technique an exemplar for all those around them. Time for others to step up.
With a very successful colts team behind them and an increasingly impressive 2nd team beside them not all is doom and gloom for next season.