Heartache for Firwood Waterloo as they succumb to a late dropped goal at Burnage
Firwood Waterloo’s six match winning run came to an agonising end as a late drop goal gave their top of the table hosts, Burnage a slender 27 – 25 win.
The match was always set to be a close and keenly fought contest and in front of the visiting Lancashire president Gill Burns MBE both teams played their part in an exciting and entertaining game.
The forwards from Blundellsands who played well throughout the match exerted early control which forced a penalty for Daragh O’Brien to open the scoring. Their hosts kicked into space well to test the ‘Loo defence but it held firm. The attacking intent from the boys in myrtle prevailed and midfield general Alex Ward found a gap in the home side defence to score with O’Brien to add the extras.
The forwards maintained the pressure but failing to roll away after a tackle gave a penalty to Burnage. A quick tap and go caught the visitors by surprise and led to the home side’s first scores of the afternoon.
‘Loo returned to their pressing game and were matched by Burnage, but mishandling in the cold conditions by both sides meant that the scoreboard was not troubled for a period. Both defences were put under pressure, but it was the powerful Burnage backs that found a way through the Firwood Waterloo defence to score for a half time lead of 14 – 10.
The second half started with the same intensity from both sides with the magnificent Kurt Riley playing a key role in carrying the ball up field. He was supported by Josh Jenkins who had a number of fine breaks in midfield – these are becoming his signature moves. The forwards’ pressure earned ‘Loo a penalty to reduce the deficit to a single point.
The next phases of play saw the lead change hands many times. Great running by Lee Ferrier released Alex Ward for his second try to retake the lead by four points. Burnage responded with patient play to retake the lead by a point, only for an inspired break by Dom Gosling to score for the boys from Blundellsands and take a six point lead.
A tense final ten minutes saw Burnage come within a point with a finely worked try in the corner. And to the agony of the many travelling faithful a dropped goal gave the home side a two point lead.
The visitors were not done and gave their all, winning a penalty just outside the Burnage 22. A difficult kick was narrowly missed in what proved to be the last kick of the game.
Coach Stuart Turner remained upbeat after the game. “There was nothing more that we could have done in that game. I am so proud of the commitment of my players but in such a close league wins are decided by fine margins.”
He explained that after the match he had told his players “Despite today’s result, our fate is still very much in our own hands. We can push for at least a play-off place and that is now our focus.”
Firwood Waterloo’s next game is another tricky tie at home to Northwich on 15th February 2020. The Cheshire men leap-frogged over ‘Loo to take second place in the league who moved to third.
Photos courtesy of Eddie Thomas have been added to the website at https://firwoodwaterloorfc.rfu.club/gallery/waterloo-1stxv-at-burnage-08-02-2020