It has been a long wait for the start of the 2019-20 season - 19 weeks, 6 days and some 21 hours since the whistle was blown at Manchester at the end of last season, confirming Firwood Waterloo’s place at rugby’s level 6.
Trips to Cumbria are never easy and the boys kicked off their campaign with a difficult trip up the M6 to Penrith. It was honours equal last term as both of these sides used home advantage to collect the points. But with strengthening the squad over the summer, the Merseysiders travelled with realistic optimism.
In the first period the home side scored first and after 8 minutes led 10 – 0. When Firwood Waterloo did settle, they matched their host’s efforts through good work from the forwards pressing Penrith’s line. Skills on display from the backs came in attacking guise by Dom Gosling’s strong running and in defence and disruption from Sean Colebourne. After converting a penalty, Loo’s first try came from a cross field kick with Daragh O’Brien drawing well on his Gaelic football skills to gather the ball and score before adding the extras. Slick work from the backs gave O’Brien his second try for a half time lead 10 – 15 with all Loo’s points coming from the left winger.
After the change around Firwood Waterloo continued with their game plan but conceded a penalty try following repeated infringement at the scrum on the 5m line. Further tries for Penrith came from breakaways as for long periods the visitors were down to 14 men and for a short time down to 13. In reply, long spells of attacking play by Firwood Waterloo only added a further seven points, the final score 43 – 22.
Despite the disappointing outcome, coach Stuart Turner praised the efforts of his squad and was pleased to see the results of hard work during training out on the pitch. He commented, “We did enough to come away with something from this game, but need to improve our decision making and retain closer control of the ball in all phases of the game,” adding “greater consistency will lead to the results we seek and I am confident that will happen as this developing squad get more experience of playing together”.
Next week sees Firwood Waterloo return to home territory to renew their acquaintance with Broughton Park. In this highly competitive league, they were another opponent against which home advantage proved decisive last season.
Report written with grateful contributions from the travelling faithful.