TARLETON’S second XV found themselves with 17 players this week a blend of experience and youth that took a little while to start gelling on the day.
The seconds also welcomed back Nick Whiteman (the hero of Italy in 2010) as did Garstang with the highest tackle of the season that went unpunished.
Garstang’s game plan from the start was to keep Tarleton penned in their own 22 with some clever kicking and in their impatience to get out of this situation Tarleton gave Garstang an easy penalty in front of the posts after 10 minutes.
This was followed by Garstang then being held up over the try line and then a Tarleton clearance kick went directly to a Garstang back who powered through for another score and Garstang led 10-0.
Tarleton started to come back into the game and started to play phased rugby; but time after time following several phases the impatience of youth came out as balls were kicked away to the relieved Garstang players.
From the sideline it was obvious that Garstang couldn’t handle the pace of Tarleton’s backs, but instead of capitalising on this Tarleton played into Garstang’s hands and kept ceding possession.
If nothing proved that this was the way forward more, it was a period of possession where the ball travelled from left to right and back again and saw Rory Mitchell crash over in the corner.
The Tarleton tails were up at 10-5 and from a poor attacking kick by Garstang, Elliott Burton ran the ball back at them making 40 yards before being tackled and winning a penalty as the tackler decided not to roll away and killed the ball.
This penalty was taken quickly and Sam Tyrer fed Jordan Dawson who drew his man and flipped the ball out to Brian Parsons who ran through two Garstang defenders to score a well-worked try.
The score was now 10-10 and the referee blew the whistle for half-time.
The second-half was a scrappy affair with Tarleton looking the more likely to score, but the lack of patience shone through as again they continued to try to force the try with a kick. And as the Garstang players called ‘Mark’, the chance of a try kept on going.
Garstang forwards (including at least two first XV players whose game had been cancelled) got a second wind and towards the end of the game Tarleton were defending for their lives.
Good defensive play and a couple of good clearance kicks from Elliott Burton saw the pressure relieved but Garstang were coming in waves by now and Tarleton were tiring.
In a dramatic end, a high tackle by Tarleton saw the Garstang No. 8 take a quick penalty and crash through the defence to score a last minute try which was converted and the final whistle blown.
A 17-10 defeat should have been a victory for Tarleton with the amount of possession the forwards created, but some poor kicking options and disastrous line-outs relieved far too much pressure from Garstang and to their credit they took their chances well.
TARLETON’S first XV continued with their winning ways with a creditable 17-10 away victory at St Edward’s Old Boys. This keeps them joint-top of the league, just behind local rivals Hutton on points difference.