ORMSKIRK 1st XV travelled to Hale this Saturday to take on fellow promotion hopefuls Bowdon. Although missing six 1st team regulars through illness and injury, confidence in the squad was high that they could come away with the spoils and avoid only their second loss of the season.
Bowdon started the stronger side and made a couple of early breaks that required 'Kirk's cover defence to best it's best to stop them scoring. The home side's early possession was turned into points with a penalty from 35 yards out by their inside centre. This seemed to kick Ormskirk into action both in defence, where centres Neil Habberfield and Alan Frost, ably assisted by flankers Craig Ennis and Martin Rothwell barely missed a tackle and in attack with winger Joe Hodson and forwards Dan Hitchlock and Val Gateley making good yards on a regular basis.
The men in green justifiably got their noses in front as winger Ben McCarthy's clinical finish in the corner was made possible after a chip over in midfield was collected by Hodson who evaded numerous defenders and passed to Alex Lambie who's neat offload gave McCarthy his chance to scorch down the touchline to score. The remainder of the half was nip and tuck with both sides having periods in the ascendency but it was Bowdon who took their chances. Shortly after Lambie narrowly missed with a 25 yard penalty attempt, the home side's number 12 made no such mistake to put them back in front 6-5. This was followed by two tries for Bowdon, both made by their rapid outside centre and scored out wide but as neither were converted 'Kirk still felt they were in the game at half-time, trailing 16 points to 5.
Ormskirk began the second half in impressive fashion, spending virtually all of the first 10 minutes camped in the hosts' half. The strong running of Andy Davidson and Aidan Charlton made valuable yards and allowed the backs some good quick ball to launch attacks. After the disappointment of having a kickable penalty quite rightly reversed by the referee, 'Kirk got back on the scoreboard with McCarthy's second try of the afternoon, on the back of good handling skills from Glyn Roberts, Lambie and Frost. The conversion was missed but the visitors were right back in the game at only 6 points down. With their tails now up, 'Kirk continued to attack and were rewarded as Hodson eluded a couple of would-be tacklers in typical fashion before offloading to Habberfield who gave McCarthy an opening to finish a superb hat-trick by diving over in the corner. The conversion was again missed but the gap was now only one point.
Unfortunately this was as close as Ormskirk were going to get as Bowdon regained and element of control over the game and enjoyed the territorial advantage. This was turned into points as their big inside centre broke through and the ball found their left winger who touched down for the match-winning try. 'Kirk were disappointed to only come away with a losing bonus point from what was a hugely competitive game played by two of the strongest teams in the league but can take heart in this performance, especially with so many players absent.
On Saturday 'Kirk face the tough task of visiting Moore who are always a tough team to beat on their own pitch.
Ormskirk Ladies are preparing for Sunday's League derby with local rivals Southport which kicks off at 2.00pm at Green Lane.
Ormskirk Ladies will remain without the services of several of their star players this Sunday as they take on Southport Ladies in the hope of regaining pole position in the North Challenge League.
Captain Keisha Hendricks said: “We have a few girls unavailable due to other commitments and Tiyra, Kayleigh, Lou Jackson and Emma Fletcher are unlikely to be fit until the New Year. The girls in this week's squad will really have to step up but they are an amazing bunch of players and they'll get the job done on Sunday.”
Emma Brown will be making her home debut at lock, and the club welcome back feisty flanker Selina Makin who had missed the last few weeks with flu. Alice Woods still has a sore shoulder, but coach Foster expects her to play some part in the game. “Alice has really impressed everyone at both club and university with her form this year, but we must be careful not to over play her. I know she would play a full game if we asked her to!! We have Charlottes Pearce and Trail both in contention for places this week and of course Zoe is back from visiting family in Somerset, so I'm sure she will be looking for a big game.”