South Lancs/Cheshire League Division Three
Buxton 1st XV 9, Wallasey 15
BATTLING Buxton just lost out following a titanic tussle with top of the table Wallasey.
The Merseyside outfit arrived at Sunnyfields having won all eight of their South Lancashire and Cheshire Three contests - but that unbeaten tag was severely put to the test following a scintillating contest which could have gone either way.
Discipline was always going to be a key factor - and so it proved with Buxton conceding 31 penalties to Wallasey’s 24.
Strong early running from Buxton winger Alex Holliday and centre Gavin Passey tested Wallasey’s resolve early on but it was the Merseysiders who struck first when their No.8 picked up from the back of a scrum to power over, while the conversion went wide of the mark.
Buxton fought back with the influential back row trio of Ric Bartram, Ian Scott and Josh Degroot winning several phases of play, while the front row of youngster Simeon Meek and veterans Colin Rabbitts and Jason Meir were beginning to make their presence felt in the scrums.
However Buxton’s usual consistency in the line-out was missing on this occasion.
That didn’t stop Buxton from closing the gap when fly half Miles Bulger fired over a penalty after Wallasey were penalised at a ruck.
However Buxton proved careless when caught offside enabling Wallasey to land a penalty of their own to lead 8-3.
That advantage soon swopped hands as Buxton struck with two more penalties in quick succession.
Superb tackling from skipper Ryan McCoy and second row partner Paul Storer forced the first penalty, while Wallasey were then penalised for misbehaving again in the ruck.
Buxton also moved to tighten up both their line-out and scrummage by bringing on Mike Pullen in place of Rabbitts, Pullen having fractured a finger in midweek playing for the university.
Leading 9-8 at half time, the prospects looked good for Buxton after the break.
War horse Meir set the tone while the introduction of youngsters Simon Hodgson and Joe Lomas added power to Buxton’s pack.
Full back Kyle Mellor and Alex Holliday were repeatedly tested when bombarded with high balls, while centre James Torrence and winger Gary Ives continually crashed against the rocks of Wallasey’s defence.
One of the highlights for Buxton was the front row display from Pullen, Meek and Lomas who won the front row battle. More pleasing was the fact none of trio are over 20-years-old yet.
It was somewhat against the run of play that Wallasey produced the winning score.
A quick turnover followed by a powerful maul resulted in Wallasey’s No.8 crashing over for his second try of the game – this time it was converted to seal the points.
Buxton’s cause wasn’t helped when they were reduced to 13 players following a couple of questionable yellow cards.
However Buxton’s 13 held firm to prevent any further score.