Buxton 1st XV 28, Congleton 1st XV 3
A blizzard-struck Sunnyfields witnessed a consistent, gritty Buxton performance that blew away a resilient Congleton visiting side, and gave Buxton another bonus point victory to improve their chances of promotion.
In freezing conditions and winds of over 50mph it was never going to be an attractive game of rugby.
With the wind at their backs Campbell and Torrence used the conditions well to enable Buxton to dominate the first-half territory. Camped deep inside Congleton’s half, Buxton constantly pounded the Congleton line, most notably through the runs of Scott and Hodgson.
Eventually the pressure told and Congleton leaked numerous penalties and within three minutes Campbell had the opportunity to put Buxton on the board with an early penalty goal in front of the posts.
From the restart Buxton went back on the attack and camped deep in Congleton’s half. Good rucking from Rabbits, DeGroot, Slater and Pullen set-up a platform for which Buxton could build on. After a series of short pick and drives Meek picked up the ball, seized the initiative and boshed his way through the ruck like a juggernaut.
Buxton continued to ask questions of Congleton and were only halted from scoring by brave defending and the conditions preventing them from recycling the ball quickly.
After 30 minutes Buxton were awarded a number of scrums. After two unsuccessful attempts Buxton managed to accomplish a pre-planned back row move, which saw the ball fed blind from Scott to Campbell and to Torrence, each drawing their opponent before releasing the lightning legs of Holliday to score in the corner.
The second half began with Buxton re-energized, but now forced to keep the ball close in hand; adapting their tactics to suit the head wind.
Again a planned move from a scrum in the middle of the pitch saw Campbell release his backs. Torrence found Passey coming back in on the angle, who fed Austin and the ball was off-loaded to Waters who broke clear. Waters was eventually halted and Torrence was rewarded for following his pass and finished off a great backs move.
Congleton tried to use the conditions to their own advantage and kick the ball deep into Buxton’s territory. However he ball was retrieved with interest by G Mellor who jinxed his way back like a court jester, tormenting the Congleton defence.
Midway through the second half Buxton rang the changes with immediate impact. Bulger, noticing the defence had rushed up, elected to grubber kick through, then pounced on his own kick like a possessed python to score their fourth try and secure the bonus point.
Not content with the scoreline, captain McCoy rallied his troops and Buxton turned the screw and consistently played their way out of their own half. Brilliant work from prop Lomas coming onto the ball at pace ignited Buxton. From here on in Congleton’s line was pounded with attack after attack down the blind side, but to their credit the visitors’ defence held firm. However, Buxton did add a further score when Campbell took a quick tap penalty and fired his way over the line.
On balance Buxton will be pleased to start the new year with a bonus point victory, not a major spectacle due to the weather conditions, but ‘mission accomplished’.