On Saturday our rugby players took on Altrincham GS. To see pictures from some of these matches please visit AKS TV.
1st XV 63 Altrincham 6
Despite the blustery conditions, AKS were keen to show the worth of an open and expansive style of play. It took until the second-half to fulfil their potential, as the first half was littered with mistakes at the breakdown preventing the possession being turned into points.
Fly-half Alex Vowles-Bradley worked positively to direct play early on, until a foot injury forced him to leave the field mid-way through the half. There were a number of good individual line breaks, only for the pass not to go to hand or result in the player being isolated.
However, following a fine run by fullback Andy Walkden, Elliot Fackey was released in open space to race in for the first try, which Walkden converted. Altrincham responded with two penalties following a number of attacks close to the fringes and lack of concentration at the scrum. Nonetheless, with Andy Walkden filling the void at 10 with a re-organised backline, AKS kept their momentum and on the stroke of half-time a try from winger Oliver Mills and a Walkden conversion extended the lead to 14-6.
AKS began the second half by making good use of the wind to gain field position, whilst also exploiting the defensive frailties a little wider from the ruck and maul. The context of the game changed in the first ten minutes of the half; as confidence grew AKS denied Altrincham possession and used the ball to great effect. Walkden showed excellent balance to accelerate through a gap to score a well taken individual try, which was followed by two long range efforts by centre Josh Oldland, and a first for prop James Hart as AKS extended the score to 42-6 with Walkden adding the extras.
The pick of tries was still to come, as the pack supported a neat break by scrum half Harry Kenworthy to drive deep into opposition territory. Prop Charles Laycock, having always fancied himself as a back, made a superbly timed pass off the base of ruck to send centre Josh Oldland in for a well-deserved hat-trick.
Flanker/wing Will Thompson and hooker Matthew McLaughlan completed the scoring with two well taken tries as Andrew Walkden maintained his 100% success rate with his conversions to top a superb team display. AKS secured a 63-6 win.
Apart from a few occasions when ‘white line fever' took hold, this was a terrific performance. The team have worked hard during the week to develop their game plan, and today experienced the positive affect that that can have on the outcome of their matches. The support play of the back row trio of Alex Stanier, Matt Patterson and Matt Cartmell was excellent, and the work rate of the second row Tom Lanigan and Matthew Garrod ensured that possession was maintained for large periods of play. Once the space has been created, there is an exciting backline on hand to finish things off.
2nd XV 31 Altrincham 7
A wonderful playing surface but a fierce northerly wind created a game of two halves. The visitors immediately put the Spartans under pressure with a well organised series of pick and drives. Fortunately, the gale meant that any turnovers were punished by near length of the pitch kicks. This gained the Spartans territory in the 22 and it wasn't long before Myles Dunlop scored after a series of line breaks.
A simple exploitation of an overlap allowed Isaac Ackerley to score despite considerable cover defence. Tyne Davies continued his superb kicking form by making it 14-0 at half time.
Superb running from the visitor's inside centre was rewarded with a try under the posts and the Spartans were under pressure. However, Ali Harper and Will Jepson worked very hard in the loose exchanges to win the ball back. Myles Dunlop scored again, closely followed by a really well deserved try for captain Ali Harper.
The best try of the game followed a number of close drives from the pack, a number of tidy offloads, and a number of precise passes. Jordan Makepeace timed his run and went in for a great 37 yard score to seal the game.
U15A 5 Altrincham 58
If the U15s play against a better, more aggressive, well-drilled, fit and skilful side all season, then I will be amazed (not to mention worried!).
Altrincham were outstanding from 1 to 15, and even though the AKS boys did not give in at any stage and kept battling to the last, the Altrincham boys gave a master class in clinical finishing after dominating possession.
Matthew Worsnip scored the AKS try and there were good performances from Jamie Broadbent, Rory Douglas, Charlie Kenyon and Matthew Barrett, but with the AKS boys being starved of the ball, it was only a matter of time before they broke the gain line. The AKS defence was outstanding at times but you can only keep defending for so long.
The boys will have learnt a lot from playing against such talented opposition.
U14A 7 Altrincham 50
AKS worked hard against a large and very talented Altrincham side and will have learned many lessons from playing opponents of this calibre.
AKS got off to a poor start as tackles were missed immediately from kickoff and Alrincham ran straight through for their first try. Altrincham continued to score tries but mostly through impressive offloading as AKS grew into the task of tackling their opponents.
Sam Ingham-Gore and Jan Engelbart were particularly aggressive and got through plenty of defensive work.
The second half was a more even affair, and as Altrincham made several changes AKS got their hands on the ball more and looked to attack. Jake Bywater and Dec Browell carried well and the backs looked sharp when they moved the ball. Small errors kept the home side from scoring until the final play of the game when they retained the ball properly and were rewarded with a try for Josh Radley who was one of the standout performers for his team.
The AKS boys must look to recover for a Lancashire Cup match on Tuesday and a chance to bounce back well.
U13A 24 Altrincham 19
The U13As returned to rugby action on Saturday with a potentially challenging fixture against an experienced and physically large Altrincham side. In the early moments it seemed that the presence of a leviathan no 8 would cause problems as he took advantage of the forwards' inability to keep the ball to sprint in unopposed.
From then on, AKS took the game to Altrincham and excellent defence and pressure meant that Altrincham were pinned in their own half throughout the first period. However, there was no reward for the effort despite good breaks from Jacob Pyrah, James Cowburn and Oscar Gavin, as first Charles Shaw misread the lines on the pitch to spurn a try, then Oscar O'Neill was unfortunate not to be awarded a clear try and good defence prevented a close range effort from providing a score for Charlie Cadley. AKS went 0-7 down at half time.
Further use of the squad of 21 players at half time meant fresh legs. A determined start to the second half saw better pressure from the AKS pack, which won good ball that was used effectively by the backs to put in Charles Shaw for a good team try which was converted expertly by Ben Holmes.
At 7-7 it seemed the match had turned in AKS's favour but after another strong run by Charlie Cadley, the support was not quite there quickly enough and the Altrincham leviathan broke the line to race in from 50 metres. AKS were, however, stung into action by this setback and started to dominate the forward exchanges as Joe Duncan, Jake Moore and Josh Moreau won good ruck ball and turnovers came from Xander Douglas, Spenser Barker and Rob Mill.
With quicker ball coming regularly now, the backs, set in motion by an impressive Oscar O'Neill, Ben Holmes and Charlie Cadley, once again put the ball through hands to release Charles Shaw for a second try. Holmes missed the conversion to leave AKS trailing 12-14.
However, the scrum was now starting to provide solid ball as Michael Storton, Sam Kyle-Clay and Oliver Wilkinson-Grey continued good first half work from Jack Worsley, Matty Clayton and George Dale to drive the team into the Altrincham 22, and won the scrum from which Ryan Evans stole a march on the defence to score a typical scrum half's try under the posts which Holmes converted to make it 19-14.
The whole team began to dominate all areas of the game now and, after a couple of good runs from Tom Wyatt, the ball was eventually set up to allow the backs to give Charles Shaw space again to score his hat trick try. The game was not over yet however, and Altrincham still attacked to the end but stout defensive work from the whole team could not quite prevent a controversial consolation try with the last move of the game, thus seeing AKS run out 24-19 winners.
Every member of the 21 man squad saw action and each one contributed to an excellent victory which was very much deserved because of tough defence and effective running rugby in attack. Charles Shaw gets the man of the match for his powerful finishing, closely followed by debutant Joe Duncan, who made a great try saving tackle in the second half and whose physical presence and power regularly intimidated the opposition. All the boys are to be congratulated on a real team effort and can look forward to carrying this form through to the rest of the season.
U12A 5 Altrincham 22
On a typical Lytham day AKS under 12’s turned up for their second match of the season to blustery but dry conditions. Altrincham arrived with a large group of players both in number and stature.
A good start from the home side saw the kick-off re-gathered and the forwards drive dynamically with ball in hand. Making great yards from bullocking runs by Sam Hackett and Harvey Moore, the three-quarters then handled the ball superbly considering the conditions, and wing Max Older was unlucky to run out of space after showing some good pace.
Altrincham eventually settled down and, recycling well, handled the ball behind to their speedy wingers. Showing good footwork they took play deep into the AKS half. Under pressure the home side’s defence had to be good and they were certainly up for the test. Behind the scrum, fly-half Alex Clayton, CentresSam Haythornthwaite and Ben Gould knocked down player after player. When the attack did break through the cover from the forwards was superb. Moore, Hackett, Curtis Fletcher and Reece Chadwick all covered massive ground to help out when required. On several occasions, when Altrincham had the numbers, hard work and effort saw AKS scrambling to make tackle after tackle to snuff out the threat.
The domination of the half continued to ebb and flow with the home side, through a solid scrum winning good ball and the back row breaking the tackle, frequently getting beyond the first line of defence. When it was their turn Altrincham were constantly looking to recycle quickly and get the ball through the backs’ hands to the wings.
AKS were unlucky not to open the scoring when a great drive from Hackett saw scrum-half Jason Gallagher distribute well and, with the overlap there, the backs were disappointed to see the final pass not find its target.
Unfortunately it was the away side who managed to get the first try. Yet again, from some dynamic back play, they found themselves deep in the AKS half. With the defence working hard the Altrincham forwards battered the line until they eventually went over.
H.T. 0 – 5
With the wind in their faces AKS yet again started the half strongly. From a good scrum Hackett broke well and, supported by the pack, second row Kasim Munir carried on the movement as did Moore. With the line beckoning the Lytham attack was held up and the scrum awarded. Another solid set piece saw Hackett pick up and show determination and desire to crash over for the try.
The try seemed to spur the AKS effort even more and sterling work at the lineout by Munir and Chadwick saw Altrincham under deep pressure. With the recycling in the loose improving also, half backs Gallagher and Clayton continued to combine well providing good ball for the rest of the backs. Full Back Max Buckingham was now seeing far more of the ball and enjoying running through the gaps which seemed to be appearing. Unfortunately however, the ball was starting to be turned over, especially when attackers went in high and didn’t get to floor and this saw Altrincham back in the game. Yet again good handling saw the away side’s wingers in space and good footwork saw the left wing step inside twice and score to put the away side back into the lead.
This disappointment did not see AKS giving up but more good play from the away side saw them go further ahead from a similar movement.
With time running out the home side continued to strive for the next score and, good use of the blindside by both Hackett and Gallagher, saw right wing Chris Bridges not only make good ground, but also recycle superbly under huge pressure. Again the rest of the backs played their part with Clayton making a fine individual break with a cheeky dummy and both Buckingham and Gould charging down the wings when the space was made.
Unfortunately, and in some respects unfairly, Altrincham finished the game with a try when a loose ball was gathered close to.
F.T. 5 - 22
As the team were told at the end of the match, although they should be disappointed to lose, they must not lose sight of the fact they performed very well. Against strong opposition AKS competed superbly and, as their coach admitted at the end of the game, the result could have gone either way. We will certainly play a lot worse this season and win. The defence by the whole side was outstanding and certain players in the side will have slept well on Saturday night after the amount of ground they had covered in the game. The scrum was rock solid as was the lineout. This was pleasing as it was the first time we had had to compete in those areas. The backs handled well in the conditions and created a few opportunities which unfortunately they just couldn’t take.
We still need to work on our rucking as at times we were fairly static when the ball was there to be won. We must also work hard to drive into contact when we have the ball a little lower enabling us to get to ground as we seem to be turned over far too easily when we stay on our feet. When we carry out a back row move from the scrum we need the flankers and scrum half to be there in support and ready to take what could be a try-scoring pass. Behind the scrum we need to run a little straighter so that when the ball gets to the wings they have space to work.
There will always be issues to work on and these are not meant to be criticisms as, on the whole, both Mr Hayden and Mr Rudd were very pleased with the performance.
This weekend we are at home again v Liverpool College at the Blackpool site and another performance like today’s will hopefully see us get back to winning ways.
Oh and finally, Mr Rudd was delighted with Messer’s Connolly and Whittingham who gave the spoils to CCFC and, as a result, a few months of bragging rights for the Welshman.