South Lancs Cheshire Division One
Oswestry Eagles 1sts 20, Broughton Park 1sts 47
It was a turnaround for Oswestry following last week’s 104-3 defeat at Glossop as they entertained third-place Broughton Park for the first time at Granville Park.
The Eagles were able to put out a considerably different team from their defeat against Glossop, with Andy Merret and Masirewa ‘Massy’ Viliame coming back at centres, Dan Morgan and James Roberts on the wings and the giant Luca Owen Yuoens back at 15. The pack had Guy Roberts and Declan Hughes back in the front row with James Booth at eight and the big man, Matt Colee at seven with Scott Double the fanatical attacking machine at six.
The game started with Oswestry attacking the strong Broughton team who they pushed back and were caught out, with Oswestry showing the form that won them the place in the league at the beginning of the season.
A penalty was given away on the Eagles 22, which gave Broughton Park the opportunity to score first with a good move from their scrum half out to his backs and squeezed past the Oswestry defence to score in the corner with a conversion for 7-0.
The Eagles now attacked with superb offloading rucking and mauling, showing the Manchester men this wasn’t going to be an easy match for them. Again and again they picked up and drove forcing a penalty close to the 22 mark which gave Lou Mackenzie a chance to kick three points and convert which he did, bringing the Eagles back in the game for 7-3.
In frustration Broughton received a yellow card for a high tackle and Oswestry gained the upper hand with dazzling play from all the team and great play from Merrett driving through the Park defence who were now arguing among themselves, not used to being in that position. Massy showed considerable skills in his play supported by Owen Youens with excellent running forcing the visitors to retreat and reorganise.
From the play and with all his wealth of experience, Merrett broke a hole in the Park defence supported by his pack, Massy and the backs and scored a great try against Park who where now reeling against the Oswestry team. Mackenzie converted this one for 10-7 to the Eagles.
As play switched from end to end both teams were playing exciting rugby and another penalty given away by Park saw Mackenzie slot another three points to put Eagles ahead 13-7.
But the visitors now pressed Oswestry for advantage to get back into this game. Smith urged his men to stick to the game plan but again under pressure a penalty was given away close to the Oswestry tryline and Park drove over the line with a great maul scoring and converting to take the lead 14-13.
Oswestry gained in confidence and attacked Park with ferocious intent, skill and team pride saw just before half-time, as Mackenzie shot the ball out to Merret, Massy fooled the Park defence with a smart move to the line, Jamie Luckett was back in the team proving his place by supporting with great power and running, which gave Massy the chance to continue his run to the line and score near the posts. A great try and a conversion which saw Oswestry leading as the whistle blew 20-14.
In the second half Massy was forced off with an injury, and Booth was sent off for a suspected infringement, and the result saw the Eagles struggle. Coach Dan Samuels adjusted his team to try and stop the determined attack from the visitors, who were now bringing in their considerable experience in the league having defeated most of the big guns.
They ran in five tries and used their strength to change tactics with their pack strength and fitness scoring three push over tries from penalties given away from the Eagles, who were unable to build on their 20 points.
However, the fitness of Park brought an end to the game with a win and a hope for promotion, but with five games left it will go to the wire.
n Oswestry now face Bowden at home this weekend with a 3pm kick-off.