Colne and Nelson 26, Old Grindello Lions 0

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COLNE hosted a touring team from Holland on Saturday in a friendly match.

The opposition were looking to make it 15 wins out of 15 as they had not been beaten all season and stand top of their respective league.

With the weather staying fine but cold, Colne were hoping to entertain the capacity crowd with their open, expansive running rugby.

The Lions started off like a team that was on top form, and after a succession of penalties by Colne, they had moved their way down field into a scoring position, which they almost did with a penalty in front of the posts.

This miss so early in the game gave Colne a wake-up call.

Colne now started play some rugby, and the reshuffled back line started to find space in the opposition backs.

Some elusive running from Adam Waggstaff, who was making his long-awaited return after a nose reconstruction operation, brought Colne into the opposition’s territory, and constant pressure from Colne forced them into making mistakes, with one such mistake leading to a penalty which was put just wide by Waggstaff.

But it showed the Lions that Colne were there to play as well.

The home team now knew that if they kept the ball alive and moved it around in the backs they could win this game. After 20 minutes had elapsed, Colne’s backs used a move they had worked hard on the training ground, and it worked like a charm, putting Adam Davies in space.

He was tackled but kept his legs pumping, and with quick support from Aaron Denton and Howard Wick, the ball was recycled and moved out wide through several pairs of hands backs and forwards to reach Waggstaff on the wing, who powered over his opposite number to score in the corner.

The try converted by Waggstaff himself.

Colne kept applying pressure and the opposition were hardly able to get out of their own half.

The one time they did look like scoring was when Patrick Smith, who was on another one of his barnstorming runs, was tackled hig,h and the Colne players stopped, thinking the referee had seen it, but he didn’t, and only a great chase back by Lewis Heskith stopped their man mountain of a centre scoring.

With the first half coming to a close, Colne went on one more attack, and following a scrum won against the head, number eight Smith picked up and drove straight at the Lions standoff, and quick ruck ball and a clever flick pass back inside from Callum Kinnane to Jordan Sunderland saw him score under the posts, with the conversion added by Waggstaff.

The half-time whistle went with the All Blacks 14-0 up.

From the restart, the slight breeze was now in Colne’s favour.

They started the second half as they finished the first by applying pressure on the opposition, forcing them to kick or to drop the ball.

With the forwards dominating the line outs and scrums, it was only a matter of time before they wore down the opposition.

Smith and Davies were taking all of Colne’s line out ball and disrupting the opposition’s.

The Grindello Lions were finding it hard to get any momentum in the game, and the power of Mark Stevens and Adam Padgett in the scrum gave them no respite.

The next try was coming - it was just a matter of who and when.

Then a poor kick by the opposition scrum half was gathered by new centre Luke Edwards, who dummied then placed a clever chip over the top, which he regathered, and a quick pass saw the ball moved down the backs line, and Lee Hird came in at pace to draw the last man and release Kinnane to score a superb try in the corner.

Waggstaff was just wide with the conversion.

With Colne now on the front foot, it was time to make a change, with blindside flanker Davies making way for the powerful young exciting Max Pratt, who was making his first team debut.

Colne now started to use Pratt’s considerable size to bash their way past the Lions, which was starting to work.

With Denton using his experience, he was able to move the forwards to where they should be.

The next score came from a line out on Grindello’s 22 metre line, as Howard Wick leapt like a salmon to pluck the ball out of the opposition’s hands, and a well-controlled maul saw Colne’s forwards work their way towards the try line.

Padgett had the first attempt to get the ball down, but was inches short then the ever-present Wood picked up and almost got the ball down to score.

Colne did not panic and moved the ball away from the forwards, which produced a gap, and Denton slipped through to score, Converted by Waggstaff.

The All Blacks, now four tries up, went on the rampage looking for more, and only excellent defence kept Colne from scoring.

With 10 minutes left, Colne made their final substitutions, taking off Howard Wick and replacing him with Jack Wiper for his long-awaited return.

Wiper was like a man on a mission, hoping to prove he should be in the starting XV, and he went straight into the action, carrying the ball straight into the opposition.

With only minutes remaining, Colne started another attack, and with good running from Pratt and support from Heskith, they set up a maul in the opposition half.

And as they drove closer to the try line, Wiper rounded off an excellent cameo performance by powering his way through to score what he thought was a well-earned try, only to realise he had dived over the five yard line!

With time running out, the Grindello Lions launched one final attack, and after some good continuity found them selves with a scrum 10 metres from Colne’s line.

Their huge number eight picked up and started to power towards Colne’s try line, swatting off two or three would-be tacklers, and was in the process of falling over to ground the ball when, out of nowhere Wood some how managed to get himself between the ball and the ground to stop him scoring.

That meant more to him than if he had scored a try himself!

When the final whistle went, Colne had won a tough game against a good team, and all is looking well for the remaining league games.

Now Colne have all their injured players back and have strength in depth, players will have to keep training to keep their place.