A battling performance from Toc H saw them edge out Aldwinians for a second time this season in demanding conditions at Audenshaw Park
Driving rain, icy winds and a heavy pitch made it borderline impossible to play the open game that both these teams prefer. But that didn’t stop Toc’s back three from trying – often foolishly - before quickly realising that chucking 30 metre passes around in their own half was not the way to go. This was always going to be a low-scoring day and Toc’s focus was on keeping the ball tight and kicking - a lot. In fact, Didsbury kicked the ball more in this game than they have in the rest of the season put together.
It felt as if both teams were just as happy without the ball as they were with it. Toc’s pack adapted better in the first half; Aldwinians adapted better in the second. The difference, in the end, was a first-half try from Toc’s superb captain Harry Rigby. He crossed in the early part of the game after a sustained period of pressure on the home side’s line. At that stage it was still possible to see the colours and numbers on the players’ shirts. Twenty minutes later they were barely visible and by the end of the game it looked as if there were 30 clones running around in a maddening, muddy mess.
Flanker James Plested, MMU’s finest, summed it up neatly: “That is easily the worst game of rugby I’ve ever played.”
His day was made no better by receiving a yellow card in the second half as Toc were put under pressure by a busy and hard-working Winnies’ pack. But the team always looked solid defensively and they did some excellent work at the breakdown which, frustratingly, went unrewarded.
Rigby’s solitary score helped Toc to an 11-3 lead after about 15 minutes, adding to two penalties from full-back Rory Gibson. As the weather worsened and conditions became even trickier, it became abundantly clear that the try was massive. Although Toc struggled for territory in the second half they were largely dominant at the set-piece – especially the scrum – so won plenty of ball. Eventually they managed to get a foothold in the Winnies’ half and played most of the last period between 50 and 60 metres from their own line. The win makes it five games unbeaten for Toc in the ADM Premier and sees them rise to second in the division, one point behind the leaders Oldham whom they play next weekend (December 15th).
There will be a social media blackout ahead of that game.
That game will be played at MMU, 2.15ko. All support welcome.