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Ruskin Park 10 - Didsbury Toc H 17
Lancashire Plate holders Didsbury Toc H began their serious competitive
2010/11 season by defending their title in a 1st round tie against St
Helens based Ruskin Park. The teams have met several times in this
competition offer the years, but it was Didsbury who came away with the
spoils coming from behind to win 10-17.

Toc H named a mixed side, partly due to unavailability during the bank
holiday weekend and giving an opportunity to other players to put down
an early marker for the coming season. Veteran prop Steve McDonough
started in an unaccustomed role of flanker, and Bahamian 7s
international Perkins Joseph made his first start for the club on the
wing.

The match was played in fine conditions apart from the very strong wind,
which was to prove to be a vital element of the game. Ruskin Park
started with the use of the wind in the first half and bombarded the
visitors with some early pressure. The home side used their runners to
good effect and Didsbury needed to defend manfully to keep out an early
score. Didsbury stuck to their plan of having to run the ball from all
areas of the park, due to clearance kicks not being an option. The home
side, buoyed by a healthy bank holiday crowd, continued to pressurise
the Didsbury defence and when a the ball was turned over by Park in Toc
H territory they scored the first try. The conversion was missed.
Didsbury started to get a foothold in the match and started to make
ground into the Ruskin Park half. Several Didsbury attacking lineouts
were thwarted by the home sides stubborn defence, and Ruskin Park
doubled their try tally with a break away from their own half. Again the
conversion was missed. The score remained 10-0 until the halftime
whistle.

Didsbury knew they now had use of the wind and started to up their game,
with clever tactical kicking from Gaz Oakley and fullback Joe Bradbury
stretching the home team's defence. The visiting pack was now taking the
ball on and sucking in the defence, recycling the ball for scrum half
Oakley to orchestrate play. Early in the second half a series of forward
drives sucked in defenders and when Didsbury moved the ball right pacey
second row Phil Cooper forced his way over to touch down. Bradbury
expertly slotted the conversion, and the comeback had started 10-7.
Perkins Joseph made his presence felt with some excellent breaks down
the touchline, and from one such break he scored his debut try racing in
to score. Bradbury missed the tricky kick, but Didsbury had taken the
lead 10-12. The home side mustered a limited number of attacks in the
second period, but resolute tackling from Hyde, McDonough, Williams and
Bradbury kept the line intact. Didsbury again drove up the middle of the
home side's defence, creating space out wide for Tom Rooney to score the
decisive winning try. Ruskin Park piled forward and were close to
scoring, but Didsbury's impressive defence held out for a deserved
three-tries-to-two victory.

Both teams will take a lot from the encounter and use the game as a
springboard into the start of the league campaign. Didsbury visit De La
Salle next Saturday, a tie which sees both promoted teams from the last
campaign face each other in the higher league of North Lancs & Cumbria.

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