Garstang Blues 30-17 Vale of Lune 3rds | Match Report

Garstang Blues come out on top in must-win clash 

With Vale of Lune 3rds running away with the league, the second-placed hosts knew that they needed a win to keep in contention for one of the top two promotion slots.

The game was a pulsating contest that ebbed and flowed before the Blues sealed the win late in the day.

The early exchanges were hugely physical, with Vale’s heavy, experienced forwards carrying really strongly. However, Garstang’s defence was resolute, and it wasn’t until the 20th minute that Vale could get on the scoreboard as they slotted a penalty over to take a three-point lead.

Shortly afterwards the Blues introduced Own Bendall to the fray, on a rare appearance for the club; on as he was on a home visit from university, and he made a dramatic impact.  

A few minutes after his introduction he received the ball in a wide channel in his own half and outstripped his opposite number before outpacing the cover defence to score in the corner (5-3).

A couple of minutes later things were improved as winger Jordan Paton scored a similar-looking try as he went in from 40 metres to extend the lead to 10-3. 

Just before the half-time break, Bendall put the home team in dreamland as he scored his second under the posts which was improved upon with the conversion by Paul Brown to send the Blues into the break with a 17-3 lead.

At half-time, the Blues probably thought that they had done enough having run the legs out of the big heavy Vale ball carriers. But in the second, Vale showed why they are at the top of the league as they staged a gutsy fight back.  

Just a few minutes in the ball was moved out wide to their rangy winger and he scored a try similar to Garstang’s first two as he went in from halfway to score under the posts.

At 17-10, it was game back on, but the Blues kept themselves in calm waters as Paul Brown slotted over a penalty from the under the sticks to keep Garstang two scores ahead at 20-10.

Vale came straight back though, and on 65 minutes they scored another try under the posts to set up a barnstorming finish with just three points separating the sides (20-17).

Garstang didn’t panic though, and a few minutes later they showed their quality with a score that was a thing of beauty. 

The Blues had a set piece in midfield and when the ball came out to Paul Brown he popped a sublime ‘no look’ pass inside to Owen Bendall before he carved through the defence to score in the corner. It looked like a try that was created by hours on the training pitch, but it was conjured up and conceived by a whisper in the ear seconds before the scrummage! (25-17)

With a two-score lead, it looked like job done, but Bendall put the icing on the cake with another try in the last minute as he danced round the defence to score his fourth of the afternoon to finish the job and give Garstang a 30-17 win.

The win moves Garstang to within 10  points of Vale but with two games in hand. With fibe points for a win, it is very much game on in the race for promotion.

Despite the fact that Owen Bendall made such an impact with 4 tries, he remarkably didn’t win the Man of the Match award. That honour went to Will Parkinson, who can only be described as a ‘machine’.  

On only his second appearance since a serious knee injury, he came on and put in a fearless performance with some huge hits and carries and started to show the sort of form that will see him elevated back to the 1st XV sometime soon.

This Saturday the 1st XV have no game and the Blues are away against Preston Grasshoppers 6ths, KO 14:15.

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