Midlands 1 West

Longton 12

Whitchurch 37

Head coach Scott Sturdy hopes the Reds’ emphatic 37-12 win at Longton will provide the springboard for Whitchurch to consolidate their position in the top half of the Midlands 1 West.

The Reds ran in seven tries against their Staffordshire hosts to move up to seventh in the table, and now have 11 points from their first four outings.

After sentencing Longton to a fourth straight defeat, Sturdy is looking for more of the same in Saturday’s home tussle with Malvern who also lie in the lower reaches of the table.

“It was a pleasing performance, particularly as we had a number of players missing, but we now need to back it up with a win against Malvern, and build some momentum

“Our aim is to stay in the league, but ideally we would like to finish seventh or higher, so it’s so important to get points on the board early on.

“Potentially it could have been four wins out of four so far, but the difference at this level is that when you make a mistake or a poor decision, then you get punished.

“We will work hard in training this week as there are still things we need to put right, and hopefully put out a competitive side on Saturday.”

Sturdy was particularly heartened by last weekend’s performance as some of the side were playing out of position due to unavailability.

The Reds ran in seven tries but, without an established kicker, failed to add any conversions apart from a penalty try.

“We dominated from start to finish, and the scoreline flattered them as we didn’t get any kicks,” added Sturdy.

“It’s important to start well when we go away from home and put points on the board early on.

“We did that on Saturday, and to get seven tries was all the more impressive as we had a ‘mix and match’ side.

“September is always a difficult month with availability of players, but hopefully it will settle down next month.”

Forwards Tom Hollins and Jack Furnival are set to return to duty on Saturday, fly half Ryan Horton also steps back, but prop Tom Hale and second row Matt Owen are missing.

Playing down a significant slope in the first half against Longton, the Reds were soon in their stride as hooker Darren Blackhurst drove over for the opening score.

That advantage was quickly doubled as fullback Matt Davies crossed in the corner and, despite the hosts responding with an unconverted try, fleet footed scrum half Joe Mullock restored the 10-point advantage.

With the Reds forwards dominating the line-out and scrum, the bonus point was sealed when No8 Ian Gillespie touched down for a fourth try.

The pack then flexed their muscles just before half time as they drove the Longton scrum back from their own 22 onto their line, with the hosts forced into conceding a penalty try.

With the visitors leading 27-5 at the break, the encounter often became a scrappy, midfield battle in the second half.

Although there were fewer chances, Longton responded with a well-worked converted try to reduce the arrears to 27-12 as they looked to capitalise on having the slope in their favour.

But the Reds rejigged, with Jimmy Hockenhull returning to his more accustomed position of flanker after starting on the wing, while young winger Daniel Hunt came on for his first taste of senior action.

And the visitors finished well, with second row Matt Owen rounding the defence to score after some good link-up play among the forwards, before loose head prop Steve Bloore capped an impressive display by powering his way through the home defence to wrap up the scoring in the closing stages.

n Whitchurch Seconds leaped out of the basement in the Sale Sharks North West Division 2 south after securing their first win with an 80-16 romp against their New Brighton counterparts.

They are away to Holmes Chapel on Saturday.

The third team forfeited their clash at Winnington Park Thirds in the Howell and Co North West Division 4 south after failing to raise a side. This weekend, they are due to entertain Leek.

Meanwhile, Whitchurch under-18 Colts were left kicking their heels in the Halbro North West Senior Colts League C as scheduled opponents Fylde forfeited their fixture.

Now lying fourth in the table, the young Reds are due to entertain Winnington Park Colts on Sunday.