Next Saturday's Play-off, Here We Come! - Report by Geoff Smith
Anselmians travelled away to Leigh for this last league match of the season knowing that a win would guarantee them second place in the league and a play-off game against Aspatria for promotion to North 1 West .
The Anselmian away supporters were bolstered by the presence of M'a Nonu, the former All black centre now at Toulon and Pale Nonu the player coach at Redruth who had come to watch their younger brother Tulima who plays back row for Anselmians in this critical match.
Anselmians forwards were on top right from the start and the signs were ominous for Leigh when, only two minutes in to the game, at their first scrum on their own ball they were pushed back and forced into conceding a penalty. The Anselmian pack were also dominant in open play with surging runs over the game line and a back row that was consistently first to the ball at the breakdown.
On seven minutes this pressure produced the first kickable penalty for Anselmians and Taylor duly obliged giving Saints the lead o – 3. However on ten minutes Leigh showed that Anselmians could not take victory for granted when they took their own penalty opportunity from 40 metres out to level the score. Despite having the majority of the possession Anselmian failed to make it count with their backs showing a degree of anxiety that caused them to make errors at several try scoring opportunities.
It was soon evident that Leigh possessed several players that could kick well and intelligently both to clear their lines and to set up attacking positions in the Anselmian half and it was this ability that kept them in the game. Another penalty from Taylor had given Anselmians a 3 – 6 but on 25 minutes Leigh kicked over the Anselmian defensive line into the goal area and with their backs descending on the ball the referee awarded a penalty try and a yellow card against Anselmians Russell for deliberately knocking the ball into touch. 10 – 6 to Leigh.
On 38 mins after Leigh had conceded penalties yet again at the scrums, a quick tap from Anselmian scrum half Southern and an off load to hooker Scott Southwell, took them into the Leigh 5 metre area for Russell to crash over and with Taylor converting Anselmian now had the lead 10 – 13. It should have been the last score of the first period but the Leigh Stand off from his own half elected to cross kick deep into open space in the Anselmians 22. Leigh reacted quickest and took possession and went over under the posts and with the conversion they went into the break with a 17 – 13 lead.
Anselmians started the second half with purpose and on 47 mins a long pass from saddler was gathered expertly by Hough out on the left wing that raced over the line and the conversion meant Anselmians were back in the lead 17 – 20. Anselmians were now showing more composure with the ball and with Leigh tiring further Anselmian scores looked inevitable. On 53 minutes another Taylor penalty made the score 17 – 23 and then on 66 minutes Lamming capped an excellent performance for Anselmians when he crashed over for their third try. The conversion meant Anselmians now lead 17 – 30. On 74 minutes another strong run from Hough on the left wing saw him cut inside before feeding Scott Southwell who then fed Taylor for him to go over in the corner. The conversion was missed so the score moved to 17 – 35.
Credit to Leigh, they continued to battle and in the last minute of the game, a quick tap penalty took advantage of an Anselmian side that had already began to think of that play-off game and Leigh went over for a converted try to make the final score 24 – 35.