Firwood Waterloo 37 Anselmians 6
By The Saint
A false dawn.
Anselmians, confidence renewed after their well-deserved victory against Manchester a fortnight, travelled to The Memorial Ground in Blundellsands to play a Waterloo side that has lost its way a little recently, having only won one of their last eight games. Spectators who watched Saints’ first win in North One West against the hosts last October travelled in the hope of witnessing more of the same. It was not to be.
Anselmians started brightly enough. From the kick-off they went through several phases and slowly inched their way into the Waterloo half. Their reward for such pressure was a penalty in front of the posts and stand-off, Liam Isaacs, made no mistake giving the Saints a lead within two minutes.
Waterloo’s response was immediate. Full-back Darragh O’Brien, attempted a drop goal but the referee had awarded a penalty and the full- back made no mistake to level the scores at 3-3. Waterloo produced some sweeping back moves adding giant prop, Kurt Riley, into the mix but the Anselmian defence held firm. The home side’s only reward was a second penalty which O’Brien duly converted.
Both sides attempted to spread the ball wide but resolute defence meant no further score. Saints’ winger Paul Sellwood was injured and replaced by Josh Stead and shortly afterwards Isaacs accepted another penalty chance to level the scores at 6-6 after twenty minutes.
Waterloo attacked using their lively wingers, but Anselmian defence was secure. A break by O’Brien was stopped by centre Charlie Hough, but the centre departed soon afterwards replaced by Ewan Nolan. Waterloo were seeing more of the ball and were aided by Anselmian handling errors as half-time approached. Three minutes before the break, with honours thus far even, Waterloo produced a slick movement and engineered a two on one overlap to allow winger Lee Ferrier to cross unopposed. The conversion grazed the right hand post, but at the break Waterloo led 11-6.
Anselmians have a reputation for raising their game in the second half, and many supporters still entertained thoughts of victory. Their last fixture saw them outscore Manchester 10-0 in the second half, but now it was their turn to be scoreless in the last forty minutes.
Waterloo gained confidence after the break and, three minutes in, contrived to release Ferrier who scampered over on the right hand touchline for his second try. The difficult conversion was narrowly missed by O’Brien, but Waterloo had a deserved 16-6 lead.
Anselmians were busy in their responses, with Isaacs, full-back Andy Cummings and, more visibly, centre Sam Russell, trying to initiate counter attacks but Waterloo were the more assured side. Anselmians’ early season faults now returned. Lacking a cutting edge, they spilled passes and made little progress against a determined Waterloo.
Waterloo’s tackling was secure and Anselmians began to lose the loose ball. It was no surprise that a break by lock Connor Scriven, aided by some weak tackling, led to the hosts’ third try. The speedy flanker timed his pass to perfection and O’Brien scored under the posts. The full-back’s simple conversion meant Waterloo led 23-6.
Saints tried to engage the opposition, but misfired. There was no lack of effort, especially from Russell who seemed to be involved in every move, but all Anselmians tried seemed to end in a dropped pass or a covering tackle. A promising attack by Waterloo ended with an impressive forward maul driving over the line, to give Waterloo their fourth try, credited to Josh Jenkins, and a bonus point. Again O’Brien goaled and, at 30-6, the game was over as a contest.
Prompted by a hard-working back row, Anselmians never gave up, but Waterloo were a better side and out thought the visitors who lacked co-ordination and imagination. A neat break by captain Jack Weare released Jacob Allen and the winger outpaced the Saints’ cover to cut in field and score a fine try under the visitors’ posts. The conversion by O’Brien was a formality and Anselmians, after their heroics a fortnight ago, had been given a brutal reality check. Anselmians’ best move in the last play involved Nathan Ainsworth who was stopped close to the line, but, at 37-6, the promise evident two weeks ago was apparently illusory.