North One West: Altrincham Kersal 27-27 Glossop
Having not played a competitive fixture since March 2020, Glossop headed to Altrincham Kersal in their first outing of the 2021/22 campaign following promotion to North 1 West.
This was always going to be a tough welcome to level 6 rugby, with their Cheshire opponents having missed out on promotion to level 5 by a single point last season.
The match didn’t disappoint, with good attacking rugby on display accompanied by some impressive defensive work from both teams.
The team travelled in a confident mood, with a strong squad selected and having prepared well in recent weeks.
The visitors started strongly, and a well finished try out wide for Max Horsfall was excellently converted by Rob Sonczak to put Glossop ahead 0-7. Sonczak added a penalty soon after to increase the lead to 0-10, but Altrincham showed their clinical edge when they scampered down an unguarded blind side for a try of their own to reduce the Glossop lead to 5- 10.
Another Rob Sonczak penalty stretched the Glossop lead yet again but a rejuvenated home team finished the first half strongly with a further try which was converted and so at half time Glossop were disappointed to only hold a slender one point lead.
Half time: AK 12-13 Glossop
In the second half, Kersal took the lead for the first time with an opportunistic try when an overthrown line-out from the home team was pounced on close to the Glossop line for a gift-wrapped five points.
A brilliant solo effort from Glossop fly half Alex Hughes, who was making his league debut for the Hillmen, saw Glossop retake the lead at 17- 20 heading into the final quarter but Kersal rallied and a strong forward drive, which was converted, pushed them ahead 24-20.
Things got worse for Glossop when Altrincham landed a great long range penalty and edged further ahead. Glossop trailed 27-20 heading into the final five minutes.
Sustained pressure from the Glossop forwards forced a yellow card for the home captain in the final minute and with a numerical advantage in forwards, Glossop opted for a scrum. The extra man proved decisive as the Glossop pack shoved the home forwards back over their try line whereupon No 8, David Stanley capped a fine performance when he dotted down from the base of the scrum. Sonczak made no mistake with the conversion, and both teams had to settle for a hard fought draw.
Despite only salvaging a late draw, there were plenty of positives for Glossop to take from this opening performance, not least impressive league debuts for Callum Baines, Kieran Wain, Alex Hughes and Elliott Caine. Conversely, the Glossop management team will be keeping a close eye on apparent long term injuries picked up by Adam Mallinson and Jake Gibson.
Next week Firwood Waterloo make the trip to Hargate Hill. They will no doubt be looking to build on an impressive opening day victory over Manchester.