Last-gasp victory eases Ionians' drop fears
HULL Ionians squeezed home 22-19 at Stockport to earn more points in their bid to avoid relegation from National Two North.
However, they left it late, only securing victory with an injury-time Mark Wigham try and Glenn Boyd conversion.
It was a good fightback in a tough forward battle in which Stockport had the edge in the loose but Ionians were stronger in the line-out and scrums, taking three strikes against the head at crucial times.
Stockport controlled most of the possession for the first quarter but Ionians kept pushing them back.
Turnover ball gave one attacking chance and a penalty under the posts saw Boyd take the three points.
Having contained Stockport for 20 minutes Ionians attacked for the second time and a kick-through brought an attacking five-metre scrum and they made it count.
The forwards drove strongly and Joe Sanders peeled off and dived over to score.
Straight from the restart Ionians' mistakes cost them dearly.
The ball was knocked on and quick strike at the scrum released full-back Mike Barlow to score in the corner.
Ionians then lost the ball in midfield allowing Josh Longmore to race clear, but he was tackled five metres short. Pressure was maintained and lock Dave Marwick scored under the posts giving Longmore an easy conversion.
After the break a scuffle after the whistle brought a yellow card for each team and both sides scored.
Stockport crossed first with recycled possession releasing scrum-half Mike Baysatt, Longmore converting.
A penalty set up an attacking line-out for Ionians' pack to hit back, driving over for Sanders to score again, Boyd adding the conversion to leave Stockport leading just 19-15 and all to play for.
Solid defences by both teams gave nothing away until injury-time approached and a neat pass from Rob Kench put Boyd into space for a 40 run to hit the full-back just five metres short.
Not releasing the tackle brought a yellow card for Stockport and an attacking line-out for Ionians.
Joe Makin took the ball cleanly and the pack drove then released Wigham to dive through a tackle three metres out and stretch out for the match-winning try, again converted by Boyd.
Post match celebrations were muted when it was learned that, against the odds, Harrogate, Leicester Lions and Nuneaton beneath them also won so league safety, although probable, is still not guaranteed.