DEPLETED Knutsford rugby team suffered a heavy defeat on Didsbury Toc H’s 4G pitch on Saturday.

The artificial surface meant no standing rain water – as has been the trend across the country – but with seven regular starters missing Blues faced a challenging afternoon.

Knutsford, who went on to lose 46-0, actually started the stronger of the two sides, getting into their patterns early, driving short around the breakdown across the pitch and working back from side to side as they probed strongly into the Toc H defensive line.

After five solid phases, fly-half James Docherty broke through but was tackled and the lack of support meant Didsbury could recover.

This was the tale of the half, as the rain started to fall heavily. Repeated Knutsford pressure was met with strong defence and Didsbury hit on the counter through their backs out wide, scoring three tries.

Time and again, repeated carries from Kieren Southern and Liam Boyle were absorbed, Knutsford’s backs out wide were carving shapes and strong lines but each time just lacked the final clinical ability to finish.

Chris Isherwood had a great chance in the corner scuppered by a last-minute try saving tackle. Full-back Jim Southall, who had a fantastic positional display, was thwarted five metres out and captain Sam Bensky was unable to capitalise on a well judged kick from Docherty.

Knutsford lost stalwarts Ollie Mooney and Dan Jones at number 9 and prop, respectively, to injury which added to the frustrations.

The changes brought Sam Cook, Gareth and Russ Finn on to the field and with Iain Morris and Cook in the centres a bit more width could be explored, which saw some nearly moments in the second half for the visitors.

Line breaks became more frequent but again the finishing touch was lacking and the finesse to finish off any significant ball carrying was made all the more difficult by the conditions.

Even a Sam Kemp cameo couldn’t dent the Toc H defence and Knutsford ended the game unable to cross the whitewash against the surprisingly strong Toc H seconds side.