April 7, 2014
KESWICK SCHOOL RUGBY.
Keswick School under-13s reach County Cup Final.
Poor weather between Christmas and half term meant that loads of School matches did not get played and this included important County Cup games. Keswick School under-13s resumed a successful campaign with a 29 points- 28 semi-final victory at Netherhall School on Monday but because of the need to return to the schedule then had to play the competition final only 2 days later. This was a far from satisfactory situation but one which Keswick School accepted without demur.
Keswickâ€™s semi-final performance at Netherhall was a high scoring end to end battle well refereed by Trevor Richardson of the RFU. The lead changed hands five times and at the end Keswick were â€˜hanging onâ€™ desperately. Keswick took the lead with a try by flanker Levi Wakelin Groves, but this was immediately cancelled by a try by Netherhall. The try exposed Keswick defensively clearly identifying a need to â€˜move-upâ€™ more quickly against hard running opponents attracted by gaps and unlikely to be stopped by half tackles. Keswick had a good spell where their offload game stretched Netherhall and after good work by skipper Will Addyman, centre Marco Wong and flanker Owen Harris strongman centre Sam Cameron blasted over the line to score. Netherhall came back immediately, Keswickâ€™s tackling, which had improved, still failed to stop the flow of the ball and Netherhall re-gained the lead with their second converted try.
Keswick played a superb third quarter during which time they ran and handled with supreme confidence and scored three times through Wong twice, and lock Joel Fidoe. Wongâ€™s tries came from moves initiated by stand-off Jack Gascoigne, which confirmed the merits of the early pass and avoidance of unnecessary contact, but in both instances Wongâ€™s special brand of hard running aggression was required to finally get him over the line. When there was contact Keswick supported the ball carrier well and made particularly significant progress at breakdowns where they were required to ruck. During their period of ascendency Addyman and Cameron were Keswickâ€™s principal ball carriers and there was good support from Harris, Conor Worth and Chris Graham. Keswick scrum half Billy Thompson was always perfectly placed to get the pass away quickly and his service to stand off Jack Gascoigne was one hundred per cent accurate.
Assuming the game to be won Keswick appeared to relax and particularly after the removal through injury of Wong, found themselves under siege for all of the final 5 minutes of the match. During this time Keswick were outfoxed and out manoeuvred by the very style of upright â€˜offloadâ€™ rugby which had put them in such a commanding position and with two converted tries Netherhall closed the gap to only one point. It was time to hang on and start making front foot tackles which would curtail Netherhallâ€™s momentum. In the last frantic action of the match Addyman, Cameron and Wakelin- Groves made big hits which helped win back the ball and Gascoigne found safe ground with a huge boot up field. Keswick chased the ball and when they retained possession inside the Netherhall â€˜22â€™ nearly scored a sixth try through Harris.
Wednesdayâ€™s County Schoolsâ€™ Cup final took place at Penrith Rugby Club against Ullswater School who are particularly strong this season at under-13 level. From the start of the match Ullswater dominated possession and with strong efficient units and some very gifted individuals took the game to Keswick. Keswick Schoolâ€™s cause was boosted by some strong tackling by the restored Alex Bland, Levi Wakelin Groves, Matty Newton and Billy Thompson which stopped Ullswaterâ€™s potential strike runners, but was not helped by an early injury to tackle- meister centre Sam Cameron. Cameron cut his ear making a typically strong tackle and had to leave the field. Cameronâ€™s influence was missed immediately and with two strong centres working in tandem Ullswater exploited the opportunity. Starved of possession Keswick tried to move slow ball wide and Ullswater were ever ready in defence. Under pressure at the set scrum Keswick were beaten to the strike and consequently became so starved of possession that eventually their defensive resolve was broken. From balls lost at the scrum, and ever more so, in contact, Ullswater scored two tries by direct running through Keswickâ€™s exposed midfield, and then, after a brief Keswick challenge highlighted by breaks by Gascoigne, Will Addyman and winger Oliver Clark they scored a third try which was converted.
It was probably the case that Keswick accepted their place in a one sided contest but in no way did this diminish their fighting spirit.Â Keswick made seven â€˜like for likeâ€™ changes at half time but were immediately under the cosh at the wrong end of the pitch. The problems encountered in the first half were duplicated and within 5 minutes of the resumption re-charged Ullswater had added to their lead. Still, there was no shortage of guts from Keswick best exemplified by stand-in prop forward Owen Harris and stand-off Gascoigne who remained positive in everything they did and created the opening for Keswickâ€™s best spell of pressure. For five minutes Keswick battered Ullswater close to their try line and surges by Ben Hammond, Harris, Addyman, the remorselessly gutsy James Spedding and Marco Wong would have ended in tries against a less formidable defence. On the other wing Robert Hughes looked as if he might break free but a well-executed smother tackle not only terminated the opportunity but created an opening for Ullswater counter attack.
Keswick never accepted that they were destined not to score but Ullswater were equally committed to the preservation of a clean sheet. Keswick concede two more tries before the end of the match, additions which were to Ullswaterâ€™s credit rather than detrimental reflections on Keswickâ€™s admirable performance.
T6he final score was Ullswater School 34 points- Keswick School 0.
ALLERDALE PRIMARY SCHOOL TAG.
For years Keswick have entered a combined Keswick Primary Schools side in this competition, an inclusive, sporting gesture which creates a rush of bonhomie, but so far no titles. This year the party which travelled to Netherhall Schoolâ€™s all weather facility was composed of 4 players from Bassenthwaite School, 2 from St Herbertâ€™s, one from Threlkeld and three from Braithwaite. Year 6 bonding is built on exchanged smiles but not much crack; -, best team â€“ building progress was achieved in the warm up led with soothing empathy by Keswick School coaches Ceri Storer and Bethan Lloyd.
Keswick began fast but unsuccessfully against Richmond Hill School who passed well and got away with endless post tag â€˜travellingâ€™. Keswick found out in their second match against Fairfield School that this practice was common and that referees were allowing offenders to â€˜travelâ€™ scot-free of penalty. Keswick were being too honest and paid the price with successive 3 tries -6 defeats.
Keswickâ€™s inter match activity was all about fair rotation
and discussions concerned with improving performance. The discussions worked, — during the early stages of match three the team seemed more relaxed and with the Bassenthwaite boys finding form and supporting each other for the good of the team, mastery of the pre-contact pass was clearly evident and Keswick edged a classic close encounter against Thomlinson School 7 tries to 6.
Keswick fell so far behind in the first half of match 4 against Ewanrigg School that even the return of the Bassenthwaite flyers after the break could not prevent a 3 tries-6 defeat.
Keswick decided to save best for last and in a pulsating final match, with the Bassenthwaite boys on fire, Keswick achieved their best result of the day, – a 7 tries -4 defeat of Silloth School.
Keswick finished 4th in the table and therefore qualify for the advanced tag competition scheduled to take place at Cockermouth RFC on 21st March. Some training sessions prior to the event will help Keswick achieve their true potential.
CUMBRIAN NORTH LANCASHIRE LEAGUE.
KESWICK 23 points â€“ LITTLEBOROUGH 12.
The sideâ€™s shared a desperate plight with relegation an even closer certainty for whoever lost. There could be no distraction, but both sides wanted similarly afflicted Fleetwood to lose their match at Hawcoat Park and were also interested in the fates of Whitehaven (at Blackburn) and Tarleton who were visiting St Benedictâ€™s.
With two matches of the season to go the possibilities that will determine relegation are numerous; any two of five clubs at the bottom of the Cumbrian North Lancashire League table could experience the ignominy of demotion and become irretrievable alongside Workington. The battle could go on until the final round of matches on 12th April and with a lot at stake Keswick visit Fleetwood this Saturday.
Playing against a noticeable gusty wind, Littleborough hogged the ball for the first 10 minutes of the match, passed nicely along their threequarter line, but did so without any significant penetrations. The ease with which Littleboroughâ€™s attacks were defended helped further calm Keswick who with their first claim of set piece ball made ground through Tom Partington and Matty Roper. The first time Keswick built phases inside the Littleborough half there was 12 minutes on the clock, Littleborough struggled to supress the build-up of pressure and when an advantage failed to materialise Keswick were awarded a penalty. Paul Irelandâ€™s 40 metre effort was perfectly struck and gave Keswick a 3 point lead.
Keswick suddenly came alive and with Roper demanding maximum effort from the team hard yards were achieved in the inside left channel first by Karl Smyth and then Carrick Wharmby. Keswick claimed decent lineout ball through Tom Garner and Karl Smyth and achieved repeated quick ball going forward. With possession after a forwards rush Jamie McKenzie made the first of a series of worthwhile charges and Littleborough were back-footed. Mike Bunting was next to run and from his inside pass there was a scrap for possession involving hard hitting elements from both packs. A Littleborough forward was singled out by the referee for illegal use of the boot and was sent to the sin bin. This gave Keswick a chance to build pressure and with a mix of determined blasts at the edge and wide plays involving Ireland, Robert Bland, fullback Andy Wallace and Bruce Rigby Keswick began to create genuine try scoring chances. Littleborough defended well at the last ditch and Keswick were guilty of holding on to the ball when one more pass looked the best option. Twice, after missed opportunities to score tries from â€˜advantageâ€™ Keswick were awarded penalties kicked by Ireland. This produced a satisfactory 9-0 scoreline but against a side where scoring 4 tries was so eminently possible scores merely from penalties represented an underachievement.
The problem was alleviated by further Keswick pressure accompanied this time by a more clinical finish. With Keswick once again running a penalty â€˜advantageâ€™ a stunning cross field move involving Garner, Roper, Wallace and McKenzie saw each beat the onrushing defender with a well- timed pass. Rigby hit the final offload at pace and a strong run and a final critical inside step opened the door for a try in the corner. It was a great score and from an impossible position Ireland added the conversion points.
Keswick were boosted by the breakthrough and could have scored again when effective offensive defence forced Littleborough attacks sideways. Poor Littleborough passes resulted in both Partington on the right and Bunting on the left making well timed interceptions and both off for the distant try line. For Partington being â€˜clearâ€™ put him in unfamiliar territory an when an urge to pass to persons unknown became irresistible the chance was lost. For Bunting it was diminishing space that terminated the chance and once again Littleborough were relieved to escape further deficit.
Keswick finished the first half well and were rewarded for their diligence with a second try. The build-up was similar to many Keswick moves before with Roper in command of willing forwards ensuring momentum and the subsequent delivery of gift wrapped â€˜fastâ€™ ball. Prop Mike Tait made the final telling carry allowing Roperâ€™s dart through a tiny gap and superb final pass to the switched-on Ireland. Ireland crossed the try line under the sticks and thereby gave himself his easiest kick of the half.
Keswick were delighted they had discovered their way to the try line and that they were so far ahead in a â€˜must winâ€™ match. Littleborough were encouraged by the fact that they now had the wind at their backs and that they could attempt to dominate territory by relying on their strong set scrum and the assisted kicks of their stand off and inside backs. Exchanges soon became hard and attritional with Littleborough determined to achieve a scoring breakthrough and at the same time prevent Keswickâ€™s addition of the tries which would achieve a bonus point. Keswick operated a high line and with good tackles across the width of the pitch stopped Littleboroughâ€™s attempts to make an instant impression.
Both sides worked hard but creativity was in short supply amongst the hard tackles and the game became scrappy and was littered with penalties. Two of these were awarded when the attitude of some of the visitorâ€™s players upset the referee. This was good for Keswick who generally maintained excellent discipline themselves and with long penalties to touch by Ireland set up attacking opportunities inside the visitorâ€™s half. Littleborough succeeded in repelling Keswickâ€™s best attacks and although they were exposed by combinations involving Bland and James Addyman, and by numerous breaks through the traffic, notably by Smyth, McKenzie and Garner, Keswickâ€™s lack of a more decisive cutting edge led to the stutters which boosted Littleboroughâ€™s ambitions.
Littleborough scored the first of their 2 second half tries in the 64th minute, too late to seriously threaten Keswickâ€™s position but not too late for them to be enticed by the possibility of achieving their own bonus point. Frustrated by their failed attempts to make things happen in attack Keswick were utterly determined not to succumb and even during a period without the services and guiding hand of the injured Roper, Keswickâ€™s defensive effort remained rock-solid. With the scrum half hot -seat occupied for 20 minutes by the ultra-cool Jim Creighton, and with Rigby re-shuffled to flanker, Keswick hit their tackles, absorbed growing pressure and always returned Littleborough to a safe distance.
The final throes were characterised by masses of effort but lots of errors and emotion. A Littleborough try with seconds to go was disappointing for Keswick but was not enough to detract from a deserved win.
KESWICK 36 points â€“ Workington 7.
WIGTON 5 points â€“ KESWICK 24.
Lots of players were missing from both sides so the match was modified to include under-14 players. Keswick called up expert playmaker Will Westle and utility man for all seasons Keiran Pepper to plug their necessary gaps. Wigtonâ€™s over agers were more populous; – and bigger, and, pre-match, respective coaches agreed that if Keswick got steamrollered in the first ten minutes some extra adjustment could be considered.
Keswick did get steamrollered in the first ten minutes and conceded a try; – Â but seconds later, a great combined try saving effort by Levi Waklelin Groves, Sam Cameron and Will Addyman gave Keswick some realization that with the application of the necessary commitment in defence and appropriate tactics in attack there could be some salvation. In the next demonstration of Keswickâ€™s resilience, tough as teak winger James Spedding drove away from dodgy ground uncomfortably close to the Keswick try line and passed to full back Ben Vaillant. Benâ€™s impressive 40 metre run was continued by winger Marco Wong and together the pair cleared the danger. From then-on an air of confidence whooshed through the Keswick team.
Keswickâ€™s spirit was personified by skipper Addyman who worked overtime to ensure regular hard yards against bigger opponents. Alongside Addyman â€˜up frontâ€™, loose forward Owen Harris and locks Alex Bland and Chris Graham made hard-working contributions and applied the â€˜offloadâ€™ game which gradually produced an irresistible surge. The Keswick pack, avoiding any unnecessary contact produced an abundance of runnable possession and consequent momentum which Wigton could not contain. The Keswick backs revelled in the space provided by the forwards and with Wigton suddenly on the retreat scrum half Levi Wakelin-Groves and centres Sam Cameron and Matty Newton began to enjoy a field day. Billy Thompson on the left wing superbly finished a slick passing move inspired by Addyman, Cameron and Pepper and just before half time Vaillant, Wong and Pepper set up a chance which Addyman on the hoof finished in style. Westle kicked the conversion and Keswick reached half â€“time with a confidence boosting 12-5 lead.
Keswick were encouraged by coaches Ceri Storer and John Addyman to play the â€˜same wayâ€™ in the second half. Keswick did, but not without resistance from a physically superior Wigton side. When Wigton had the ball they were still a force to be reckoned with and for a while only committed tacking by Keswick and effective clearing kicks by Westle ensured the preservation of their lead. An encouraging indicator of Keswickâ€™s progress was signalled by the improvement in the performance of the set scrum where â€˜stand inâ€™ prop Bland scrummaged ferociously against a bigger opponent and helped Keswick achieve parity where previously they had been second-best.
Keswick worked very hard to maintain the continuity in attack which allowed them to finish the game strongly. After a good period which saw Wong, now at full back,Â and Vaillant now on the right wing, make great runs, lively hooker Ben Hammond nearly scored, and shortly afterwards so too did Addyman. Both players were held up by spirited Wigton defence only feet from the try line and this repulsion helped Keswick revert to a wider approach. The tactical variation achieved instant success from Wongâ€™s counter attacking run Cameron hit an irresistible line and Keswickâ€™s star threequarter dived in for a great try. Before Wigton had time to recover sustained Keswick pressure led by Addyman and featuring a sharp break by Westle created a score for the impressive Pepper. Wakelin Groves landed the conversion which completed a massive performance by Keswick in a great game.
KESWICK SCHOOL RUGBY.
Allerdale Schools Under-12 Tournament
Keswick School were represented at this popular annual event and a hastily assembled squad improvised well against Cockermouth School, who had two teams, Nelson Thomlinson School and Stainburn School. After a shaky start against an outstanding Cockermouth School (1sts) side Keswick School settled and grew in confidence. Even before the end of a big defeat in match one the side was showing the improvements in tackling, alignment and decision making which ensured success in the subsequent matches.
Keswick Schoolâ€™s record was Played 4, Lost 1, won 2 and Drawn 1.
Keswick School 0 – Cockermouth School 35 points.
Keswick School 10 points â€“ Nelson Thomlinson School 0.
Keswick School 5 points â€“ Stainburn School 5.
Keswick School 20 points â€“ Cockermouth School â€˜Aâ€™ 0.
Keswick Schoolâ€™s Try scorers were Zante Stone, 4, Christian Fidoe, Oliver Anderton and Eddie Messenger.
CUMBRIAN NORTH LANCASHIRE LEAGUE.
Tarleton 31 points â€“ Keswick 17.
Keswick decided to play with the elements in the first half which has traditionally represented an advantage. Wind assisted, kicking for position is a more acceptable means of gaining territorial advantage and, knowing that the tables will turn at half time, every effort has to be made to establish a lead. Matches can be dictated, but more often influenced, by the side that makes best use of the elements. Modern thinking includes sound strategies for playing against the wind such as closing down opportunities to kick, keeping the ball â€˜tightâ€™ thus not risking an expansive passing game which might be blown off course, and a controlled counter kicking game which avoids making gifts of possession.
In the gusty wet conditions the first twenty minutes of the match was a stalemate where because of the equal battle between two very conscientious defences no significant gains in ground could be made. Play was centred on the half way line and although in the conditions Tarletonâ€™s natural wide passing game was stymied the midfield log-jam clearly suited Tarletonâ€™s ambition. The home side were very good at carrying the ball quickly over short distances and with an impressively active back row made the vital hard yards which then helped maintain a high defensive line. Keswick had their hands full defensively and were granted no opportunity to produce the telling measured kick which could have gained easy ground. Keswickâ€™s back row of Tom Garner, Tom Partington and James Addyman worked equally diligently to make hard yards. Keswickâ€™s quality possession was spasmodic and against Tarletonâ€™s rapid rush Keswickâ€™s progress was slow, difficult and costly in terms of deployment.
On a day where the conditions were decidedly unfavourable Keswick were forced to try wider avenues to ensure progress and despite a standing start a forceful run by centre Jamie McKenzie opened the door for wingman Stephen Hodgson. Hodgson ran well but without too much support; the Tarleton defence reacted quickly to eliminate the threat and the chance was lost. On the other wing Mike Bunting chased a speculative kick but the ball acted weirdly in the wind and could not be brought under control. As the elements became more hostile there was a further reduction of Keswickâ€™s opportunity for wide attack and with the efficient implementation of an anti-wind strategy Tarleton established their most advanced position of the match. Keswick were caught offside and the result for Tarleton was a priceless three points achieved against the wind.
Keswick quickly returned to the Tarleton half and after a lineout catch by Karl Smyth, established Â a presence in the home â€˜22â€™.Thanks to the offensive tackling of Robert Bland, McKenzie and skipper Matty Roper, this was maintained and when Tarleton resorted to moving slow possession Bunting was quick to see the possibilities. Pouncing on a loose ball Bunting hacked-on and despite the tail wind reached the ball 1 metre before it became dead. Jim Creighton kicked the conversion. The breakthrough gave Keswick confidence, and was the prelude to their best spell of the match. In the minutes before half time Tarleton had to defend very close to their line and were twice lucky to avoid the award of yellow cards when they were penalised for illegal ball-slowing tactics. Creighton kicked the second of these and Keswick led 10 -3.
This would have been a satisfactory, if not ideal, situation reaching half time. Instead with seconds of the half to play the referee issued a yellow card to Partington for offside and this meant ten minutes without the services of a very influential forward. Ignoring the perceived injustice, good defensive work by Creighton and Addyman prevented a Tarleton try on the stroke of half time.
Keswickâ€™s early second half advances were promising but could not be maintained and Tarletonâ€™s changed emphasis soon became apparent. Â Their introduction of a wider handling game was helped immeasurably by a significant improvement in the weather and with greater adventure, particularly from stand-off; the Tarleton backs began to look increasingly dangerous. In the space of four minutes the Keswick forwards were back-footed by driving mauls and the wide defence was opened twice by angled runners targeting spaces. For the first time in the match the Keswick tackling was suspect and Tarletonâ€™s two converted tries established a 17-10 lead.
The situation steadied when Keswick were restored to 15 men and for the middle â€˜20â€™ of the second half it was Keswick who dominated the territorial battle. Tarleton did not make it easy for the visitors who against solid tackling had to battle for every yard. Keswick made some progress with the ball in the hands of the threequarters but in general it was the Keswick pack that ensured best progress. Against this Keswick were often forced back and challenged to start again when the Tarleton stand-off, demonstrating fine judgement, drilled kicks into exposed areas behind Keswickâ€™s back-three.
During their best spell of pressure Keswick advanced through the short controlled carries of Carrick Wharmby, Partington and Addyman and as their rucking improved won penalty kicks, mainly awarded for Tarleton interference after the tackle and offside. After a well-executed passing move involving Roper, Bland and full back Andy Wallace, the galloping Smyth was stopped only two metres from the Tarleton goal line. Keswick retained the ball and after a high tackle on McKenzie were awarded a penalty. Creighton hit the far post with a well-judged kick blown sideways at the last second but Bunting, following up on the charge, seized the ball and dived over the line to score. An easy conversion for Creighton levelled the scores at 17-17.
With 10 minutes on the clock Keswick were within reach of at least a draw or even an important victory. The key to success lay in the successful maintenance of territory based on ball retention and sustained attack. Tarleton had precisely the same idea, and, confident in their ability to find another gear and wind assisted, they followed their accurately struck re-start kick and applied immediate pressure. Just inside their â€˜22â€™ Keswick continued to make tackles but without the same punch as before against a more determined attack suffered worrying losses of ground. Mixing their range of passes well, Tarleton remained patient and waited for signs of Keswick defensive frailty. Keswick held on against a two minute multi-phase attack but lost ground against Tarletonâ€™s accurate and powerful fast ruck deployments. A gap was spotted and Tarleton scored; a successful conversion returned the margin of Keswickâ€™s deficit to 7 points.
Driven now by the prospect of securing the four try bonus point, Tarleton mounted a big finish which Keswick were unable to match. Merely clinging to the one point bonus awarded for a defeat by 7 points or fewer was not an option and for Keswick to emerge with some reward they had to make sure they had the possession which would ensure that the match finished in the Tarleton half. Keswick resisted but were unable to clear their lines and with only seconds remaining regained but then immediately lost possession just inside their â€˜22â€™. Once again Tarleton were alert and on the last play of the match manufactured an inviting gap and an easy scoring chance for one of their centres.
CUMBRIAN LEAGUE DIVISION 2.
KESWICK â€˜Aâ€™ 38 points â€“ EGREMONT â€˜Aâ€™ 15.
After their failure to produce a team to play their fixture on the previous Saturday Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ were represented by 18 players during this match. Egremont â€˜Aâ€™ inflicted a 106 points -14 defeat on Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ in November, so however viewed, for Keswick, this was a successful exercise and a good match with a satisfactory outcome. Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ remain in second place in the Cumbrian League Division 2, and with one, or possibly two, matches to go should maintain that position.
Keswick â€™Aâ€™s try scorers were, Oliver Dunn 2, Dan Stephenson 2, Sam Hooper and Matty Atkinson. Dunn kicked 4 conversions.
March 19, 2014
KESWICK 21 points â€“ UPPER EDEN 0.
KESWICK 24 points â€“ HAWCOAT PARK 0 .
CARLISLE â€˜Bâ€™ 19 points â€“ KESWICK 17.
Keswick under-14s welcomed back flying wingman Tom Baker who has been missed during an injury lay off lasting several weeks. With Baker in the side Keswick have genuine wide strike potential and his two tries in this match reminded Keswickâ€™s regulars what they have been missing. The Keswick team, which included five under-13 players played well during a tight match and with a conversion by Will Westle and third try added by Dan Sant, looked likely to hang on to a 17-12 lead. The clock was quickly winding down with an estimated three minutes to play when Carlisle, applying pressure, were awarded a penalty close to the Keswick posts. Despite the best efforts of a Keswick side who had played well and deserved to win a big Carlisle forward barged over the line to score and tie the scores. A successful conversion then won the match and Keswick had insufficient time to bounce back.
HAWCOAT PARK 25 points â€“ KESWICK 45.
Keswick agreed to a later than usual kick-off at 11-30am but the match eventually kicked off at 12.05 pm. The home team were only 9 strong to start so Keswick reduced their side accordingly. The delay, caused because some Hawcoat Park players were playing in Rugby League matches that kicked-off earlier, at least allowed Keswick some extra practice time and the value of this was realised as soon as the match commenced. After an early scare when they were penalised for offside 1 metre from their goal line, and only survived thanks to good tackles by Archie Fillingham, Zante Stone and Riley Moffatt, Keswickâ€™s rehearsal of moves from scrums paid off. Hooker Ben Calder claimed a heel against the head and the ball was moved through the hands of scrum half Jacob Fell, and Zante to centre Seb Sanderson. Seb drove and stepped through three tackles and the ball ended up in a huddle 3 metres from the Hawcoat line. When the ball emerged it was thanks to the awesome mauling skills of Keswickâ€™s Jonno Langcake; Jonno passed to Jacob and Jacobâ€™s well weighted pass hit Zante on the charge. Zante chose a destructive line and the resultant try gave Keswick an early lead.
This was just the start Keswick needed and during the next 7 minutes they won most of the possession and made all the running. When Hawcoat Park had the ball it wasnâ€™t for long and after tackles, mostly made by Eddie Messenger, Zante, and Alice Langcake, loose ball was claimed at the breakdown by Archie, Zante and Ben. The biggest improvement in Keswickâ€™s game was that they went forward in defence and this approach meant that tackles could be made with much greater power and accuracy than in any match this season. Well assisted by Eddie and Jonno, Ben also claimed the next three scrums, two of which were from Hawcoat put-ins. Keswickâ€™s use of the ball was brilliant and their well-timed passing invited progress by the next runner. Zante hit some great lines, adding two tries which completed a fast hat-trick, and then, after a surging run by Louis Jenkinson there was a much deserved captainâ€™s try for the ever lively Jacob. Hawcoat scored a deserved try just before half â€“time.
As they edged all the 50-50â€™s and added tries by Zante (2) and Jonno,Â to one try by Hawcoat Park, Keswick kept changing their team and it was good to see that in order to get on the pitch so many players were willing to play in positions which were new to them or at which they were not expert. The rolling-substitutes process was helped when a 10th Hawcoat Park player arrived and both teams could now play with 5 â€˜backsâ€™. Nathan Hughes spent game time at centre, wing and hooker and did well in all three positions; playing his first game of rugby, Jonny Lamb played centre and wing and made some great tackles, one of which saved a certain try; Ben Calder, a specialist hooker had a run at scrum half and Louis played at prop, second row and scrum half, demonstrating prowess in each. Like Jonny. Louis is a soccer convert who appears to have made a very smooth transition. By contrast, and proving that versatility is an over-rated attribute Eddie Messenger is a prop and only a prop and it was he who made a charge which skittled a few defenders and opened space for a supportingÂ run by Archie. Archie, Alice and Charlie Cartmell exchanged passes and as the Hawcoat Park defence became exposed Alice drove forward and set up the decisive ruck. Appearing from a concealed deep position Zante zoomed over for his sixth try and Keswickâ€™s eighth, it was a great score which typified Keswickâ€™s growing grasp of the best way to play.
Hawcoat Park worked hard to stay in touch with Keswick and scored second half tries from breakaways created by good passing and the powerful runs of their scrum half and centre. Generally Keswick tackled well but Hawcoat got better at keeping the ball at the ruck and this allowed them greater attacking opportunities as the game went on. Jacob returned from a breather he didnâ€™t really want or need to score the individual try of the match. After tackling an opponent on the halfway line he picked up the spinning ball and in a flash dashed off towards the left corner flag. Jacob sidestepped the first covering defender and found a change of pace to beat the second. With one man to beat Jacob found his overdrive and dived over the line to score.
The referee announced that the next play would be the last and from a determined last surge Hawcoat Park scored the final try of a great match.
KESWICK SCHOOL RUGBY.
ALLERDALE SCHOOLSâ€™ GIRLSâ€™U-15 RUGBY â€˜10â€™s TOURNAMENT.
Keswick School Girlsâ€™ under-15 team performed well in a tough competition played in damp conditions at Cockermouth Rugby Club. Six teams were present and matches were short and played on small pitches. This was a bit of a disadvantage to the Keswick School team who like to play an expansive game where their fitness and running skills can be utilised more readily. In the slimy conditions Keswick at first had had a job moving the ball and suffered by having to play three of their first 4 matches uphill. This was major handicap against more powerful opponents and Keswick were sometimes pinned to their try line where it became very difficult to achieve any momentum.
Keswick worked really hard to get their game together and when their passes stuck they exploited space and scored some great tries. The entire team responded to the inspirational and infectious example set by their captain Francheska Horsburgh and emerged with credit for the way they tried to play attractive rugby in defiance of the conditions.
Keswick School 0 â€“ Cockermouth School 5 points.
Keswick School 0 â€“ St Benedictâ€™s School 0.
Keswick School 15 points â€“ Stainburn School 5.
Southfield School 25 points â€“ Keswick School 5.
Netherhall School 15 points â€“ Keswick School 15.
Keswickâ€™s tries were scored by Francheska Horsburgh 6 and Katy
KESWICK 30 points â€“ UPPER EDEN 12.
Keswick remain strapped for players and, again disrupted by unavailability, were forced to make 5 changes from the side beaten at Aldwinians in the previous match. Coming in to the side for the first time this season were prop Tom Smith, and flanker David Ray; centre Robert Bland started a 1st XV match for the first time, prop Graeme Marshall resumed his comeback after a one week absence and utility back Josh Clark, also a debutant, was salvaged from the wreckage of a 2nd team not going to Barrow.
Smith and Ray are highly respected players who if their availability were more permanent would be in the 1st XV every week. When both were able to appear for this vital match their presence was interpreted as a good omen, and set against their proven ability their lack of match fitness was seen as irrelevant.Â Both players were prominent in the early match action which featured some tough exchanges at the gain line mostly dictated by Keswick. Smith twice carried the ball beyond the rush defence and Upper Edenâ€™s first attack was ended abruptly when, with typical dexterity, Ray the tackler returned to his feet and stole the possession. Keswickâ€™s confidence was confirmed by their immediate accurate movement of the ball and after a blockbusting run by Jamie McKenzie which attracted three defenders, wing man Stephen Hodgson, with an impressive jinking run, made 30 metres through traffic on the wide left.
Thus encouraged Keswick mounted successive attacks which tested Upper Edenâ€™s defence. Ray and stand-off Matty Roper combined to release McKenzie through an unguarded centre-field channel, full-back Andy Wallace and Hodgson exchanged passes in an attack down the left wing and big runs by Carrick Wharmby, Marshall and loose forward James Addyman, extended Keswick pressure to within 3 metres of the Upper Eden line. Throughout this period Upper Edenâ€™s scramble defence was spirited and exemplary, which considering the absence of some of their regular players constituted a praiseworthy effort. Keswick thought the breakthrough had arrived on the right side of the pitch when the underused Dean Robinson beat his marker on the outside and sprinted impressively for what looked like a brilliant try at the corner flag. The effort was not awarded; Robinsonâ€™s foot had brushed the touchline and the score remained 0-0.
Upper Eden were always dangerous ball-in-hand and Keswick had to be alert to their very quick scrum possession and their pace and invention when running the ball out of defence. As has been the case recently Keswick began to concede penalties under pressure and as Upper Eden gained ground cheaply Keswick suffered some exposure inside their â€˜22â€™. Keswick survived a very shaky spell where the penalty count against them reached an unacceptable level, Ray suffered an injury to his hand and had to be replaced, and had it not been for the effective tackles of Karl Smyth, Bland, Addyman and Wallace in particular, Keswick could have fallen behind.
Improved discipline, demanded by skipper Roper after a general warning by the referee, helped Keswick mount second quarter attacks which returned play to the visitorâ€™s end and ultimately led to chances from which Keswick should have scored. Successive efforts to cross the Upper Eden try line crashed for want of a better last pass and others were agonisingly close, with last gasp tackles on McKenzie and the supporting Marshall made with the line just a dive away. In the last 5 minutes of the halfÂ Addyman was similarly denied, Wallaceâ€™s try scoring pass to Hodgson dropped short of the targetÂ and, in the last protracted action, repeated charges under the crossbar by numerous Keswick forwards led to some frenzied â€˜in-goalâ€™ action but unfortunately for Keswick , no try.
Keswickâ€™s appreciation of precisely what was required in the second half was the thing that helped them most, and showing great determination and team spirit they made a very positive start. In support of some positive go-forward running by Smyth, Wharmby, replacement flanker Christian Sellars and McKenzie, scrum half Jim Creighton fired out the increasingly rapid service demanded by Roper at stand â€“off. These combinations delivered as they were with pace power and accuracy from both set piece and breakdown, suddenly had Upper Eden in trouble and as they became back-footed their vulnerability was clearly evident. Upper Eden had one of their flankers sent to the sin bin for interference after the tackle and Creighton kicked Keswick ahead with a penalty. This was the start point for the spell of pressure which sealed the result.
In a purple patch lasting 20 minutes Keswick at last began to finish what they started and from big runs up the middle of the pitch by Addyman and Smyth respectively, followed by passing moves involving Creighton, Roper and McKenzie, Bland made spectacular outside breaks which no visiting defender could either predict, or match for pace. Creighton kicked both conversions, and a penalty, to give Keswick a comfortable 20-0 lead.
Upper Eden reacted in a typical fashion and with a series of close plays mixing â€˜pick and goâ€™ and passes to runners â€˜one outâ€™ burst Keswickâ€™s bubble with a try scoring return to the home â€˜22â€™. Once again Keswick decided that attack was their best form of defence and more â€˜testingâ€™ of the Upper Eden defence was demanded by the surging runs made by Addyman, McKenzie and Marshall. From concerted Keswick pressure which produced a yellow card for a second Upper Eden player, Creighton kicked a third penalty which restored more comfort to Keswickâ€™s lead.
With ten minutes to go an Upper Eden kick to touch was fielded by Hodgson who was stationed in a deep and unpromising position just infield from Keswickâ€™s left corner flag. Rejecting the easy option kick to touch and the sanctuary offered by closely located forwards, Hodgson risked all on an ambitious run across the face of his own goal posts in search of space or the support necessary to bail him out should this adventure run into difficulties. No Upper Eden chaser could catch him and Hodgson found his space in the surprisingly plentiful ground beyond the far post. This freedom enabled him to straighten his run and buy time for a perfectly judged pass to Robinson, marked, but speeding in overdrive in the wide right channel. Robinson was supremely decisive, stepping infield to beat the defender and setting off for the try line 70 metres distant. It was a fine try to finish a length of the field move and with 5 minutes to play Keswick had the chance of a 4 try bonus point.
It was Upper Eden who finished the stronger side and capped a very worthy effort with a second try scored with seconds to spare. Keswickâ€™s relief to have at last corrected some iffy form and to have won a match superseded the disappointment at not adding a fourth try.
Â KESWICK â€˜Aâ€™.
After some close scrapes with disaster in recent weeks Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ finally became a non-viable entity on Saturday when 6 players turned up for the trip to Hawcoat Park â€˜Aâ€™. The match had to be conceded. Despite their predicament Keswick â€™Aâ€™ remain in second place in the Cumbrian League Division 2, but are now one concession away from elimination from the competition. A team has been selected for this weekâ€™s match against Egremont â€˜Aâ€™; as usual as much homework as is possible has been done, and in accordance with selection policy, players who are known, or believed to be unavailable have not been included.
Keswickâ€™s Girl players travelled to Darlington on Sunday to take part in the Darlington Mowden Park Tournament. The event took place in Darlington Mowden Parkâ€™s new home, the 26,000 seat Darlington Arena, an atmospheric venue with a nice dry pitch, a carvery and colossal changing rooms. Keswick were represented by teams at under-13, under-15 and under-18 levels and the party consisted of 32 players in total.
The participation level in Girls rugby is improving all the time. This means that an increased number of clubs are now attracted to this kind of tournament, and that at tournaments fewer clubs need amalgamate to form viable sides. Now, with a greater numbers, more and more clubs can â€˜stand-aloneâ€™ fielding under-15 and under-18 teams composed entirely of their â€˜ownâ€™ players. Keswickâ€™s next target is to have sufficient players to do this. Improvements in playing standards are clearly evident particularly in respect of ball skills, execution and physicality. At every level on Sunday play was fast and dynamic and the Keswick players ran hard and tackled superbly.
Keswick under-13s fielded two sides â€˜Hoopsâ€™ and â€˜Redsâ€™ both played well in 6 a side quarter pitch leagues where if a tackle was missed or not completed then a try was very much on. In all their matches Keswick hoops had to face more physical opponents but this didnâ€™t seem to faze the players and Hannah Steel, Kate Burchill and Millie Dobson all made good runs and registered some crunching tackles. For the Reds Nicole Mattinson, skipper Erin Collins and Phoebe Bell set a good example leading inventive attacks involving all the team
Keswick under-15s were asked to incorporate 4 Cockermouth players to form a team known as Cumbria. The Cockermouth girls were good players and integrated very well in matches against physically imposing Hull and Castleford. Tanya Graham, Georgina Clark and Alice Burchill made good yardage against hard hitting defence and Francheska Horsburgh was the teamâ€™s top tackler and made two brilliant three quarter length runs. For a side thrown together at the last minute the Cumbria under-15s did very well and were desperately unlucky not to score in either of their matches.
Keswick under-18s with 9 players were amalgamated with players from Bishop Auckland RFC for a three way 15 a side competition against Darlington Mowden Park, a side which included players from 5 different clubs, and Barnsley. The standard of play here was very high and as they improvised a pitch-side warm up and tactical plan based on integrating the Bishop Auckland players, Keswick had the benefit of watching the match between the other two competing teams. The match was a classic example of the improvements which have taken place in standards of play and Keswick realised that against either of these sides they would be in for a tough match.
Barnsley were Keswickâ€™s first opponents and straightaway Keswick lost ground as their tackles failed to stop the movement of the ball. Keswick conceded a try and at the same time lost key player, stand-off Katie Pepper with a knee injury. Keswick struck back from the kick off and with quick accurate passes by the scrum half (a Bishop Auckland player), replacement stand-off Heather Creighton and loose forward Emily Pratt released Christina Tully on the wide right. Christina sidestepped her opposite number and made a great run down the wing before being apprehended by the cover and bundled into touch. Keswick kept improving, and forwards Emily, Bethany Robinson, and Nikita Wilson and winger Vikki Cullenan drew applause for succession of great tackles. As they gained cohesion and confidence Keswick played some enterprising attacking rugby. against a very well organised side. Barnsley scored a second, converted try just before the end of the match.
Darlington Mowden Park had the benefit of a long rest before they played Keswick and set about Keswick from the first whistle. There was some disorganisation attributable to a re shuffle and the incorporation of a new borrowed player necessitated by Katieâ€™s absence and DMP drove through the resultant gap to gain a position well inside the Keswick â€˜22â€™. DMP forced Keswick into errors and scored after a bit of panic resulted in a failure to escape. This time, from the kick-off Keswick kept possession and played some good rugby against another well organised defence. Emily Pratt was Keswickâ€™s principal ball carrier and she enjoyed good support from Christina and Heather during advances beyond the gain line. DMP defended well showing that with the necessary notice, preparation and practice amalgamated sides will become effective units. Like Barnsley before them, DMP were determined not to concede, and demonstrated this with some unscrupulous tackling Keswickâ€™s shortage of specialists was costly and meant lost opportunities to continue promising attacking opportunities and lapses in defence where even Emily and Heatherâ€™s huge tackle count could not stop two further tries by DMP.
Keswick may have lost both their matches but in a tough field this was a very encouraging effort by all concerned.
Â â€˜Hoopsâ€™ team, captained by Hannah Steel.
KeswickÂ 0 â€“ Morpeth 10 points.
Keswick 20 points â€“ Yorkshire 35.
Keswick 5 points â€“ Stockton 10.
Scorers: Alice Langcake 3 tries, Maysie Archbold and Kate Burchill.
â€˜Red team, captained by Erin Collins.
Keswick 15 points â€“ Durham City 5.
Keswick 20 points- Novocastrians 5.
Keswick 0 â€“ Durham/Novos 20 points.
Scorers: Phoebe Bell 3 tries, Erin Collins 2 and Nicole Mattinson 2
Keswick /Cockermouth 0 â€“ Hull 5 points.
Keswick /Cockermouth 0 â€“ Castleford 15 points.
Keswick / Bishop Auckland 0 â€“ Barnsley 10 points
Keswick / Bishop Auckland 0 â€“ Darlington Mowden Park 15 points.
CUMBRIAN NORTH LANCASHIRE LEAGUE..
ALDWINIANS 35 points â€“ KESWICK 0..
Debilitated once again by massive player unavailability Keswick were not to confirm a complete team until Friday evening and were therefore unable to prepare properly for this important match. During the game the honest performance of a brave but inexperienced and lightweight side, denied the services of specialists at prop and stand-off, was insufficient to prevent a more mature Aldwinians claiming a five point victory. That Keswick were able to raise their game in the second half, and with the lionâ€™s share of possession claim parity, provided a boost to morale but meant nothing in real terms. It will now take a huge effort as well as lapses by similarly imperilled rivals, to avoid relegation to the Cumbrian League.
Keswick made a good start and after a series of advances by the forwards were awarded the put in to the gameâ€™s first scrum on the wide right. The scrum buckled as Aldwiniansâ€™ locked outâ€™ but Keswick managed to heel the ball and number 8 Tom Partington sprinted into space on the blind side. Partington was well supported and Aldwinians had to scramble to clear the danger. Keswick did well to retain the ball in the rucks which followed and forwards Karl Smyth and James Addyman grafted for yards with determined runs at Aldwiniansâ€™ defenders at the rucksâ€™ edge. The passage gave Keswick some early encouragement but also hinted at Aldwinianâ€™s resilience, organization and superior power.
Keswick lost both the next two scrums, pushed off the ball by the coordinated surge of the bigger unit, but defended well and lost no ground thanks to the combined efforts of flankers Christian Sellars and Tim Green and centre Jamie McKenzie. Keswick were punished more severely for their first technical indiscretion after 10 minutes. A penalty awarded for not releasing the ball after the tackle enabled Aldwinians to boot the ball down the left touchline and Keswick had to defend a lineout just beyondÂ their â€˜22â€™ metre line. What followed was depressingly familiar, a catch and drive followed by attempts by Keswick to wheel and split Aldwinians menacing driving maul. When the maul collapsed Aldwinians were awarded a 5 metre scrum and there was no way from that position that Keswick could prevent the gameâ€™s opening score.
Aldwinianâ€™s clear grasp of the potential to score more points through smashing Keswick â€˜up-frontâ€™ wasÂ compromised only by the wishes of a back division equally determined to be involved in the kill. During the next 15 minutes Keswick endured ruthless exposure as Aldwinians mixed their game between power-play and ball movement administered with great pace and accuracy. The game was won and lost during this time as Aldwinians ripped through Keswickâ€™s right field defence and scored three further converted tries. It could have developed into an embarrassing rout had it not been for a determined response by Keswick which began with improved tackles preventing the offload, and a better return of possession from a more committed counter ruck. To further help Keswickâ€™s recovery Aldwinianâ€™s pre-occupation with the accumulation of a massive score led to deviation from the controlled game which had so harmed Keswick during the opening quarter.
Keswickâ€™s second half effort was boosted enormously by the greater award of penalties against Aldwinians for various offences for which no punishment had been metered during the first half. These were mostly offences after the tackle and their sudden detection meant gains in ground and better quality loose possession for Keswick. Consigned to the back foot as Keswick at last discovered some attacking momentum Aldwinians seemed to lose a lot of their first half sparkle and were stuck in their own half for long periods at a time. Keswick looked like a different side, forwards Addyman, Carrick Wharmby, and Mike Tait became the gameâ€™s most prominent forwards, and Mike Bunting and centre partner McKenzie formed the cutting edge of a much more menacing Keswick midfield. Rocked by the disappearance of their territorial monopoly Aldwinians were determined not to let Keswick score and their scrupulous attention to the preservation of a clean sheet became as impressive as their earlier excellence in attack.
Keswickâ€™s best series of attacks took place between the 60th and 70th minute when Smyth claimed three lineout balls son the trot and McKenzie, Roper, Bunting and Addyman were involved in a protracted attack where any of them could have scored. Keswick played with restored pride and deserved the consolation score which never came. Resilient to the last Aldwinians drove up the field in search of the try which would provide some reminder of their earlier monopoly. Keswick wingman Dean Robinson chased back determinedly to prevent one certain score but Keswick failed to clear the danger. Aldwinians exploited Keswick hesitancy in possession inside their â€˜22â€™ and their fifth try completed Keswickâ€™s pain.
KESWICK â€˜Aâ€™47 points â€“ ASPATRIA â€˜Aâ€™20.
After the carve-up inflicted by player shortages at first team level, from the ranks of their own regulars, and in the complete absence of anyone who was, or looked like, a prop forward, there was more crossing out than additions and the temptation to bomb the fixture wouldnâ€™t go away. The paper team changed but never dropped below the â€˜make or break 10â€™ players. By Friday, agonised discussion and optimistic approaches to players who hadnâ€™t been seen or heard of for months, gave Keswick, a notional 12-men,Â the â€˜coreâ€™ of side, and It was decided to keep the fixture on. In the end 11 Keswick players turned up including very welcome returnees Lewis Thompson, Tim Ashbridge and David Ray, and schoolboy debutant Colin Squires. Keswick played with 11 of their own players and 2 borrowed from the opposition.. Aspatria played with 14 men. After a good match with plenty of good play a few laughs, and loads of points everybody agreed that the right decision had been made.
Keswickâ€™s try scorers were Ollie Dunn 3, Dan Stephenson, Tim Ashbridge 2, and David Ray. Dunn kicked 6 conversions.
February 18, 2014
Netherhall 55 points – Keswick 0.
Keswick under-14s have made steady progress this season but hit a brick wall in this match, comprehensively beaten by a strong and efficient side, enjoying too much their own-way. On a fine but cold blustery day at Maryport Keswick generously lent Netherhall a player but began the match poorly. The kick off was fielded but a succession of bad passes meant the team went backwards and, sensing the unease, Netherhall pressed for turnover possession. This was available, and without too much expenditure of energy Netherhall scored just to the right of the posts. Keswick didnâ€™t recover, defensive structure was lost, and after conceding three tries inside the first twelve minutes Keswick appeared to suffer a complete breakdown in confidence.
With confidence, such losses are recoverable but depend on the preparedness of the afflicted side to dig themselves out of the mire. Additionally there is much to be gained if by descent into complacency the dominant side â€˜switch offâ€™ or, inadvertently misplace their momentum. In this instance Keswick couldnâ€™t make things happen, ignored the advantage of a strong tail wind and remained troubled and sometimes frozen by Netherhallâ€™s enthusiasm. Keswickâ€™s tackles began to stop the runner but not the ball and with no discernible loss of concentration Netherhall referred to their skilled playmakers and cruised further ahead. In between tries Keswickâ€™s resistance was spirited if spasmodic; Keswickâ€™s set scrum was solid, Josh Newton and Thomas Slack made some strong tackles, Kristian Doherty, Henry Etisoy and Slack ran the ball out of defence effectively but lacked the support necessary to continue the momentum, and Danny Price covered every blade of grass in pursuit of an elusive ball. At half time Netherhall led 31 points -0.
Keswick were given an instant reminder of the need to tighten their defences and of Netherhallâ€™s opportunism, when a try was conceded within 30 seconds of the commencement of the second half.Â Keswick dropped off tackles and failed to chase back and behind the posts the team were reminded again that if they didnâ€™t offer greater resistance they faced the prospect of a massive defeat.
From then on Keswick improved and there is no doubt that their second half performance showed more accurately what the team are capable of. Keswick began to move forward and with greater close support were able to continue promising moves created by the runs of Slack, Price, Ceiran Davidson and Tom Hind. Netherhall were still dangerous every time they had possession, but their monopoly of possession was over and they had to drop back to re-group when at last some Keswick defence was applied going forward. It became Keswickâ€™s mission to score a consolation try and there were very good breaks by Doherty, Slack and Niall Askew which broke the gain line and forced Netherhall to defend inside their â€™22. Keswick began to believe that they could score and were unlucky that on more than one occasion a try would have been likely had one more pass been possible.
It was hard on Keswick that after such a promising recovery Netherhall scored three tries which with conversions took the score past 50. This was not the teamâ€™s finest hour, but this was recognised and recovery from this setback will be swift.
RUGBY CLUB NEWS.
The Cumbrian / North Lancashire League match between Keswick and Upper Eden was postponed on Saturday morning when Davidson Park was deemed waterlogged and unfit for play. This was after an inspection at 5-00 pm on Friday when the prospects for play looked good. A rare entirely fine day had accelerated a drying process begun on Thursday afternoon and the pitch was sufficiently firm (just) by sundown on Friday to allow the application of fresh white lines. The weather on Friday night was horrendous; on Saturday morning there were more puddles on the pitch than at any other time since the Christmas flood and the white lines were gone. The match against Upper Eden will now take place on Saturday 22nd February.
Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ have performed admirably this season with a record which is played 21, won 14, lost 7, points for 771, points against 531. This is not a perfect record, particularly in terms of points conceded, but it remains good enough to keep Keswick occasionally at the top, or near the top of the league.Â This admirable achievement has been the work of an extremely young side with an average age of 20. When Keswick hit top form there are few sides in the Cumbrian League Division 2 who can match their invention, pace and skill. â€˜Top formâ€™ is usually possible when the side remains that which is selected and there are a healthy number of replacements available. These qualities were most abundantly evident in some of Keswickâ€™s early season victories, one of which was against Kirkby Lonsdale â€˜Aâ€™, a match Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ won by 73 points -7.
Recently Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ have had to work harder for their victories, a fact partly attributable to the demands of an increasingly vulnerable 1st XV, and some injuries to key â€˜Aâ€™XV regulars. These developments are compounded by the general shortage of players created by inconsistent availability and a growing number of players unable or unwilling to play rugby on a regular basis. This depletion means that, currently, when Keswick teams are selected all available players are being picked and there is no surplus to fall back upon should gaps subsequently appear. This has been the case for the series of matches since the start of November where six of Keswick â€˜Aâ€™s seven losses have occurred. The situation remains sustainable because Cumbrian League rules do not punish or penalise teams who play with fewer than 15 players. On Saturday when a record number 6 selected players failed to â€˜showâ€™ and there were no reserves available, the team was completely undermined, a situation only partly alleviated by the fighting spirit of the loyal hard-core and the recruitment of Tom Partington and Lewis Davis, redundant casualties of the 1st XV.
KIRKBY LONSDALE â€˜Aâ€™ 43 points â€“ KESWICK â€˜Aâ€™ 14.
Like a lot of teams Kirkby Lonsdale â€˜Aâ€™ are a completely different proposition on their own patch and were quick to see the possibilities that arise from having an extra player. Playing with the aid of a very strong wind Kirkby ripped into Keswick from the start and attacked the heart of the visitors defence with strong destructive running and instantly available driving support. Keswick, who were given a player by Kirkby Lonsdale were placed very much on the back foot as they struggled to contain Kirkbyâ€™s impressive momentum.
Throughout the first half Keswickâ€™s attacks were restricted to breaks by their quick backsÂ but with scrum half Sam Hooper and stand-in stand- off Robert Bland under constant pressure, Keswickâ€™s best runners did well to escape as often as they did. Generally Keswick relied on inconsistent possession, sometimes lacking the quality delivery which enables the best attacks, and were further handicapped when full back Josh Clark sustained a knock which reduced his effectiveness. As usual flanker Christian Sellars topped Keswickâ€™s tackle count as the Keswick pack struggled, but survived, against heavier opponents playing appropriate tactics. In the circumstances it is difficult to see how the referee could have got the score wrong, but he did, crediting Keswick with a third try which they didnâ€™t score and missing a Kirkby try which he added as a penalty. Keswickâ€™s actual reward for survival was 2 tries scored by Dan Stephenson and Dominic Maguire both converted by Dunn.Â Kirkby Lonsdale scored three first half tries, and, in the real world, led at the interval by 21 points -14.
In the end the refereeâ€™s confusion did not matter, Kirkby Lonsdale further punished Keswick with more heavyweight attacking pressure completed first by a try and then a penalty. Kirkbyâ€™s organisation featured enough good defence to deny any wind-assisted Keswick scores and the visitorâ€™s lack of quality possession remained a major handicap. Keswick defended mostly well during the third quarter but, lacking so many vital components, became confused in possession about the best way to play. Utility forward Davis, now operating at stand-off, played in an unorthodox, yet effective manner; but collectively, Keswick failed to produce the right mix between kick and chase and attacks with ball in hand. Keswickâ€™s kicks more often than not gained ground which was then lost to efficient Kirkby Lonsdale counter attack. Keswickâ€™s lack of replacements further added to their woes; in addition to the injury sustained by Clark, another to Dunn meant that Keswick were further weakened by the loss of one of their main strike threats.
Kirkby Lonsdale finished very strongly adding 3 tries without reply during a fourth quarter where the wind was so strong and unpredictable that it was of no real advantage to anyone. Kirkby had 5 replacements which were introduced and rotated at intervals during the second half, – maintaining control and exacting a maximum toll on Keswickâ€™s depleted resources.