March 29, 2015
Carlisle Crusaders 8 pts. Keswick 46.
A match that produced what could be referred to as a ‘big win’ was in fact a tricky challenge against admirable opponents who presented problems and who never gave up. Keswick were re- constructedÂ by late changes ofÂ personnel and in a season’s ‘first’ Carlisle were younger than Keswick. After taking the lead Carlisle defended well for the entire first half and thanks mainly to a mature performa…nce by their playmakers made sure that Keswick worked hard in defence throughout.
The wind was a big factor and playing against the elements in the first half Keswick were tested. Carlisle applied the early pressure and from the second penalty they were awarded in the second minute, they claimed a 3-0 lead. Carlisle’s lively pack were well supported by backs who passed confidently and in front of the runner and only tackles by full back Mike Branthwaite, Jamie McKenzie and flanker Joe Quail prevented the addition of tries. Keswick eventually got their passing game together and when they did the game slowly swung in Keswick’s favour.
The advances made by Keswick led to a try for McKenzie which was converted by Jim Creighton. Soon afterwards Branthwaite and Bruce Rigby combined on the left and Rigby’s determined run evaded his marker and ended with a try in the left corner. Creighton again added the conversion points.
14-3 ahead against the elements was significant, especially as the weather quickly deteriorated and rain arrived in copious amounts just as the second half commenced. At first this helped Keswick to establish territory and from kicks by Branthwaite and Creighton Keswick made the gains prescribed in half time discussions. Sweeping passing moves ended in tries for wingmen Rigby and Joe Bagnall and at 24 -3, with 54 minutes on the clock Keswick looked to be cruising.
This was a mistaken assumption because after Keswick failed to clear a long Carlisle kick into the wind, and that failure resulted in the concession of successive penalties, Carlisle moved the ball efficiently and scored a fine try on the wide right.
This was the wake up call Keswick needed and from then until the end of the match there was never the serious threat of a meaningful Carlisle comeback. Carlisle were pressed deep, both by wind-assisted kicks and by passing build ups which deployed the offload to good effect. Prop forward MikeTait, centres McKenzie and Steve Hodgson, and half backs Creighton and Dean Robinson made the strong midfield breaks which finally broke Carlisle’s resistance, and tries were added by Dan Simpson, Bagnall again, McKenzie again and Hodgson. Creighton kicked one further conversion. By now the weather was extremely wet and very wild, and this challenged Keswick’s skill levels in the most difficult circumstances.
KESWICK 63 points – MORESBY 12.
In spring like conditions in front of a good size crowd, this was arguably Keswick’s most satisfying performance of the season.
Certainly some of the tries were among the best that the players could recall and there was satisfaction in the delivery of an ambitious game plan designed to take maximum advantage of aÂ fast, dry pitch. The benefits of a good start were clear when charges by the forwards exposed Moresby’s ‘first-up’ defence and established an early momentum impressively sustained for 80 minutes. Keswick’s continuity was accurate and the wider runs of stand off Paul Ireland and the back row of Aaron Thompson, Joe Quail and James Addyman created a try in the left corner for full- back Brian Storey. The conversion by Ireland was the first in a fine goal kicking display which included two penalties and two further conversions before half time. Tries by Bruce Rigby 2, and Thompson, were high quality finishes demonstrating individual flair, teamwork and the correct choice of option. And this was just as well; given the chance to shine, Moresby were highly dangerous too and their two first half tries were skilled and explosive creations from fast-passing attacks developed in an instant.
Moresby’s try and conversion just before half time alerted Keswick to the dangers of complacency and in no way was the 30 points – 12 score-line regarded as a safe cushion. Keswick responded in the best way possible which was by quickly re-establishing their healthy tempo of the first half and by running all possession. To help this process Keswick’s set piece play was consistently good and the service provided by scrum Half Dean Robinson was top-drawer throughout. The strategy involved the whole team and most of Keswick’s approaches in the third quarter featured smooth combinations between forwards and backs. Rigby scored on the left after a good run and pass by Thompson, and just after being stopped one foot short of the try line, Stephen Hodgson picked up a loose ball lost in contact and galloped home from 55 metres. Keswick could have scored more and during a frantic period of heavy pressure in the mid-second half, efforts by Joe Bagnall, Carrick Wharmby and Karl Smyth to name but three, were stopped short, or bundled into touch, by desperate last ditch Moresby defence.
Moresby never stopped trying to attack, but their ‘catch-up’ approach was risky and their speculative kick direct to Rigby allowed a finish under the crossbar and a fourth try for Keswick’s on-form left winger.
Dom Maguire continued his scoring habit with a 67th minute try in the left corner. The achievement owed much to a determined dual contribution by free-running fellow front-row-forward Mike Tait, and the well-conceived continuation of the passing sequence by Storey, Thompson and the hard-working Karl Smyth. Pushing to the end Keswick twice messed up when forward passes indicated an absence of necessary depth. This issue was addressed and corrected in the move which created a final, deserved try for the industrious Joe Quail. Ireland kicked 4 second half conversions.
March 16, 2015
KENDAL â€˜A 15 points â€“ KESWICK 45.
Keswick beat Kendal â€˜Aâ€™ at Davidson Park in November but the 45-5 scoreline on that occasion failed to do justice to Kendal â€™Aâ€™s abilities and effort. Since then Kendal â€˜Aâ€™ achieved a draw against league leaders Silloth and were therefore not a team that Keswick could afford to underrate.
Keswick were pleased to welcome scrum half Jim Creighton back to the side and his accurate distribution and calming influence provided the disciplined kick-start for Keswickâ€™s best attacks. Together with stand-off Paul Ireland Creighton helped move Keswick around the pitch and the hard hitting straightness of skipper Jamie McKenzie always ensured the gain of hard yards in midfield. The Keswick pack were soon into their stride and with Aaron Thompson and Tom Partington prominent soon developed a significant edge. Keswickâ€™s first half tries were scored by McKenzie and Carrick Wharmby and points from two conversions and a penalty were added by Ireland. Kendal scored a try in reply but to Keswick this was not indicative of the start of a meaningful comeback.
The early second half demonstrated Keswickâ€™s comfort and Bruce Rigbyâ€™s try from a snapped up Kendal error helped re â€“ enforce Keswickâ€™s confidence. With the ball moved to space Keswick were clearly the superior team, a point emphasised when tries were added by Partington, Stephen Hodgson and Ireland. Ireland added four more conversions in the second half for a personal haul of 20 points. Kendal â€˜Aâ€™ scored two tries which made the scoreline more respectable and reminded Keswick of the dangers of switching-off.
CUNBRIAN LEAGUE DIVISION 2.
AMBLESDIE 20 points â€“ KESWICK â€˜Aâ€™ 7.
With a squad of 18 players, Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ achieved the win of the season last week at Hawcoat Park â€˜Aâ€™. In contrast things looked decidedly shaky when 11 members of that side were unavailable to play in this match. A viable team was selected but that was undermined by further back-words and the playing stock was exhausted. Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ have previous for travelling light and this time the 13 man team included Matty Atkinson and Oliver MacPherson both of whom were nursing hand injuries, Mike Branthwaite, â€™aroundâ€™ and typically willing to help out in the crisis, and Jonny Howson who travelled from Manchester to re-claim his place.
Miraculously Keswick had a player in every position and were generously lent a specialist tight head prop by Ambleside. He was 51 and struggled with the pace of the warm up but he was a rock solid practitioner built to shore, and, most importantly his inclusion meant that Keswick skipper Joe Quail could retreat down the scrum from prop to a more familiar berth at no8.
On a drab afternoon the match soon became a victim of the extremely heavy pitch, a far from ideal surface for Keswickâ€™s young whippets but one which bothered them less thanks to their vast experience of school bogs and their clear edge in fitness. Keswick bravely attempted to put pace on the game and instantly alerted to the threat Amblesideâ€™s bigger older forwards adopted a very conservative â€˜tightâ€™ approach.
Keswickâ€™s main challenges became stopping Ambleside with effective tackles and winning clean possession. In this respect the â€˜hitsâ€™ in advance of the gain line made by stand-off MacPherson, and at the lineout the spring of the admirable Atkinson, did the trick and more than compensated for a Keswick set scrum which lost ball and flew backwards at a considerable rate of knots.
Joe Quail was an inspirational figure for Keswick, matching MacPherson for tackle count and smashing through traffic to make the hard yards. Quailâ€™s cutting edge provided a beacon for the willing support of apprentice scrum half Louis Cornforth and, younger still, at flanker and centre respectively, schoolboys Lewis Bell and Colin Squires. Keswick were so bursting with good attitude that even the loss through injury of lock Scott Hildreth, and the concession of a 10th minute try and conversion were perceived as mere minor setbacks. Ambleside were held at bay, Keswickâ€™s rush defence made chaos for Amblesideâ€™s ponderous half backs and only over-elaboration when simpler approaches would have sufficed, deflected Keswickâ€™s attempts to score. A good halfâ€™s effort was blown by a 39th minute Ambleside try which took maximum advantage of Keswickâ€™s slowness to drift. Still, at half-time Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ were as happy as you can be with a 0-12 score line.
The second half soon became a hard hitting dog fight with ebb and flow and then more sustained Keswick pressure rewarded with a try from the top drawer. The 55th minute effort was created from nothing and proved that even in a morass â€˜class will-outâ€™. There was half way line belligerence from Ambleside but then a sublime break by Branthwaite which split the â€˜first upâ€™ defence. Branthwaiteâ€™s run made nonsense of the cloying conditions and took him to a piece of relatively decent ground populated by Amblesideâ€™s last two defenders. Atkinson backed up superbly and as he took Branthwaiteâ€™s expertly delivered pass he also swerved to wrong foot his marker. Atkinson then showed hitherto undiscovered expertise as a goal kicker and with Keswick in the ascendency the margin was 5 points.
Keswick really needed a quick score and penalties well kicked to the corner by MacPherson offered scoring opportunities. Ambleside doggedly fought their way clear and aided by some Keswick misjudgements it was Ambleside who seized the initiative. Keswick made good tackles but also conceded penalties and twice after rejecting a more appropriate territorial kicking option, ran into trouble and conceded penalties at unnecessary breakdowns. These led to intolerable pressure and despite heroic defensive efforts involving the whole line but most conspicuously Quail, Branthwaite and Bell a 70th minute Ambleside try effectively sealed the result. Keswick had no replacements, which hurt, and the effect of this shortcoming was emphasised by the appearance of no fewer than five sets of fresh legs representing Ambleside.
In the final 10 minutes Keswick attacked again and runs by Cornforth, Squires and Branthwaite would undoubtedly have continued, and had more favourable results, on a drier pitch. Ambleside drove as a wedge and added points with a 78th minute penalty. The game ended with Keswick still trying at maximum pitch deep inside the Ambleside half.
This was a thoroughly entertaining mud bath, with a final scoreline that belied the closeness of the contest. Keswick battled against the odds after a bunch of pre match setbacks which would have unsettled lesser sides.
KESWICK 34 points â€“ PENRITH â€˜Aâ€™ 0.
Keswick rediscovered some form and confidence in victory and were delighted to achieve a clean sheet, but for the second time this season Penrith â€˜Aâ€™ made Keswick work hard for the winning points.
With tries by Jamie McKenzie and Robert Bland and a conversion by Paul Ireland Keswick led 12-0 at half time. Keswick generated greater pace and intensity after the interval and were well served by â€˜man of the matchâ€™ hooker Ben Bentham, returnee forward Paul Henderson and debutant Joe Bagnall. Tries were added by James Hinkley, Tom Partington and Bruce Rigby and Ireland kicked two more conversions and a penalty.
Keswick now face some stiff challenges to finish the season, inconvenienced by much unavailability of numerous key players.
CUMBRIAN LEAGUE – DIVISION 2.
HAWCOAT PARK â€˜Aâ€™ 5 points -KESWICK â€˜Aâ€™ 30.
Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ fielded a very young but strong side for their visit to South Cumbria. Previously this season in two matches against Hawcoat Park â€˜Aâ€™ Keswick have won narrowly and lost not so narrowly. It helped massively that this was the first time for an away match this season that Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ have had three replacements and there is no doubt that the team was additionally boosted by the presence of the exiled Peter Weightman. This was vital; during a rough game Keswick lost Josh Clark, Andy Wallace, Matty Atkinson and Max Scales through injury, and were therefore grateful for the back-up provided by rising schoolboy stars Jason Welford, James Sant and Tom Maguire. Keswick stuck to their tactical plan and refused to be intimidated.
Playing with the wind Keswick passed accurately and were soon building moves which allowed them to escape from their â€˜22â€™. Stand-off Andy Wallace, Weightman and Sam Jackson combined well in the Keswick midfield and their slick passes negotiated the rush of a noisy and very aggressive defence. Weightman broke from 60 metres and went the distance to score a glorious 2nd minute try and this was the calming confidence booster that Keswickâ€™s youngsters needed. Wallace ran the show from stand off and when he had to retire Lewis Thompson moved up from fullback and was instantly similarly authoritative. Thompson had not played a full competitive match for three seasons and on the basis of this performance his return is something to be celebrated.
Also influential after a significant lay-off was number 8 James Benson. Operating at the base of an underweight pack, Benson kept a cool head and despite the nudge which regularly disrupted the Keswick set scrum his skilled actions formed the basis for repeated Keswick attacks. Keswick were similarly successful at the lineout where the athleticism of jumpers Matty Atkinson and Joe Greenwell more than compensated for Keswickâ€™s shortfall in physical presence. Props Joe Quail and Dom Maguire and loose forwards Lewis Bell and Christian Sellars worked hard in set and loose and after a brilliantly executed passing move up the left of the pitch involving Thompson, Jackson, Toby Williams and Bell, Benson took the final pass and scored a try in the corner.
Between Keswick attacks Hawcoat looked competent and capable of breaking free at any time. What stopped them doing so was resolute Keswick defence in which Quail and Sellars set the highest example, and, proved once again that bottle and superior technique can overcome mere ballast. Keswickâ€™s two tries before half time were necessary given the wind advantage and came after hacks up-field replaced the earlier preferred handling manoeuvres. Hawcoat were pressed back and twice succumbed after being dispossessed attempting counter attacks. Both tries were scored by Thompson, one with a cut made through the narrowest of gaps and another when his pace took him around an exhausted defence sucked in by some short straight plays implemented to perfection by the Keswick pack. Thompson kicked one first- half conversion.
Against the wind Keswick made a great start to the second-half and in pursuit of the kick-off, scrum half Louis Cornforth made ground and fed Benson. Benson charged on and nearly scored but under pressure on the 5 metre line Hawcoat slowed ruck ball and Benson kicked the resultant penalty.
It was a priceless score against the wind and aware of the advantages of the long boot to the corner it soon became Hawcoatâ€™s turn to attack. Keswickâ€™s defensive effort continued to be effective and the tackling stint which followed was a fine example of inspired team spirit and collective faultless technique. Quail led the tackle count, but others followed the skipperâ€™s outstanding example. Keswickâ€™s defence was brilliant, and when their close charges failed Hawcoatâ€™s big pack had no effective plan B.
Counter attacking at every opportunity Cornforth, Williams, Weightman and Sellars led charges which cleared danger and after a resumption of Keswick pressure inside the Hawcoat â€˜22â€™ Cornforth wriggled over the try line from 15 metres for Keswickâ€™s fifth try. Keswick followed this with some more adventurous attacking rugby, some of which emanated from Bensonâ€™s breaks from a more solid scrum and much from loose ball claimed by exemplary courage at the breakdown. Keswick attacked from all points and Jackson, Weightman, Williams and Cornforth featured in sparkling attacking moves which tested a stretched Hawcoat defence. Hawcoat Park scrambled well and some of Keswickâ€™s moves unluckily failed on the last pass.
Hawcoatâ€™s 72nd minute consolation try arrived as a result of a long kick to the corner from where Keswick had affected so many previous escapes. This time Keswick conceded two penalties and, from the second, one of Hawcoatâ€™s biggest forwards blasted his way to the line.
Keswick played the final minutes of the match holding position the half way line, protecting their 25 point lead, and successfully claiming a great victory.
WINDERMERE 18 points â€“ KESWICK 9.
Pre-match proceedings culminated in a minutes silence dedicated to the memory of Dave Etherden. Dave was well known to the Keswick players and recognised as a genuine and dedicated advocate of their best interests. There is unanimous belief amongst the players that he will be impossible to replace.
That said, Dave would be the first to say that the show must go on and what better place to demonstrate an obligation to raise glum spirits on a Saturday afternoon than on a rugby pitch? Keswick beat Windermere in a close contest at Keswick in October and were under no illusions that this would be anything other than a hard match. Keswick had a very clear vision of how to win; a thinly attended Thursday training session had identified an appropriate game plan, and with only two players missing from what is currently considered the strongest team, feelings of optimism seemed justified.
The match quickly developed into a stalemate played between the â€˜22â€™s with Keswick shading possession, clearly appearing to be the side most prepared to spread the ball, but sadly lacking the penetrative menace to gain anything from the tactic. From the start of the game and throughout Keswick dominated the lineout and it was frustrating to see Keswick achieve so little with this possession. Windermere boxed and isolated Keswick runners into blind alleys and with an absence of the very variety implicit in the game plan Keswick were far too often caught in possession.
Keswick failures in attack were invariably the start point for Windermereâ€™s most successful attacks and when a slow Keswick drift allowed an escape to space by their left winger even Brian Storeyâ€™s superb last ditch tackle could not hide the fact that Windermere should have scored. One minute later after a very close failure from a penalty kick at goal and an indecisive clearance, Keswick were again slow to drift in defence and faced by a follow up attack, fallible in the tackle. Windermere thus claimed a 14th minute lead and with it a critical boost to morale.
Keswick retaliated with a slightly quicker and, as a result, more effective version of their earlier approach. This was mainly inspired by the efforts of the pack whose principals Tom Partington, Carrick Wharmby and Mike Tait in turn took advantage of passes made quickly and made blockbusting charges which scattered the first-up defence. From a lineout expertly stolen by Aaron Thompson Keswick centres Robert Bland and Jamie McKenzie cut their best lines hitherto and it seemed fleetingly as if Keswick had clicked. Keswickâ€™s next biggest problem then became that of completion and this was demonstrated by repeated failures to produce the immediate support necessary to bring such promising penetrations to fruition. When passes were not or could not be made the ball became log-jammed, mainly at Windermereâ€™s instigation, and twice, agonisingly close to their goal line Windermere conceded the penalty rather than allow Keswick quick possession.
With both sides afflicted by inefficiency and inertia in attack as much as increasingly efficient defence the only other scores of the half were achieved by penalties; one to Windermere and three to Keswick, kicked by Paul Ireland. Keswick deserved their half time lead but knew that ultimate success would depend on their ability to add tries.
Windermere were a re vitalised side after the interval and despite their continued failure at the lineout relied on the other sources of possession to set up and maintain shop in Keswick territory. Without dominating proceedings Windermere kept Keswick at bay, mainly through the efficiency of their offensive tackling but, in possession, with close drives which always committed defenders and produced obvious places to go next. Windermereâ€™s kicking game to the corners was accurate and demonstrated good local knowledge and Keswick were relieved when the alert thinking of Storey and the pace and toughness of replacement winger Oliver MacPherson rescued them from perilous situations created by such kicks. Keswickâ€™s only attack during the third quarter was curtailed by a penalty conceded when an unlikely switch inadvertently became a â€˜crossingâ€™ offence.
Windermere missed a very easy straight penalty kick in the 60th minute and Keswick breathed a sigh of relief. Their relief was short lived and when Windermere finally took the lead the try came from the least likely of sources. A lineout on the 22 metre line was decisively claimed by Windermere who immediately set up a driving maul around the catcher. With no warning of Windermereâ€™s proficiency in this department Keswick were caught out and against panicked and ineffective resistance the drive was continued all the way to the try line. Keswick were in a state of disarray and when the maul was partially collapsed the referee awarded a penalty try and sin binned a Keswick offender. The conversion was kicked and Keswick were 9-15 down.
Keswick kept trying to make things happen and runs from defence by McKenzie, Macpherson and Bland suggested the possibility of a fight-back. There was much to recommend the sterling effort of the Keswick pack who maintained their fighting spirit throughout a fourth-quarter period of revival where they were still clearly below their best. Numerous moves attempted by Keswick were compromised by error and when they were not Windermere were a determined side organised sufficiently well to take the sting out of Keswickâ€™s improvised attacks. A Windermere penalty kicked from an unlikely position close to the touchline summed up Keswickâ€™s day. With the loss even of the loserâ€™s bonus point, the subsequent failure of a pick-and-go sequence which was ended by a Windermere turn-over 5 metres from the try line, was indicative of a very frustrating escapade.
CUMBRIAN LEAGUE DIVISION 2
KESWICK â€˜Aâ€™ 24 points â€“ UPPER EDEN â€˜Aâ€™ 31.
Keswick and Upper Eden are significant movers in the battle to keep rugby below 1st XV level alive and this fast competitive match was a great advert for second tier Cumbrian rugby.
Preservation is a battle some clubs have already lost and cynics would advocate that Keswick and Upper Eden are merely losing the battle more slowly. The problem of regular player availability is currently acute but Keswick, like Upper Eden persevere with a policy of always honouring â€˜Aâ€™ XV fixtures. This initiative works because of the dedicated hard core of consistently available players and elastic competition rules which encourage the loan of players to undermanned teams.
Itâ€™s always better to have 15 players but this was only Keswickâ€™s third match this season where no such swaps or loans were necessary. This therefore represented a victory both for persistence and a selection system modified to deflect the scatter damage caused by unexpected mass declarations of unavailability. It also confirmed that Keswick have plenty players, particularly if the match is at â€˜homeâ€™ but that they are not always available at the same time.
Keswickâ€™s squad was boosted by the appearance of two players who had not been selected; – not the sort of thing that happens when the team is depleted, but welcome nonetheless. This meant Keswick had 21 players and that in order to create fair pitch-time some rotation would be necessary. Upper Eden â€˜Aâ€™ were similarly well stocked but were a side composed of older and significantly bigger and heavier players than Keswick. This was a familiar situation to those Keswickians who have played in recent matches against Upper Eden â€˜Aâ€™. These have become contests of contrasting styles and a fascinating challenge because of that.
As usual Upper Eden â€˜Aâ€™ set out to prove that size matters and blessed with a muscular pack and threequarters bigger than most Keswick forwards, their possession was efficiently claimed, kept close, and was always under control. Upper Eden â€˜Aâ€™ dictated the early phases. Keswick were pre-occupied with tackling and in this respect were best served by Joe Quail, Oliver MacPherson and Christian Sellars. When they were not tackling Keswick were chasing back, enjoying very little time to construct the moves which would consistently release their clearly faster backs. The visitorsâ€™ attack was extremely effective; Upper Eden missed an easy straight penalty shot at goal but from a 5-metre lineout Keswick were rooted to the back-foot where a panicked clearance kick went high but barely made it back into the field of play. Upper Eden â€˜Aâ€™ were 5 points to the good and Keswick had not even mounted a worthwhile attack.
Keswick had to run all vestiges of possession but at first did not. Kicks which returned possession to Upper Eden were not in Keswickâ€™s best interests and illustrated a lack of confidence. Resisting the kicking option, it took runs from defence by Louis Cornforth and Stephen Hodgson to alert Keswick to the obvious. Oliver Dunn was the wide striker at the end of a cross-field move in which each Upper Eden marker was beaten with a well-timed pass. Dunn ran well but was tackled into touch. Â Keswick â€™Aâ€™ held the position and maintained momentum through a move which crossed the field twice. Speedy loose forward Oliver MacPherson skilfully stepped inside his marker to score. Dunn kicked the conversion and Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ were ahead.
Thus the match pattern was established; Upper Eden showed the advantages of tactical understanding and highly experienced game management that deflected Keswick and always returned them to the lead. In their efforts to slow Keswick down the visitors were prepared to concede penalties and this pragmatism sucked Keswick into precisely the kind of game they did not want.Â Patterns of play established in the first 15 minutes were repeated in the second 15, and for the rest of the match. Upper Eden scored their second and third tries from clinically developed, error free, remorseless forward pressure but a second Keswick try, this time brilliantly finished by Cornforth was from a move started from 70 metres with a risk by scrum half Sam Hooper. Recognising the cues this was continued â€˜off the cuffâ€™ at pace with inventive flourishes by Dean Robinson, Hodgson and Toby Williams.
Keswickâ€™s challenge was to break the scoring pattern and, in the hope that they could outlast them, stay close to Upper Eden on the scoreboard. Keswick trailed at half time 12-19.
Keswickâ€™s half-time changes replaced like with like and whilst producing a latent shift of emphasis neither strengthened nor depleted the side. Â The experienced Aaron Thompson immediately made hard yards in areas previously designated â€˜no goâ€™ and in doing so inspired similar adventure in others. Benefitting also from more favourable penalty decisions, Keswick achieved some encouraging momentum, kept ball alive through offloads and the early pass, and for the first time in the match tested Upper Edenâ€™s forwards on the back-foot.
Keswick at last had a platform for the provision of fast possession, but away from the forwards Upper Eden began to make better tackles and Keswick were slow to re-establish the wide cutting edge which had defined their best first â€“half attacks. To compensate Keswick became increasingly dependent on loose forwards Quail, MacPherson and Hodgson to continue moves attempted in closer channels. This played into Upper Edenâ€™s hands somewhat and despite abundant effort Keswick stalled.
Upper Eden seized the obvious advantage and with momentum achieved by a well co-ordinated rush, established a clear lead with their fourth try. It was a big blow for Keswick but one which at least inspired the â€˜catch upâ€™ mentality which fuelled their response. Knowing that they had to score next Keswick worked their way into the visitorâ€™s half, first with a daring run from defence by Williams continued with a series of short carries targeting the blind side. The move was well sustained but Upper Eden slowed the ball and were awarded a scrum on the edge of their â€˜22â€™. Despite Upper Edenâ€™s weight advantage Keswick had experienced only occasional rapid retreat, and had lost no scrum possession. Admirable Keswick resistance here led to a careless spillage at the base of the scrum from which Robinson was able to dribble and pounce for an opportunist try. Josh Clark kicked a tricky conversion and Keswick were back in the game at 19-26.
The dual switch of MacPherson and Hodgson from the pack to the back division was an attempt to vary Keswickâ€™s attacking threat, re-establish the cutting edge of the first half and as an imperative, – score next. With the changes barely completed and with no chance to test their effectiveness, Upper Eden drove hard into the inside left channel and with powerful support for deft handling runners, a try was scored to the wide left of the posts.
One again Keswick had to adopt an unambiguous catch-up mentality and, inspired by their never-say-die skipper Quail, this was delivered wholeheartedly. Keswickâ€™s grandstand finish was begun by Thompson who caught a kick under pressure inside the Keswick â€˜22â€™ and charged through the chasing posse all the way to the edge of the Upper Eden â€˜22â€™. It was a fine run indicative of a side with nothing to lose and Keswick seized the opportunity on offer. Keswick dominated the next 5 minutes, and after further good advances by the Keswick pack both Robinson and Hooper were unlucky not to wriggle free.Â From another tap penalty Quail drove forward and a ruck was set 25 metres â€˜outâ€™. Arriving quickly and in force the Keswick pack immediately outnumbered their retreating opponents and Sellars made a quick advance into the heart of the visitorâ€™s â€˜22â€™. Sellars was tackled but Upper Edenâ€™s defence was off side at the resultant ruck. Signalling advantage to Keswick, even though Upper Eden were in possession, the referee intelligently sensed the impossibility of the predicament and called â€˜play onâ€™. When Upper Edenâ€™s left winger fluffed his clearance kick under pressure Keswickâ€™s Lewis Bell was in the right place at the right time to retrieve the ball and score Keswickâ€™s fourth try.
â€˜There was time for an unlikely Keswick equaliser but true to form Upper Eden â€˜Aâ€™ delivered a textbook demonstration of how to close a game.
KESWICK 7 points â€“ SILLOTH 24.
Having played and lost to Silloth twice already this season Keswick knew that they should expect a very hard match. Harder in fact than the two previous encounters; Silloth have a big squad of players and are adding to that squad all the time. Silloth are a highly motivated side built with promotion in mind, who on their way to the top of the League, have dished out some severe beatings and only suffered one defeat. A large crowd of spectators were entertained by an absorbing but uncompromisingly intense contest in which the Keswick effort was not reflected in the final score.
Silloth took advantage of Keswickâ€™s first loss of possession and took a 4th minute lead. A try to the right of the posts was swiftly executed and was indicative of Sillothâ€™s ambition and highly strung directness. It was a poor start for Keswick, the try was easily converted and Keswick were already chasing the game. Stung by the setback and aware of the implications of allowing Silloth similar opportunities Keswick became instantly orientated into recovery mode and began this with a solid set scrum from which Tom Partington made good ground to the right. This was followed by two well centred rucks which produced the fast possession which was essential to the game plan and a good catch under pressure by debutant wingman James Sant. A sweeping move which released right winger Stephen Hodgson was ended by Sillothâ€™s scrambled defence but the move nearly worked and showed Keswick what was possible.
Keswick worked hard and, whilst restricting Silloth to only occasional break outs began to play their best rugby for weeks. Keswick were inspired by the lionhearted efforts of pack leader Carrick Wharmby whose management of Keswickâ€™s excellently executed close game was exemplary. The example was infectious and strong runs by Graeme Marshall, Partington and Mike Tait split Silloth at the edges and created essential momentum. Against a much bigger pack Keswickâ€™s set scrum improved and, as confidence grew, unexpectedly claimed a marginal upper-hand. Keswick developed their moves with good passing, and conscientiously maintained support. Paul Ireland, who miss-hit a 20th minute penalty shot at goal, and Brian Storey, began to kick accurately for the corners, and by the late stages of the first quarter Keswick could claim to be in control of the match.
It was closer to the Silloth try line that Keswick experienced their greatest difficulties and here that Sillothâ€™s commitment was most graphically and noisily demonstrated. Sillothâ€™s defence was of the â€˜brick-wallâ€™ variety based on minimum deployment of ruck-guards in favour of a thickly reinforced edge. Sillothâ€™s swift organization was helped by a well- coordinated advance, the consistent delivery of heavy duty â€˜hitsâ€™, and the subsequent skilled slowing of Keswick tackle ball. As the half wore on Keswickâ€™s more controlled approach produced hard yard advances by the forwards followed by breaks by threequarters Hodgson, Jamie McKenzie and Robert Bland. Keswick created some very promising positions but fluffed their lines at successive 5-metre lineouts, failed to exploit the rare space discovered at the end of an innovative cross kick by Ireland, and remained thwarted at the brick-wall.
Keswick were rewarded for their first half efforts with a 37th minute try. This came from a 5- metre scrum where Keswickâ€™s straight push resisted Sillothâ€™s panicked attempts to wheel and, securing the ball in the chaos, Tait dived through a sea of legs to score. Ireland kicked the conversion points. Keswick ended the half on top and resisted the chance to claim points from a penalty shot at goal in favour of a kick to the corner. Silloth lost a player to the sin bin and Keswick didnâ€™t add to their score.
The second half began badly for Keswick. Sillothâ€™s forwards ran hard at the fringe of Keswickâ€™s defence and effectively and consistently broke the gain line. With great kicking support from their master strategist Stoddart at stand-off Silloth set their stall for a period of complete control firstly rewarded with a soft try scored in the right hand corner and soon afterwards a penalty awarded for Keswickâ€™s offside. As significant as points conceded, the real damage to Keswickâ€™s cause during this period was denial by 14-man Silloth of any worthwhile possession.
Keswick worked massively hard to recover and after a series of crashing rucks, the claim of a scrum heel against the head, and the first signs of anxiety in the Silloth defence, the award of a penalty allowed Keswick their first visit to the Silloth â€˜22â€™. Keswick emerged from their malaise with their fighting spirit intact but after finishing the first half so well were chasing the game faced with the confusing conundrum posed by a 10 point deficit.
In so close a match where the ramifications of every decision made by referee and player alike can be magnified out of all proportion Keswickâ€™s decision(s) not to keep more of their mid pitch possession in the forwards, nor kick for goal from penalties, proved critical. During a fifteen minute period in the mid half when Keswick looked strong, confident and monopolised possession, they drove Silloth backwards mostly with smashâ€“ups by the forwards. Â Keswick were less successful attacking wider channels but the hard-yarding of centres McKenzie and Bland always attracted numbers of defenders and therefore momentarily at least created close channels through which the likes of Marshall, Tait and fellow prop James Hinkley were ever willing to drive. Silloth were suddenly out-paced and under pressure and Keswick were awarded seven penalties. Not all of these offered easy kicks at goal but the attraction of a seven point try which offered a- â€˜quick-fixâ€™ rapidly supressed the appeal of pointsâ€™ acquisition by slower, easier, means. Try scoring attempts from â€˜runâ€™ ball and re set scrums which would have achieved tries against less street wise sides than Silloth failed and repeated awards created dilemma and huge confusion. Â Generally Silloth defended well, and legally, and the physical advantages of having big forwards who can more naturally plug the defensive line was plain to see. The sacrifice of a second Silloth player lost to the sin bin was merely a price Silloth were prepared to pay and Silloth successfully weathered the storm.
Keswickâ€™s real punishment occurred when Silloth broke out of defence and turned what was a clearing counter attack into a try scoring opportunity. Keswick were turned and then outflanked as Silloth sealed the game with their third try and conversion.
January 29, 2015
KESWICK RUGBY CLUB NEWS.
Despite the attraction of the Edinburgh tour which rendered over two thirds of Keswickâ€™s current regular playing stock â€˜unavailableâ€™, Keswickâ€™s painstakingly assembled alternative 1st XV squad to face Netherhall in a re-arranged Cumbrian League match was enthused if inexperienced.Â It was certainly not the case that the confirmation of Netherhallâ€™s sad predicament, and postponement of the match was viewed as some kind of relief; Keswickâ€™s rookies and experienced players were desperate to prove themselves against the leagueâ€™s bottom club and were as sad to miss the opportunity as they were nonplussed to hear of Netherhallâ€™s final, painful disappearance from the Cumbrian rugby scene. Winter Saturdays without rugby can be injurious to the body clock, and will diminish team-spirit and the continuity essential in creating and developing consistent availability and performance. Clubhouses stripped of both their regulars and their â€˜occasionals,â€™ and their supporters, are deserted and unhealthy, and European TV rugby is a poor substitute for the real thing.
Restored to full-strength, Keswick were due to play at Netherhall in a scheduled return match this Saturday. This cannot now happen and with no-one to play the postponement creates a frustrating three week gap between first XV matches. It is said that Netherhallâ€™s record will now be expunged, so, after adjustments have been made, being the only club in the league not to have not played Netherhall, nor having played for three weeks, Keswickâ€™s league position will be altered for the better.
Davidson Park hosted a very busy day on Sunday where the Junior rugby agenda was predominant and the traditionally busy post-Christmas programme officially became â€˜full-swingâ€™. Players from every junior level from under-8s to u-16 were involved in either training or matches and 104 Keswick players took part in the dayâ€™s activity.
Top of the bill were Keswick under-16s who entertained Millom. The match took place on the main Davidson Park pitch which appeared a bit chewed up after the previous Saturdayâ€™s 1st XV mud-bath, coincidentally also against Millom, and had clearly lacked the restorative talents of holidaying grounds man John Clark. Any thoughts that the slow surface might produce a slow game were quickly dispelled as Keswick hit top gear early, established a winning lead and whilst playing lots of inventive, crowd pleasing rugby, maintained an operating speed that was always too hot for the visitors.
Keswick visit Millom in the Cumbrian Cup round 1 on 22nd February.
Keswickâ€™s try scorers in the 62 â€“ 7 points victory were George Holme, Austin Taylor 2, Ali Hewett -Smith, Oliver Dyer, Harry Vaillant, Jack Wilson, Luke Chambers and Adam Price 2. Conversions were scored by Matt Price 4, and Harry Vaillant 2.
Keswick under-15s have experienced some manpower issues during the first half of the season and with strong Keswick sides above and below them have suffered additionally damaging attention deficit.Â Despite their troubled start the hard core have remained dedicated to the task and now with 15 players and a supply of extremely competent under-14s to call upon when required the team are in a position to resume fixtures. It could have been less than ideal that Sundayâ€™s opponents Upper Eden, clearly confronting manpower issues of their own, arrived with only 9 players. To save the fixture the Keswick squad was split into two teams by coach Peter Sant, these were Reds and Hoops captained by Henry Etisoy and Will Westle respectively; and a 3-way 7 a-side competition was scrambled.
The players adapted quickly to the demanding 7s format and a series of matches featuring some very hard and fast play was superbly refereed by Keswick coach Jonny Hume. At first Upper Eden appeared to be out manoeuvred by Keswick Redsâ€™ smaller faster players but with solid tackling and ball produced from â€˜1 on 1â€™ situations the visitors utilised their muscle and soon discovered some form. Expressing themselves best through use of their exceptional pace, Keswick Reds remained unbeaten throughout the competition and Upper Eden won one of their matches against Keswick Hoops.
Keswick under-13s and under-14s trained on the Davidson Park training pitch in a session expertly led by senior player Jacob Tonkin. Fast ruck ball and correctness in contact formed the basis of a tough session which hammered some bags and then moved on to a match. The close confines of the training area ensured there was plenty of contact, closely observed by Jacob and assiduously delivered by the players. The under-14s finished by taking on an u-15s side at 7s, it was a tough and close match won by the under-15s 8 tries -5.
Keswick under-12s, under-10s and u-8s trained on the top plot in sessions led by Alan Weightman, assisted by Ade Kearton, and by Tim Green. Keswick under-12s who are becoming more tactically astute and getting tougher by the week still need more players but will continue to train and play matches with the current hard-core of 10.
Keswick under-10s are playing in a Newcastle Falcons competition on Sunday and dedicated their session to developing some sharpness ahead of the event. â€˜When weâ€™re finished weâ€™re going to watch some real rugbyâ€™ said one of their spokespersons. Keswick under 8s concentrated on specifics ahead of this Sundayâ€™s visit to Netherhall.
In the afternoon there was a training session for Cumbria County Girls under-18 and under-15s squads. 21 players were present which represented a decent turn-out on a day where another 9 Cumbrian girls attended RFU Northern Division trials being held at Stockport. At Keswick, the short -lived but extremely heavy rain arrived quickly and created a muddy surface which additionally challenged the players in a session which concentrated on control of the ball in contact, communication and decision making. The players worked hard and did well and there were particularly impressive contributions from the Keswick representatives Molly Cook, Nicki Flemming, Ruby Nicholson and Kennedy Wright.
At the RFU trials held at Stockport Keswick were represented by under-18s Heather Creighton, Emily Pratt and Evie Tonkin. Keswickâ€™s under-15 representatives were Harriet Dobson, Francheska Horsburgh and Kate Birchall. At both levels the players were subject to a tough examination of their skills and ability which were performed during drills and match play situations. Â As a result of the trials Evie Tonkin has been selected to represent The RFU Northern Division.
KESWICK 53 points â€“ MILLOM 7.
After four days of rain sleet and snow there were grave doubts concerning Davidson Parkâ€™s suitability for play. A Friday evening inspection of the pitch concluded that it was waterlogged in places and un-playable and it was assumed that any drop of precipitation on Friday night would confirm this grim assessment. Surprisingly, Saturdayâ€™s early morning inspection revealed that no significant deterioration had occurred and that with no morning rain forecast things could only get better. It was a close decision, the pitch was not perfect; the situation was explained to Millom with no equivocation and the mutually agreed decision was that the match should go ahead.
The underfoot conditions that would eventually deteriorate to create a very sloppy mess were at first of minor concern to the players. The game began under black skies and hadnâ€™t long been in progress before the arrival of ferocious hail. Despite the body-shock both sides aspired to impose their normal style, the hail passed, and the game developed into a close, evenly contested and highly competitive joust. With ball kept close Millom took the early territorial plaudits and scored and converted the gameâ€™s first try. In reply Keswick generally defended well and with the ball in the hands of Carrick Wharmby, Mike Tait and James Addyman drove back at Millom in a similar style. Backing the forwardsâ€™ effort and typically embracing the challenge of a change of position, Brian Storey was a busy and influential scrum-half. Keswick were awarded a penalty, kicked successful by Paul Ireland.
Both Millom and Keswick looked very much â€˜upâ€™ for the additional physicality that is the first by-product of a slow pitch. In contact, neither side took a backward-step, and when some ruck ball was deliberately slowed, and tempers were tested, the referee was called upon to ensure legality and discourage over-reaction.
In their most recent match at Egremont Keswick struggled for attacking fluency so it was pleasing to see the fruition of their conscientious efforts to restore some form. Keswick were equally determined to improve their discipline and in particular reduce their concession of penalties. That this was attempted in such unfavourable conditions, and against so awkward a side, was doubly admirable and spoke volumes for the exemplary attitude set by skipper Jamie McKenzie. Determined to correct the attacking drift which so retarded the effort at Egremont, McKenzie hit straighter lines and made sure this approach was copied by all Keswick runners. This particularly applied to forwards carrying close to the breakdown, and those forwards and backs occupying midfield channels. Keswickâ€™s straight approach slowly began to knock Millom backwards and signalled a key change in the mood and intensity of the game. When the atmosphere became more fractious Keswick showed good discipline, ran even harder for yards, and from penalties awarded gained additional good ground and an improved attacking platform.
Maintaining a good tempo, as Millom dropped off the pace, Keswick deserved the three tries scored before half time by Steve Hodgson, Sam Hooper and Tom Partington. Ireland kicked two conversions.
Keswick were in the driving seat and without being complacent knew that if they could make a good start to the second half, and better still, add an early score, then a bonus point was in the bag and a big win was possible. The biggest challenges remained the pitch conditions which were deteriorating rapidly and Millomâ€™s extreme determination to make life as difficult as possible. Keswickâ€™s best ploy was undoubtedly â€˜ball kept movingâ€™ and with a dominant set scrum, and an adequate line-out, delivering a healthy supply of safe possession, there was sufficient opportunity to impose the early- pass game which would tire and frustrate a fading opposition.
Keswick succeeded best when playing this way and driven by faith in their fitness and an increasingly hungry display by the forwards, were deflected sideways, or hit their only brick walls, when ball remained close-to or stuck in the melee. Good pre-contact passing skills were in evidence for tries scored by McKenzie 2, and Partington which exposed Millomâ€™s susceptibility to attacking overload and the enthused thrusts of Keswick forwards flooding the midfield. Thanks mainly to the pack-leaderâ€™s example set by Wharmby; Keswick dominated the favoured and now numerous fast- ball ruck. The subsequent running of adventurous support lines produced rich pickings for forwards Tait, Partington, Marshall and James Hinkley amongst others, who improvised impressively in the build ups to tries by Tait and centre Bruce Rigby which sealed an impressive victory. Ireland kicked three second half conversions.
KIRKBY LONSDALE â€˜Aâ€™ 98 points- KESWICK â€˜Aâ€™ 0.
Itâ€™s always a tough game at Kirkby Lonsdale and on this occasion Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ were a lot less well equipped to succeed than usual. There was lots of skidding and crashing on an icy and chaotic M6 but no trauma or injury was suffered by travelling Keswickians. The principal explanation for this nightmare result was that too many selected players declared unavailability and when selection based on the previous Saturdayâ€™s confirmed 20-man squad for the home match against Upper Eden â€˜Aâ€™ became 11 men for this match, the writing was on the wall.
Kirkby Lonsdale â€™Aâ€™ were pleased to welcome even a depleted Keswick side and showed their appreciation by lending two players. This was in keeping with the spirit of a league which survives by the skin of its teeth and relies for that survival on the principled approach of member clubs like Keswick. Kirkby Lonsdale â€˜Aâ€™ exercised their prerogative to play with one-man extra, only in this case it was two, and felt like 10. Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ players are used to honouring fixtures despite their teamâ€™s regular depletion. The pay-back comes in the form of occasional big scoring victories, more usually at home, but there is evidence that this morally dubious compensation discourages even more players. Everyone prefers a good close game and suddenly there are fewer of these.
The players lent by Kirkby Lonsdale â€˜â€™Aâ€™ were forwards, a lock and a prop, which was just as wellÂ as lightweight and inexperienced Keswick had no locks or props and 9 of their players were normally recognised as â€˜backsâ€™. Keswickâ€™s cause was Â then more seriously undermined by the necessary deployment in the pack of experienced and accomplished backs Oliver MacPherson at No 8 and Robert Bland at hooker. Apart from the relatively ancient Sam Jackson and Oliver Dunn, Bland and MacPherson were Keswickâ€™s next most experienced backs but were the only backs who could boast of any previous experience of life as a forward. â€˜Centres should never have to throw the ball into the lineoutâ€™ said Bland whose pre-match practice confirmed this theory. Keswick dedicated the second half of a five minute warm up to passing and remembering the names of the two guys from Kirkby.
Kirkby sussed out that Keswick were floundering in their pursuit of their most effective starting line-up and began the match with an unambiguous salvo clearly designed to unsettle a team full of youngsters. Kirkbyâ€™s running was straight and belligerent and only deviated when gaps between tacklers appeared. This was often, and regular try scoring was a feature of a breathless first quarter. Keswickâ€™s biggest problem was the complete absence of possession to call their own and an inability to stop the skilled offloads which invariably kept Kirkbyâ€™s high speed game on track. MacPherson, Christian Sellars, Joe Quail and Jackson did a lot more than their fair share of tackling but their commitment was costly and Quail and Sellarsâ€™ trademark bounce-up- ability, alternate phase tackling stints were not possible where the ball was moved so fast.
Ex-Keswick hero Johnny Howson appeared on the touchline while the score was in the twenties and his installation made possible the return of Bland to the centre. This and Howsonâ€™s extra pair of hands helped temporarily stem the flow, and from their first turnover, claimed from a ruck by a swooping hand, Keswick made ground through MacPherson. Macpherson ran well, evading at least three defenders, and passed from the tackle to Tom Maguire. Maguire made it to the Kirkby â€˜22â€™ before being tackled himself. Kirkby re grouped and against a badly fractured Keswick defence ran the length of the field to score.
It was not Keswickâ€™s day and rampant Kirkby piled on the agony. During a ten minute period at the end of the first half Jackson, Quail and a beleaguered Joe Greenwell, uncomfortable and badly exposed at full back, made great try saving tackles only to then see the ball popped-up to a supporting runner who strolled in to score. Guaranteed support on the back of the right pass was simply something that Kirkby were very good at and their reward was a 60 point half time lead.
Keswick had two second half objectives. One was to reduce Kirkbyâ€™s scoring rate and the other was to score a try of their own. Keswick were donated Kirkbyâ€™s biggest forward who was handy on the hoof but was too tall to fit comfortably into the Keswick scrum. Some good ground was made in the midfield when Quail and Howson broke tackles and Sellars continued the run in determined fashion. Sellars would not be knocked over but was barged into touch ten metres from glory. Runs by Jackson and rooky James Sant, and tackles made away from his wing by Maguire, offered further indications that things were improving but Keswickâ€™s set scrum continued to endure intolerable pressure and there were lots and lots of scrums. Despite the heroic efforts to protect and salvage some possession made by No 8 MacPherson, Andy Dixon at scrum half for Keswick persevered but endured a torrid time.
Keswick slowed the scoring rate and restored some pride during a battling third quarter. Bland and MacPherson both made half breaks which required the immediate support constantly available to those making breaks for Kirkby. Kirkby remained completely dedicated to keeping the clean-sheet and were good at punishing Keswickâ€™s losses of possession. Counter attacking well, with two quick tries scored from moves up the left wing, Kirkby restored their more punishing rate of scoring. Six second half tries were achieved, and four conversions made the score 98-0. In a sort of doomsday scenario the sky turned jet black and the sudden arrival of abundant stinging hail added injury to insult. Kirkby were decent enough to agree to the refereeâ€™s suggestion that there was no need to prolong the agony.
RUGBY CLUB NEWS.
EGREMONT 16 points â€“ KESWICK 12.
In this seasonâ€™s home match against Egremont played in October Keswick played very well and won 54 points-13. A comprehensive 78-12 victory in the most recent match at Creighton, a good recent record at Egremont and Egremontâ€™s recent poor form, indicated that Keswick had reasonable grounds for optimism. None of the current Keswick side had suffered defeat at Egremont but were reminded of the challenges traditionally associated with a difficult venue.
The good start that Keswick crave nosedived as a result of a poor kick-off chase and was only partially delivered in the plays which followed. With tackles which merely half-stopped Egremontâ€™s more enthused runners Keswick claimed little of the early momentum and territory, but after one counter break by James Addyman, Brian Storey was unlucky to miss a tricky penalty shot at goal. When Keswickâ€™s tackling improved it seemed Egremont had less to offer but with a viable plan-B they gained additional ground with big wind-assisted kicks. Keswick were turned by these and, against good chases, pinned back, sometimes deep and dangerously exposed, inside their â€˜22â€™. As usual Andy Wallace the Keswick full-back was safe under the high ball but from this precarious position Keswick were restricted to break outs, usually improvised from a standing start. Later, with Egremont again enjoying better field position, escapes by Wallace, Jamie McKenzie, Dean Robinson and Bruce Rigby came from scrambled but sound Keswick defence and suggested the exciting possibility of counter attack. Missing from Keswickâ€™s game however was that passing confidence and accuracy necessary for fruition; even handling during basic procedures began to go badly, and for a while, the harder Keswick tried the harder their luck became.
The game entered the second quarter with greater parity in all key areas but looking increasingly like a scoreless draw, a prospect alleviated when Egremont were awarded a penalty in front of goal. The kick was successful giving the home side a 3-0 lead. This could have provided the wake-up call Keswick needed but Keswick were again unsuccessful chasing the kick-off and Egremont attackers ran through second and third tackles to a good position on the edge of the Keswick â€™22â€™. Keswick re grouped quickly but Egremont maintained the move. With a sharp, straight break from stand-off, with ball kept alive and a well-timed last pass, Egremont were rewarded with a wingerâ€™s try in the right hand corner.
The game returned briefly to an attritional battle of containment, mainly played around the half way line, lacking craft and overly punctuated by the sound of the referees whistle. Even at this stage there were signs that in such a close match the issue of best discipline would be â€˜keyâ€™ and so it proved. Â Keswickâ€™s passing game improved but not enough to create the key move likely to unlock an increasingly switched-on Egremont defence. With 43 minutes on the first half clock a penalty awarded to Egremont allowed them a kick to the right corner where Keswick had to defend a lineout, and the last play of the half. Keswick won the lineout against the throw, an isolated stroke of luck for which they should have been grateful. Keswick believed the ball was â€˜made dead,â€™ but instead, a scrum was awarded from which Egremont scored. Whether through bad luck or bad judgement, Keswick were 0-13 down.
Keswick worked hard to establish some form but Egremont were equally conscientious in their protection of so narrow a lead. Scoring against organised defences has troubled Keswick this season and this was a defence instructed to keep penalty concession to a minimum and alert to the advantages of maintaining a high field position. Keswick were stymied by, Egremontâ€™s kicks aimed accurately at spaces, and by chases which stopped counter attacks, sometimes at source. Keswickâ€™s best progress was made from set piece possession where continuity was attempted through ball in hand advances made at close quarters. During a challenging third quarter Addyman, Graeme Marshall, Tom Partington, Carrick Wharmby and replacement Karl Smyth combined to establish some encouraging momentum which tested a stubborn defence but found no ultimate reward. To add to Keswickâ€™s woes, and making Egremontâ€™s lead a good deal safer at 16 points, a penalty was conceded and kicked against the run of play.
Keswick enjoyed no more success in wide positions although the efforts to straighten and penetrate made by Rigby, McKenzie and â€˜never-say-dieâ€™ wingman Sam Hooper were committed and deserving of better outcomes. Egremont remained very effective at moving up in defence and in closing available space and Keswick attacks were repeatedly forced sideways. More than once Hooper stepped inside in a quest for running room and despite some dedicated head-down blasts his success rate stuttered against insurmountable odds. Â More successfully, on the switch, Hooper found a destructive line and was a key player in the 64th minute move which eventually led to Keswickâ€™s first try. Partington and Marshall backed Hooperâ€™s initiative and following charges by Addyman and Mike Tait, and a penalty advantage signalled by the referee, the ball was moved quickly via Storey and Rigby to the right wing. Rigby timed the last pass perfectly and the move was expertly finished by Stephen Hodgson. On paper, Keswick were back in the game but beyond the resumption it was soon re -established that, close or wide, the key breakdowns were shaded by an Egremont defence enjoying the scent of victory and the benefits of liberal interpretation.
Keswick played their best ten minutes rugby at the close of the game and with the pace of play increased Egremont for once showed unmistakable signs of defensive strain. Keswick peppered the Egremont line with forceful runs by the forwards and, twice against the inconvenient presence of lazy-runners, wider thrusts by McKenzie, Rigby and Hodgson. Egremont held firm until once again, with the advantage signalled against them, they were split by Storeyâ€™s pass and Andy Muirâ€™s well timed cut through the gap. It was a second well worked score but too little too late for Keswick; Storey kicked the conversion and the referee blew the final whi