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
December 21, 2014
COUNTY GIRLSâ€™ RUGBY.
CUMBRIA 12 points â€“ DURHAM 5.
This match took place at Davidson Park and there were 8 Keswick RFC players in the Cumbria line-up. This was a great achievement eclipsed only by the fact that Cumbria won the match. In so doing Cumbria produced a surprise result, one which at last elevates their status from that of perennial wooden-spooners. Cumbria deserved their success built as it was on sound preparation, the foundation provided by a good start and the subsequent stubborn defence of a 12 point lead. Inspired from the front by Keswickians No 8 Emily Pratt and stand-off Evie Tonkin Cumbria dominated a breathless first half and the only worry as half time approached was that Cumbria might not have done enough to survive the anticipated Durham backlash.
Cumbriaâ€™s fast first-half play successfully consigned Durham to the back-foot. The main source of Cumbriaâ€™s attacks was provided by a hard working pack and in particular a strong set scrum which was rock-solid and produced an endless supply of quick and therefore runnable ball.Â Alternatively and dramatically the scrum also formed the launch pad for powerful runs by Pratt. These always breached the gain line, inspired an effective offload game, and ensured that the Cumbrian backs always enjoyed ball â€˜going forwardâ€™. In the centre Freya McDowell of Cockermouth ran a variety of destructive lines which troubled Durham constantly. McDowell was well supported by Keswickâ€™s Heather Creighton and Christina Tully when that combination was subdued there was intelligent support from full-back by Cockermouthâ€™s Corey Musgrave. When Durham had the ball Cumbria tackled with complete conviction and became clear winners of the battle at the breakdown. Such was Cumbriaâ€™s monopoly of possession and territory that Durham deserved credit for restricting the home side to only 2 first-half tries.
The second half saw a dramatic change in the flow of the action with a changed Cumbria line up hanging on for survival against a resurgent newly confident Durham. With changes and a re-shuffle which attempted unsuccessfully to paper over the gap left by the departed Pratt and the injured Nicky Flemming and Katie Pepper, the Cumbrian scrum was nowhere near so dominant in set nor loose and several balls were lost against the head. Cumbriaâ€™s tackling was suddenly erratic; a situation brought about by slower reaction to danger and consequent less effective defensive alignment. Missed or half-missed tackles meant the cheap and easy loss of ground; Durham scored, and with 20 minutes still to play Cumbria had to confront the need to better prepare of a long hard rear guard action.
As Durham increased the intensity of their approach Cumbria responded accordingly. Cumbria defended their â€˜22â€™ brilliantly and Ruby Nicholson, Molly Cooke, Megan Wilson and Carina Sewell all made big tackles which stopped potent Durham attacks. During the mid-half Cumbrian break outs were rare and when they did take place were usually the solo work of the ever reliable McDowell. Back again inside the Cumbrian â€˜22â€™ Durham came close to scoring at least twice and only the last ditch tackles of Creighton, Tonkin and Lucy Edgar prevented a second Durham try.
Cumbriaâ€™s resilience was rewarded when McDowell made her best escape run of the match and one which with 8 minutes to play gave Cumbria the chance to finish the match in the Durham half. With victory in sight the Cumbrian scrum generated a renewed power surge which helped in the preservation of advanced field position. Not only that but Keswick pair Tonkin and Tully combined in a move which threatened Durhamâ€™s deep left and almost resulted in a try for Tully which would have put the result beyond doubt. Cumbriaâ€™s strong finish was a testament to their fitness, and coolness when the pressure against them was at its most intense.
Cumbriaâ€™s next match is away to Cheshire on 30th November. Cheshire are acknowledged leading lights of the Northern Division and Cumbria need to take a strong squad when they travel to Northwich. Given that essential requirement after this performance and result Cumbria can face the Cheshire challenge with restored confidence
CUMBRIAN LEAGUE CUP RD. 2.
SILLOTH 20 points – KESWICK 10.
Silloth are the favourites for promotion from the Cumbrian League and given the experience of a recent League defeat at the same venue Keswick knew that they were in for a tough cup tie. In a match where Silloth, once again demonstrated their credentials, Keswick struggled for form and could not take sufficient advantage of their isolated periods of territorial dominance. Without the ball Keswick found Silloth difficult to subdue; whether moving forward through the grinding efforts of their big, well-drilled pack or exploiting the straightness achieved by their athletic backs, Sillothâ€™s control was exemplary and Keswick had fewer successes in the quest for turnover possession and counter attack than in any match this season. After their failure to maintain a hard earned lead, Keswick conceded two tries; one from a brilliantly conceived but simply executed run-round move and later, back in the game but still trailing by 3 points, from a Silloth multi pass initiative which clinically exploited a broken field.
On a drab day the game began with a flurry of hard hitting exchanges either side of the half way line. So little space was available that big contact was inevitable and this continued until the forwards wised up and began to embrace the pre-contact pass. Even then, there was still much congestion, and Keswick scrum half Dean Robinson and his Silloth counterpart did well to negotiate the chaos and set their backs in motion. Despite the greasy ball some progress through midfield was achieved by both sides. There were also plenty handling errors, some in pressure-free areas, which may have inclined the forwards towards a return to a tighter approach. Mutually advanced through more determined running, the contact area was hard but scrappy with no side achieving a significant edge. Possession was slow and never so good as to offer realistic opportunities for wide attack. Wide- receivers saw ball only when it was kicked to them and in the mid-half during a tit-for-tat outbreak of sub-standard kicking the best forward progress was made by wingmen and back-markers who had fielded gifts from the sky.
Keswick played a dominant early second quarter and after good lineout work by Karl Smyth, runs by forwards Graeme Marshall Carrick Wharmby and James Addyman placed the visitors inside the Silloth â€˜22â€™. Silloth defended their position well and Keswick had to settle for a penalty award, narrowly missed by Paul Ireland. Keswickâ€™s dominance continued and after a big run by Jamie McKenzie which split the home defence, another penalty was awarded. This time Ireland was successful and Keswick had the lead.
This lead didnâ€™t last mainly because of Sillothâ€™s recognition of the effectiveness of Keswickâ€™s short offload game and their instant appreciation of the need to stop it. Silloth began to more urgently â€˜wrap-upâ€™ in the tackle and deployed a more urgent counter ruck against tackle-ball taken to ground. Keswick were temporarily stymied and thus frustrated reverted to the kick as a means of gaining ground.
Back in the driving seat after starving Keswick of possession, then achieving an inevitable swing in the territorial battle, Silloth added two penalties and a converted try before half-time. Keswick were aware of their issues and recognised the need to match power with power and subtlety.
The early second half produced another collection of collisions broken by occasional outbreaks of passing rugby. Both sides did their best to free the ball early and keep play alive but at the same time deployed unforgiving edge defence where very few tackles were missed. Ball in hand attacks merely achieved sideways shifts of the melee although there was always the prospect for Keswick that if the ball could be moved cleanly to McKenzie, or if Addyman were able to join the wide attack, there was a more realistic hope of progress. In the first half of the half Sillothâ€™s kicking game was very much more effective, meaning that repeatedly Keswick were returned to deep and difficult start points.
Thanks to good run outs by Addyman, Tom Partington and replacements Aaron Thompson and Bruce Rigby Keswick eventually achieved the momentum necessary to mount a series of attacks from the edge of the Silloth â€˜22â€™. Play was suddenly looser and speeded to advantage by Keswickâ€™s greater use of the angled run from depth. Silloth were suddenly back footed and with accurate low level continuity Keswick eventually bashed their way to within inches of the try line.
A penalty was awarded for offside and play had to be stopped because of an injury to Keswick prop forward Mike Tait. Keswick maintained their focus and fast accurate hands across the line led to a try by right winger Stephen Hodgson. Ireland converted the score and Keswick were three points short and back in the game.
Keswick had to strike again but, completely aware of the danger, Silloth consolidated their position and with ten minutes of pragmatism again starved Keswick of possession. The worth of big forwards in control of a specific brief was demonstrated to Keswickâ€™s detriment and the addition from the replacements bench of fresh muscle helped Sillothâ€™s cause even more. Still, play was hard and intense and Keswickâ€™s effort was monumental but, confined mostly to a very safe distance remained unrewarded. Silloth closed the game on top and with a final try confirmed their position as worthy contestants in the Cup semi-final.
PENRITH â€˜Aâ€™ 7 points â€“ KESWICK 29.
Penrith â€˜Aâ€™ are populated by players with 1st XV experience and by players with less experience who may be asked to step up to the first team and the rigorous demands of North West One at any time. In that respect they are no mugs and appear to be the strongest of the four â€˜Aâ€™ XVs currently competing in the Cumbrian League. In this match they were very determined opponents and a Keswick side stripped to the bare 15, were glad when numerous availability issues did not compromise decent preparation.
On a damp and overcast day Keswick played with the wind in the first half. There is no doubt that at its most astute the kicking of Paul Ireland helped them dominate territory but it was sometimes the case that well positioned Penrith ran the ball back effectively and, negotiating the Keswick chase, instantly re-gained some lost ground. Keswickâ€™s best plays were â€˜ball in handâ€™ away from the forwards, and during the first twenty minutes, with passes which defied the vagaries of an unpredictable crosswindÂ the Keswick centres Jamie McKenzie and Robert Bland were both released into space. McKenzie stayed â€˜upâ€™ in trademark fashion to keep moves alive and Bland was caught twice attempting outside breaks. On the third occasion that Bland received the ball his running line was more abrasive and with a try on the wide right Keswick claimed the lead. Irelandâ€™s conversion was beautifully struck and extended that lead to 7 points.
The battle in the forwards quickly intensified and there was some uncompromising tackling either side of the half way line. For Keswick James Addyman, playing despite a sore shoulder, Graeme Marshall, and Carrick Wharmby were beacons at the heart of the action and Matty Atkinson and Karl Smyth scrapped successfully for lineout possession. Keswickâ€™s set scrum looked secure and from that strong base the Keswick backs were provided with an increased amount of front-foot possession. Penrith had their moments and were twice close to the Keswick line. Keswickâ€™s defence was generally solid, and with good rush, particularly well demonstrated by Brian Storey, began to force the Penrith attack into handling errors. At the other end of the pitch Keswick thought they had scored again when right wing Stephen Hodgson appeared to ground the ball â€˜in goalâ€™ but the referee saw it differently and â€˜playing-onâ€™ Penrith cleared their line. Seconds later another try scoring opportunity was lost when the back line became aligned too flat and the killer final ball was over-run.
There was better application when Keswick scored their second try in the 34th minute. A sufficiently deep line to the right allowed Bland plenty time to find Hodgson whose angled run took him past the remnants of the covering defence. Ireland missed the conversion but at half time 12 -0 felt like a comfortable score.
Keswick played a good third quarter which began with a good attack down the middle of the pitch led by prop Mike Tait which continued with slick ball movement to the left. The move looked dead but some unconvincing resistance by Penrith led to an escape from the touchline by left wing Sam Hooper followed by a well-timed pass and a try by Ireland.
Keswick claimed the upper hand and for the middle 20 of the second half Penrith seldom escaped from their half. Keswick moved the ball effectively against the wind and their passing both close and long hinted at some growth of confidence. McKenzieâ€™s â€˜bonus pointâ€™ fourth try in the 56th minute had less to do with good passing than captainâ€™s example at its raw best and controlled power and aggression through a wrong footed Penrith defence. Ireland kicked the conversion points for a 24-0 lead.
Despite Penrithâ€™s sustained doggedness Keswick continued to shade the battle for possession and there is no doubt that Penrithâ€™s 10 minute reduction to 14 men took its toll on their reserves of energy. Â Keswick were reduced to 14 men also when Smyth was forced from the action with a reoccurrence of his neck injury. The presence of the Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ team on and adjacent pitch meant that replacement Mike Branthwaite could be dragged from one action to the other as quickly as possible. The change in personnel had no disruptive effect; twice Hooper nearly scored on the wide left, on both occasions after slick passing moves involving Ireland, Bland and the ever influential Dean Robinson. On the other side of the pitch Tait, McKenzie now a forward, and Marshall were held up only inches from the line. With an edge in fitness evident for the first time in the match Storey jinked 25 metres through a slow covering defence to score Keswickâ€™s fifth try.
Penrith â€˜Aâ€™ re-discovered some of their earlier zest and played flat-out until the end of the match. The award of two penalties and some determined running by their centres created a rare opportunity to attack from inside the Keswick â€˜22â€™ where good awareness of Keswickâ€™s slowness to cover opened the door to a deserved consolation try. It was the last significant action of a very challenging match.
Â CUMBRIAN LEAGUE DIVISION 2. (E/S)
PENRITH â€˜Bâ€™ 52 points â€“ KESWICK Aâ€™ 0.
The scoreline suggests a hammering but the biggest difference between these sides lay in Penrithâ€™s â€˜Bâ€™ superior ability to finish try scoring chances. Once again Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ were short of players, particularly specialists, but this latest 13 man version of the team battled hard and still emerged from a tough 8-try defeat with a lot of credit. Penrith â€˜Bâ€™ are deserved leaders of Cumbria 2 and were typically generous hosts lending Keswick 2 players. Penrithâ€™s charity ended there, their team is hard and well bonded, and during their best moments their play was precise and clinical. Despite Keswick â€˜Aâ€™s relative inexperience and the unambiguous one way scoreline this was a match that was fiercely contested throughout.
Keswick were particularly grateful for the contributions of Joe Quail who battled courageously against unfavourable odds, Tim Ashbridge who organised the threequarters, Toby Williams who ran the hard yards every time he had the ball and Mike Branthwaite who gave a great performance in an unfamiliar role as a forward. Collectively Keswick were effective â€˜going forwardâ€™ but struggled to establish pressure through continuity and in open play could not match Penrithâ€™s slickness and composure. When Keswickâ€™s established decent field position it was as a result of guts and effort and once again the team achieved better results ball in hand than they did chasing speculative kicks. Four of Penrith â€˜Bâ€™s tries came from length of field moves after escapes from deep field positions when Keswick failed to â€˜close downâ€™ effectively.
Once again it was demonstrated that if they could consistently field a full side, particularly a settled one, Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ could equal if not emulate the achievements of sides like Penrith â€˜Bâ€™.
KENDAL and KESWICK 26 points- PENRITH 43.
Keswick Under-12s are improving their confidence, skills and performance levels every week which is a great achievement for a side so clearly thrown in at the deep end. Progress has been achieved during tough matches against Wigton, Penrith and Upper Eden, all of whom are sides who have played and developed together since they were under-8s. In addition those sides have played at under-12 level since the start of the season in September, whereas Keswick, who did no specific pre-season training, did not play their first match until November.
Keswick played well in defeat against Penrith so were not fazed when they were informed by Kendal that as part of a three way fixture arrangement they would be playing them again on Sunday.
The rigours of playing anybody paled by comparison to the chaotic battle for breath and peg in the Kendal changing rooms. Then, crossing the busy A6 in freezing rain led the players to Queen Catherineâ€™s School and the conclusion that whoever they were playing, in whatever conditions, the safest place to be was on the pitch. Keswick, with 8 players present welcomed 7 man Kendalâ€™s suggestion that they should amalgamate and play only one (3-thirds) match. This was a wise option taken in respect of the size of Penrithâ€™s squad, and the anticipated deterioration of the weather from very bad to even worse.
The amalgamation was almost seamless and ensured that as many players as possible were in positions they were happy to play. Keswickâ€™s key men Issac Bell and Luke Lewis who are both capable scrum-halves were deployed at stand off and centre respectively to allow the Kendal scrum half to play in his preferred position. Jake Graves and Emily Cooper lined up as props, three Kendal forwards completed a solid pack and Sam Day, Charlie Cartmell and Nat Relph lined up with a big Kendal centre in the back division. One Kendal player and Keswickâ€™s Jacob Hewitson represented equality even on the replacements bench.
The amalgamated team coped well with Penrithâ€™s opening shots which mainly consisted of some driving mauls and random charges up the middle of the pitch. At the first lineout the Kendal officials suggested a widening of the pitch and this duly took place. With more pitch to defend the amalgamated team showed great-spirit but were tested in the wide channels and in building a three try lead Penrith demonstrated the advantages of rehearsal and a settled side. Thanks to emergent prominent displays by the more experienced Kendal players, powerful bursts by Jake and Emily and dashes by Keswick steppers Luke and Issac, the amalgamated side soon began to show some cohesion. The pack won a greater share of possession and after Lukeâ€™s switch to scrum half began to make better and faster use of it. The amalgamated side scrapped to retain possession during a sustained attack where Penrith were tested in defence. Two tries were pulled back, one scored by Luke, and with kicks taken into account the first time â€“ out score was Kendal/Keswick 12 points- Penrith 19.
Kendal /Keswick began the second third well and got the closest to taking the lead at any time during the match when a third try by James â€“ a very talented Kendal full-back, made the score 17 points â€“ 19. The good start could not be sustained however; Penrith were soon jolted out of their malaise and cleared their lines with well-considered clearance kicks. These turned the amalgamated side whose efforts to counter attack were pressurised by effective chases. Luke led the way for the amalgamated side with some inspired breaks to the right from scrums uncomfortably close to the try line and greater ground would have been achieved with better co-ordinated support. Â Penrith remained a step ahead and were increasingly dominant at the breakdown, and when tackle fatigue finally began to affect the amalgamated side Penrith pounced to take full advantage. Penrith scored two tries and prevented further scores by Kendal / Keswick. The second interval scoreline was Kendal/Keswick 17 points â€“ Penrith 31.
The third-third commenced in rapidly deteriorating weather conditions but Kendal/ Keswick had wind advantage and this was considerable. Issac and Nat Relph made determined breaks to safety but Penrith again showed great tactical awareness and in defiance of the wind ensured the preservation of territory through kicks and driving mauls. Penrith showed their passing quality and scored two more tries. In reply, Kendal /Keswick never gave up and persevered all the way to the end of the match. The final minutes of the match were spent exclusively on and around the Penrith goal line where Kendal/Keswick mounted pressure from scrums, lineouts, mauls and rucks. Emily, and Jake were both stopped short after powerful surges and good passes by Jacob, Sam and Charlie all nearly led to tries by bigger Kendal strikers. Faced by the howling wind and driving rain Penrithâ€™s defence was exemplary but even they could not cope with Issacâ€™s determined burst and try-in-a-heap which finished the scoring.
KESWICK 12 points â€“ PENRITH 24.
Tuesday eveningâ€™s match under the Davidson Park floodlights was a hard fought affair enjoyed by players and spectators alike. Deprived of the services of some of their best regulars, and against arguably the best team in the County, Keswick gave a good account, tested Penrith, and demonstrated considerable improvement since the sides last met in October.
On a pitch made greasy and fast by evening drizzle Penrith monopolised the early possession and their precise rapid passing and powerful running placed Keswick firmly on the back foot. Keswick were thankful for the committed tackling of Oliver Dyer, Mike Bewley and Tom Hodgson but Penrithâ€™s pressure was relentless. Penrithâ€™s well drilled rucking bothered Keswick from the start and a penalty awarded against Keswick at the ruck led to Penrith scoring the gameâ€™s first try.
Jack Wilson was introduced as replacement full back for Keswick and he was soon busy at the heart of the action. Wilson made a try saving tackle, and got up and instantly made another. He then played a key role in a Keswick escape which featured a superb touchline run by wingman Harry Vaillant. Vaillant was stopped by the last defender; an action indicative of Penrithâ€™s all -round defensive efficiency.
Keswickâ€™s gain of ground after 16 minutes came through a well-organized chase following a kick by George Holme. It was Keswickâ€™s most advanced position of the match but the gain became short-lived when a failure to tackle by the second-wave chasers allowed Penrith the chance to run the ball back. Henry Etisoy made an admirable last ditch tackle but Penrith kept the ball alive and scored their second try.
Keswick rallied in response and played a very good second quarter. Keswickâ€™s ball carrying, particularly that of Bewley and prop Cameron Lockhart became a lot more aggressive and there was notable commitment after the tackle from forwards Jonny Robinson, Camden Eldon and Kelvin Tsoi. Protection for scrum half Hodgson was improved and Keswick began to more regularly keep their passing moves alive. Fast possession was achieved less occasionally and for that Keswick could thank their gradual improved appreciation of what was required at the base of the extended ruck. Vaillant saw more ball and when he was in possession Keswick went forward and looked likely to score. A deserved try arrived for Keswick just before half time and was scored at the end of a powerful surge by the forwards, a quick pass by Hodgson and a sprint to the line by Vaillant.
Keswick believed they were in with a chance and with runs by Vaillant and centre Josh Jackson began the second half on the front foot. Maintaining their new found momentum was difficult against a Penrith side clearly ready to deal with spirited, resurgent sides. Penrithâ€™s impeccable organization during one of Keswickâ€™s best periods was demonstrated by no missed tackles, no ill-discipline before during and after the tackle and a trained eye for the counter attack. Throughout the third quarter, led from the front by the increasingly impressive Bewley, Keswick stuck to their task with total commitment; but were contained at a safe distance by Penrith who were ever ready to pounce and merely waited for their game winning chance.
This arrived after a shake-up in the Keswick back-line made necessary after an injury to Holme. As the Keswick pack battled against increasingly unfavourable odds and in particular began to struggle once again at the ruck, Vaillant was moved to half back where his effectiveness as Keswickâ€™s most dangerous strike runner was blunted by severely reduced space. When a lineout ball was lost close to the half way line Penrith broke decisively and after retaining possession at two breakdowns scored a third try through their right winger.
Penrithâ€™s decisive fourth try came in the wake of a ludicrous bout of unpleasantness which did much to detract from a good game and did neither side any credit. Penrith were the side least affected by the scrap and to seal the game tore a try scoring hole in the right flank of the Keswick defence.
Keswick made an extremely spirited grandstand finish and closed the margin to a much more respectable 12 points with a try by Bewley and conversion by Jackson. Keswickâ€™s approach during the build up to the try was once again more aggressive and executed successfully against a Penrith side giving no Christmas presents. Bewleyâ€™s final charge to the line was unstoppable and at the end of a challenging contest pleasingly illustrated Keswickâ€™s competitive spirit.
Keswick players endure double postponement.
Keswickâ€™s Cumbrian League match against Wigton Wanderers was called off late on Saturday morning when the Davidson Park pitch was declared frozen and unfit for play. This was a surprise and disappointment to those versed in the traditions of pitch inspection who could remember no instance of one-nightâ€™s frost inflicting such damage. The Saturday sunshine predicted by the forecasters failed to appear, then there was snow, and when the rain and sleet which arrived later turned to ice on impact the surface became slippery as well as solid. Still there was no sunshine and the subsequent rise in temperature which softened the pitch somewhat, arrived too late to help.
Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ who were playing at Ambleside were told of their cancellation at 9-00 am. â€˜It was minus 6 here last night; this pitch is frozen solid and wonâ€™t recover in timeâ€™ an Ambleside spokesman declared emphatically.
UPPER EDEN 45 points â€“ KESWICK 20.
On a cold raw morning it was always going to be a race to complete the match before the arrival of rain and sleet predicted for mid-day. The Keswick players, most of whom had never been to Kirkby Stephen before, were encouraged to incorporate an extra layer but generally remained oblivious to the impending weather hell.Â Despite their inexperience Keswickâ€™s players proceeded to play their part in a fantastic match, packed with tremendous passing exchanges and thrilling end to end action. Keswick were short of players but were restored to full strength when Upper Eden allowed u-13s Nathan Hughes and Joseph Slack to â€˜play downâ€™. A further big bonus for Keswick was the presence in the side of Tom Stafford who added pace to the back line and very quickly mastered the complicated basic requirements of playing stand-off half.
Inside Tom at scrum half Issac Bell captained the side with great enthusiasm and certainly demonstrated a captainâ€™s example. After Upper Eden had taken a three try lead it was Issac who inspired Keswickâ€™s first half fight back. Firstly, in conjunction with Joseph, Sam Day and Emily Cooper, he led a defensive effort which prevented a fourth Upper Eden try and then, thanks to a lightning-fast counter attack which switched play to the Upper Eden end, he scored Keswickâ€™s morale boosting first try. Â Further runs from the deep field by Issac and Tom and a more confrontational blast through traffic by Emily ensured Keswick finished the half on top. Tom scored Keswickâ€™s second try to create an interval score line of 10-15.
Keswickâ€™s discussions at half time was concerned with the provision of better support for the ball carrier, but before there was a chance to demonstrate any improvementÂ Keswick were hit with a tidal surge of Upper Eden pressure which rendered them four very quick tries. Keswick were caught out by the speed of it all and were chasing shadows as Upper Eden played the pre-contact passing game to perfection. Keswick did well to recover their composure and after making sure that everyone was ready to chase the next re-start kick Keswick retrieved the ball and enjoyed a welcome spell of pressure inside the Upper Eden half.
Keswick played some good rugby and reduced the margin to 15-35 with a try by Issac. Keswick worked hard and there were productive passages of attacking play involving Tom, Emily and Joseph, and then Jacob Hewitson, Issac and Nat Relph. Keswick prop Jake Graves worked hard from start to finish. Increasingly confident with the ball in his hands Jake was always up with the attack and passed well, he also demonstrated an ability to charge the hard yards and there was an intriguing match-long tussle between Jake and an Upper Eden prop blessed with similar qualities. As the temperature plummeted and the sky went black the game became a lot more open. Upper Eden scored two more tries and Keswick scored the last try of the match thanks to a determined charge by Joseph. It started to rain just as the players made their escape.
COCKERMOUTH 7 points – KESWICK 22.
It was difficult to ignore the rapid deterioration of the weather which on such a high and exposed ground as Cockermouthâ€™s Strawberry How dictated Keswickâ€™s adoption of appropriate tactics. Saturdayâ€™s weather went from bad to worse to extremely challenging and a wind and rain affected â€˜warmâ€™-up confirmed the need for a pragmatic approach. Fully aware of Cockermouthâ€™s significant recent improvements, Keswick were pleased to win the toss and opted to play against the elements in the first half.
This meant that Keswick had to be accurate in their ball play, make hard-yards and be aggressive but precise in their approach to the breakdown. Keswickâ€™s â€˜keep it aliveâ€™ approach is one most compromised by inclement weather, â€˜hard-yardsâ€™ are an essential alternative, and errors of judgement at the breakdown could gift wind assisted penalty chances to opponents glad of the easy gain in ground. The opening exchanges were fast and furious with no obvious advantage claimed by either side. Both sides hit their tackles with great enthusiasm with James Addyman and Brian Storey in particular setting the highest standard for Keswick. Cockermouthâ€™s scrum looked solid and a bit heavier than Keswickâ€™s, but, Keswick locked-out in familiar style and as usual No 8 Tom Partington ensured tidy possession for the Keswick half backs. Cockermouthâ€™s confinement to a safe distance, mainly achieved as a result of pressure from Partington and fellow loose forwards Aaron Thompson and Addyman, soon resulted in their resort to the kick over the top of the advancing defence. This development offered Keswick their first counter attacking opportunities and signalled a loosening of the midfield deadlock.
Fielding non-threatening kicks and twice breaking left Jamie McKenzie beat his marker on the outside and with well-timed passes released wider runners into space. James Hinkley and then Addyman both made runs of 30 metres in the inside left channel and both advances forced desperate retreats by the Cockermouth defence. Keswickâ€™s support, whilst pleasingly legal, was not entirely accurate but pressure was maintained; a short but penetrative carry by Carrick Wharmby became a ruck, and when Cockermouth were penalised Paul Ireland kicked Keswick ahead with a penalty.
Keswick gave Cockermouth very little time to recover and with the ball kept tight and with clever use of the blind-side Keswickâ€™s adapted play in the â€˜middle 20 minutesâ€™ was effective if untypical. Partington led some of Keswickâ€™s best charges, particularly those into the short side right field and with good support from Addyman, Wharmby and Dom Maguire Keswick looked increasingly comfortable and in control. Cockermouth were pinned in their â€˜22â€™ for ten minutes and against Keswickâ€™s efficient hard yarding deserve credit for holding out for so long. Ireland narrowly missed a penalty kick at goal before another penalty was awarded which this time, from 20 metres, Keswick decided to run. At first this looked like an unwise option and even with the ball in the hands of McKenzie it seemed that Cockermouthâ€™s packed defence offered no opportunity for progress. With exemplary strength and technique McKenzie ploughed on and draped in defenders, but assisted by determined trailers, reached the line and scored a great try. Ireland kicked the conversion and against the wind Keswick had a priceless 10-0 lead.
It was during the late stages of the half that Cockermouth finally demonstrated their prowess in attack. After generally underusing the option Cockermouth gained ground from a kick which finally turned Keswick. The initiative was well supported; for the first time Keswick became ragged at the edges and after showing their best defensive discipline of the season, conceded two penalties in rapid succession. Going forward, Cockermouthâ€™s passing and more considered deeper alignments isolated defenders and allowed Keswick no chance to slow the attack. Successive interventions by Cockermouthâ€™s gifted fullback created further problems in the Keswick defence. Cockermouth made further ground, gained maximum advantage from a third quickly taken penalty and scored a deserved try to the right of the posts. The conversion was successful.
With so little time remaining of the first half it was important that Keswick allowed the resurgent home side no opportunity to further boost their confidence and this was best achieved by establishing a camp deep in Cockermouth territory. Ireland kicked flat, under the wind, to give Keswick what they wanted and a good chase secured a safe gain in ground. The award of a further penalty at the next breakdown was a big bonus to Keswick and Irelandâ€™s well struck effort meant a telling 13-7 half time lead.
Keswick were pleased with their first half performance and justifiably so. In shocking conditions both sides had mostly slogged it out but had also demonstrated some flair and a taste for expansion. The key to it all was the elements, which now favoured Keswick, and the clear message was that it would serve the visitors best interests to turn this contest into a quest for territory.
Keswick played a very good opening 10 minutes where more favourable bounces would surely have resulted in tries being scored. Irelandâ€™s early kicks were skilfully varied with a bomb followed by two flatter diagonal kicks causing worry to the Cockermouth rear-guard. Keswick failed to take advantage of a Cockermouth knock on, then the Cockermouth left winger twice escaped under pressure. Keswick had to settle for a penalty kicked by Ireland.
16-7 was not a safe lead especially given Cockermouthâ€™s complete refusal to lie down. Their determined forwards took the game to Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Keswick and with well controlled pressure the 50th â€“ 65th minute was a period dominated by Cockermouth. Keswick again showed the benefits of a disciplined defence which held a good line usually just inside their â€˜22â€™ and significantly conceded no penalties.
Keswickâ€™s biggest escape was when a right field lineout was missed and Cockermouth runners bombarded the Keswick line. Once again Storey and Addyman inspired a high tackle count and Irelandâ€™s clearance kick eventually secured Keswickâ€™s escape.
Back on the attack and at the right end of the field thanks to the boot of Ireland, Keswick went in search of the try which they hoped would seal the result. Following his intelligent kick to space, scrum half Dean Robinson retrieved the ball and a certain score was only prevented by a miraculous last ditch tackle by the Cockermouth full-back. The ball was moved left where two more brilliant tackles stopped run-ins by Partington and Matty Atkinson. From a scrum the ball was moved left to Bruce Rigby who was similarly thwarted by a determined defender.Â The pressure culminated in another penalty kicked by Ireland.
With darkness descending rapidly and the pitch and players wearied by pounding and incessant rain the game slowed. This was heaven for tacklers seeking less mobile targets and the best incentive possible for the quick movement of ball away from the melee. This was best achieved by Keswick who in the absence of Ireland and Robinson were driven from half back by Storey and replacement scrum-half Sam Hooper. Hooperâ€™s enthusiastic approach inspired a big finish from Keswick who opened the Cockermouth defence in midfield and were unlucky to see Stephen Hodgson bundled into touch by another last ditch tackle. Not for the first time whilst in a try scoring position Keswick had to be content with a penalty, this time kicked by Storey.
Cockermouth ensured Keswickâ€™s respect with the extended defensive stint which closed the match. After Partington was kept out by the cover defence, no fewer than six Keswick forwards, and backs McKenzie and Rigby, drove for the line only to be repelled by committed last ditch tackling, and sometimes â€˜hold-upsâ€™ behind the goal-line. Keswick kept the ball despite defensive pressure and Hooper opened some inviting gaps for the â€˜nextâ€™ runner. In the circumstances keeping Keswick out was a major achievement and indicative of a superb Cockermouth effort.
This was an enjoyable match which Keswick deserved to win. It was a credit to both defences that only 2 tries were scored, which is the lowest try scoring total of any match involving Keswick this season. Both sides adopted a very positive attitude on a diabolical day and due credit for his role in proceedings must be accorded to an excellent match referee Mr Brian Mitchelhill of the Cumbrian Referees Society.
Cumbrian League Division 2.
Hawcoat Park â€˜Aâ€™ 28 points â€“ Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ 7.
Last minute back-words compounded the problems created by known unavailability and the addition of two no-shows meant the team travelled light. Â Not only that, but Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ were rendered short of experts in key positions, most noticeably at full back, midfield and in the tight-5. Hawcoat Park â€˜Aâ€™ away is an acknowledged tricky assignment, even with a full team, so with 13 players, and two borrowed, there was a mountain to climb. This became a scrappy, forgettable wrestling match played in horrible weather in front of an uncharitable crowd. It was brought to a premature conclusion when the captains decided that given the toll of persistent rain, wholesale unchecked unpleasantness and rapidly fading light â€˜enough was enoughâ€™.
Hawcoat Park â€˜Aâ€™ who lost narrowly at Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ earlier in the season wasted no time imposing their grip and a gutsy but clearly less experienced Keswick side were soon under the cosh. Using their powerful pack to the best advantage and comprehensively exploiting Keswickâ€™s shortcomings, Hawcoat Park â€˜Aâ€™ scored two converted tries in each half. Keswick â€˜Aâ€™s try and conversion by Oliver Dunn was a deserved effort, arriving at a time when Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ were improving, particularly in their creation of attacking initiatives. The try was manufactured by the hard graft of Joe Quail the pace of Louis Cornforth and the final assist of skipper Lewis Davis. The try, which was scored in the 50th minute, gave Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ some reward for improvement but by then Keswick â€˜Aâ€™ knew they were involved in a match they could not win.