Colts 15 v Wigton 14

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Saturday 10 January 2009

With no game since 15 November – 4 opposition cancellations or postponements and one lost to the weather, a late call from Wigton on Thursday night (Workington had cancelled on them) offered Carlisle the chance of game. Despite the fact that some players had made other arrangements and we only had the bare 15 and we hadn’t won a game to date this season including two losses to Wigton, we travelled. All credit to Wigton, they understood we were trying to provide them with opposition and reacted accordingly. Elswhere around the North Jack Frost was causing havoc, but around Wigton a mild climate prevailed and the weather would be beaten.

We lost James Johnstone on Saturday morning, but gained Max Connon from the cancelled 2s game. But that was a front row for a back, so we offered Wigton non-contested scrums or “could they lend us a hooker?”  Commendably they choose the latter and the two hookers who guested for us were magnificent; they played their hearts out and were full members of the team on the day.

Wigton had a “cast of thousands” although sometimes that can work against you. With a stiff breeze angling across Carlisle chose to play with the advantage. Wigton kicked off, Carlisle recovered and set up a good ruck. But the resulting kick for position was charged down and Wigton picked up and scored under the posts. 7-0 down a minute into the game; with all that had gone before we could be forgiven for wondering if all the effort was worth it.

But gradually we fought back. The forwards picked and drove with Matt Cullen and Ross Allen to the fore. The backs initially struggle with the wet and windy conditions but looked to have the measure of their opponents if they could control the ball. On 15 minutes we narrowed the gap when Matt Cullen was on the end of an impressive pick go sequence to score a try wide out that was unconverted. The wind advantage was significant but not as influencing as might have been expected. Wigton came back into the game towards the end of the first half, and their own determinatioin saw them score a second try following a determined forward effort. As with their first it was converted.

With 14-5 half time lead and the wind advantage in the second half you would certainly have favoured the home side. And their whirlwind start in the second half had the Carlisle coach hoping to get away without an embarrsing scoreline but fearing the worst. But his players had other ideas! Magnificent resilient defence, coupled with the odd Wigton error, prevented the hosts for further scores. As conditions grew colder and the game wore on the Carlisle forwards began to dominate and the backs despite the conditions suggested that they could break out and cause problems.

And with five minutes left they took total control, with Joe Pennington to the fore from full back. His first break almost put winger Aidan Hermeston in at the corner. His second hitting the line in midfield follwing a forward drive created the space for James Rock, who despite being on the half way line put in a lung busting run to score the try. At 14-10 we could even potentially claim a moral victory, but it was to get better. From the restart Carlisle pressed deep in to the Wigton 22. The home team panicked, conceded a penalty and Max Connon tapped quickly, jinked past two Wigton players to score a winining try. An unlikley and magnificent result for a Carlisle side that refused to give up.

And hopefully a real kick start to the season. This Saturday Westoe visit Warwick Road for a League match KO 2.15. Another tough assignment, but we are off the mark now and hoping to keep the improvement up.

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