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North 1 East League
Saturday, 4th September
New season, new teams and new faces! Team Northumbria (Northumbria University) arrived at Warwick Road for their opening fixture in North 1 East after three successive promotions, and it was not to hard to see why!
In the opening minutes of the game they ran their hosts off their feet and kept them in defensive mode for long periods.
The home side got an early warning of what to expect as early as the second minute, when the speedy Bellon on the right wing touched down for the opening shot, although thankfully full back Porter missed the extras as he did with an earlier penalty. TN enhanced their lead on nine minutes when one of their centres added another try, although he was fortunate, having accepted a blatant forward pass that the referee apparently didn’t see! No conversion this time either.
Although, the north east outfit outpaced Carlisle at times, their pack was generally inferior, and the signs were there that, when they applied their minds to it, the city eight could master their opponents in the tight, and what’s more their guests were not too keen on a hard challenge or too! Perhaps a pity therefore, that Carlisle appeared not to realise this.
Debutant inside centre, Grant Connon had a chance with a penalty on twenty five minutes but had to wait a couple of minutes for another penalty to open his account and reduce the arrears, although it was short lived because within a minute the TN full back slotted one of his own over.
With only minutes to go for the break, TN were awarded a mystery penalty try (converted). Carlisle were stoutly defending their line between the posts, the referee signalled advantage to the defence, the ball was cleared out to the wing, only for the official to award the penalty try. Why! Only he knows, as even some of the visiting party were bemused.
It looked like a seventeen point benefit at the break for the students, but Connon landed a penalty just on half time.
The half time team talk seemed to have aroused the Warwick Road men, coupled with the introduction of Lee Brumpton at flanker and veteran Simon Little to the fly half berth.
Carlisle gave notice that they were not going to cede the game too easily, because for the next quarter of an hour they really put their opponents under severe pressure. They kept them penned back for long periods and there were further signs that compromising forward play was not part of their armory. Connon landed a home penalty a couple of minutes in, and the lads plugged away until Brumpton lead by example and touched down a well worked and deserved effort.
More of the same and salvation was possible, but rather than maintaining the momentum they had at that point, TN were allowed to get back into the match and within the next ten minutes landed a brace of tries – one from a blatant knock on.
A further try four minutes from time took the scoreline out to 14 – 41 but replacement prop Graham Kidd reduced the arrears at the death with a try.
All that said, the scoreline does not give a fair reflection of what was quite an entertaining match and had Carlisle played consistently rather than spasmodically, things would certainly have been a little different.
Take away three dubious tries (a couple of them improved) and the narrower margin would have been a better reflection, although TN did deserve their victory.
Carlisle had a number of new youngsters in the side and whilst there is some rawness, experience and maturity will improve their game in the weeks ahead.
SCORERS FOR CARLISLE:
TRIES: Lee Brumpton (1) Graham Kidd (1)
PENS: Grant Connon (3)
STARTING XV v Team Northumbria
15 Lewis Boyd
14 Dan Holmes
13 Chris Harris
12 Grant Connon
11 Jack Oddie
10 Matt Rogers (Simon Little)
9 Ben Blain
1 Steve Stamper
2 Tom Graham
3 Martin Kalinowski (Graham Kidd)
4 Aidan Day
5 Mark Barron (Captain)
6 Dan Smithson
7 David Milbourn (Lee Brumpton)
8 Tom Ritchie
16 Lee Brumpton
17 Simon Little
18 Graham Kidd
Away at WEST HARTLEPOOL.
PICK OF THE PACK:
BEST OF THE BACKS: