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Off to the Lake District and Davidson Park for the venue for this encounter on 20th Feb. The Cobras made several changes to the County Cup team the week previous due to players being away on holiday and injuries.
Carlisle started brightly and straight from the loose Kestrels kick off, prop Callum Sandwith made a 40metre dash before being brought to ground, good retention of phases led the Cobra’s towards the Keswick line only for a knock on at the last minute to give the ball away.
At times Carlisle showed signs of the best rugby they had played all season, in particular kicking well behind the flat Keswick defence and recycling the ball. However at times they also lacked composure around the offload which led to various fumbles and wasted possession.
Nevertheless their hard work paid off 8 minutes in when good quick ruck ball was moved well down the backs’ line to find J. Bradley to go over in the corner. Connon could not convert. But the early score was wiped out moments later when a turnover deep inside Keswick territory led to the number 14 shaking off two tackles and going the length to score under the sticks! With the conversion added the score was 7-5 to Keswick.
Carlisle always had the edge up front and particularly in the scrum with Tait stealing various scrums against the head. And a turnover scrum on 15 mins led to Jake Mangan driving over from close. Connon couldn’t add the extras. 7-10.
With what was probably 80% of possession in the first half Carlisle should have been out of sight by the break, however due to their lack of depth in the backs they knocked on at vital times. When the ball was moved well they pressured the Keswick defence and took full advantage of the momentum, on 21 mins Joel Davidson crossed again in the corner making it 7-15.
Keswick continued to pressure the Carlisle defence but the kestrels were always denied, however loose kicking led to a try under the posts just before the break when Carlisle failed to clear the ball off the park, once again 14 proved to be destructive. 14-15 at the break.
The second half started badly for the visitors when Carlisle failed to capitalise on some sloppy defending from the kick off. Instead the ball bounced up to the Keswick second row went the length of the pitch to score under the posts. 21-15. Carlisle responded positively and some good play allowed them to find good field position. They also maintained a good pace throughout the game from quick tap penalties, Brendan Ferguson making good yards throughout the game from endless carries as did Joel Davidson.
On the 40th minute the Cobras bit back when T. Fuller ran a great line to crash over under the sticks, Connon added the extras on this occasion and Carlisle regained the lead. The final 20 minutes was a mixture of lack of tackling, creativity and composure. This allowed Keswick to counter attack. Too much pace out wide led to another Keswick try. 26-22 and it would have been more had it not been for a superb covering tackle from J. Bradley stopping the Keswick team going over for a fifth try. Although on 55 minutes there was nothing he could have done from a Keswick kick through allowing them to score again. 33-22 was the final score.
On a brighter note the soup of the day was lentil and ham, a great hangover cure for Israel and Blain who the night earlier were involved in the club epic Jagermeister night. A truly remarkable night in the club’s social calendar. Blain made the most of the jager wheras Israel had his usual 20 pints of the dark stuff.
Won / drawn / lost: Lost
Result: 22 v 33
Half time score: 15 v 14
Report sent in by: Ben Blain