Harris brushes TN out

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Date of match:        16/04/2011
TEAM:            1st XV         
MATCH:            Team Northumbria v Carlisle
(League/Cup/Other):    North 1 East League
RESULT:            31 pts v 33 pts
HALF TIME SCORE:    10 pts v 26 pts

Tries:    Lee Brumpton (1), Lewis Boyd (1), Chris Harris (3).
Pens:    Grant Connon (4).

Heading for disaster after a home defeat to Pontefract last week, Carlisle had little time to pick themselves up and attempt to get out of the fringe relegation area of North 1 East.  Salvage work began on Tuesday with a narrow victory over Wigton in the Cumbria Cup quarter final at Lowmoor Road;  the rebuilding of confidence was a priority and that victory, albeit a scrappy one, started the process.

Selection problems, already problematical, were further compounded by injuries incurred at Wigton, with the Carlisle pack not quite the same as it had looked earlier in the campaign.  Several prominent lads were missing, but any worries that may have niggled were quickly assuaged by a competent performance from all eight who created a great platform for the backs to wreak more than a little havoc at

Bullocksteads, something that Team Northumbria are not accustomed too, and probably didn’t expect.

The backs had been tweaked a little too;  Lewis Boyd returned at full back for Max Connon who moved to scrum half to partner his brother Grant.  With the presence of the more experienced Boyd behind them (& that is not a criticism of Connon) there was a tangible effect on youngsters whose job it was to tantalise their hosts.

The opening exchanges were fairly even with the two packs vying for superiority.   Team Northumbria were first to draw blood though with a try wide out on the right that was just too far for the conversion.  From the restart the Carlisle pack got the advantage and applied heavy pressure, camping themselves on the home line for several minutes until on the twelfth minute flanker Lee Brumpton touched down after a push over, left of the posts but Grant Connon inexplicably missed the conversion!

Inspired by that success, the pack went on to dominate the forward play, with Brumpton especially being very influential in the loose, cleaning up and making yards at every opportunity with his direct approach.  The Connon half back duo too were very active, Max being lively and alert around the scrum, and Grant putting in his usual assured performance.

On twelve minutes, Brumpton made ample ground from midfield before releasing the ball to outside centre Chris Harris who waltzed through a perplexed home defence to score at the right of goals.  Connon improved.  Carlisle continued with a renewed confidence without getting carried away with their apparent superiority at this stage.  Harris voted man of the match by the game sponsors, was at the heart of the action throughout and added to his earlier success  when, five minutes he added a second try, Connon converting.
Exchanges were pretty even and whilst the visitors were in command there was no room for complacency, TN looking dangerous throughout and the visiting defence had to be on their mettle to safeguard what they had achieved.

Within minutes of strengthening their grip on proceedings, Carlisle suffered a blow when Dan Holmes on the right wing, had to retire with ham string problems  –  something the city outfit could do without, adding to their lengthening injury list.  Joe Blaylock replaced him and was soon in the thick of the action.
[slidepress gallery=’carlisle-v-team-northumbria-rfc-16th-april-2011′]
Given the opportunities, TN continued to test the Carlisle rearguard that concede a try wide out on the left.  A temporary setback though; with the break looming, full back Boyd made a lengthy surge up field, linking with Harris and allowing him to claim his third try and with the extras a 26 pts to 10 pts advantage at the break.

After the rest, Carlisle shuffled their pack;  Prop Martin Kalinowski retired with Biff McGimpsey moving up from the second row, Dan Smithson from the flank took over from McGimpsey, allowing Gareth Wylie to join the fray from the bench.   There was no disruption to the flow of the game  –  well not in the early stages of the second period at least!  Grant Connon had the chance to add a penalty within five minutes but the effort went wide.  Both teams continued where they had left off, Carlisle trying to increase their stranglehold, and the students endeavouring to find a way through a stubborn defence.

The game was intense and after sixty six minutes the home side served notice that they were not going to cave in without a fight and landed seven points to close the gap.  Within a minute though, Boyd went off on a run down the right, found his way through the defence and touched down between the posts, Connon making it thirty three points for Carlisle.   The last ten minutes were tense though with the students continuing to close the gap with two converted tries, the last with a minute remaining.  Carlisle held out though for a creditable victory that helped their cause to avoid the drop!  The result helped their cause, lifting them three slots in the league placings;  but let no one get carried away.  With some teams having finished their programme, or with less games to play than Carlisle, three games remaining (two at home) makes for a grandstand finish to the season.

Their destiny is in their own hands but if they show the same grit and determination that was evident on this trip to the north east, then they will enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

Cleckheaton come to Warwick Road on Easter Saturday, with promotion for them now no more than a dream.  Kick off is at 3.00 pm and the team would benefit from plenty of support.

15   Lewis Boyd
14   Martin Brodie
13   Chris Harris
12   Luke Boyd
11   Dan Holmes (Joe Blaylock)
10   Grant Connon
9     Max Connon
1     Steve Stamper (C)
2     Graham Kidd
3     Martin Kalinowski (Martin McGimpsey)
4     Callum Grey
5     Martin McGimpsey (Dan Smithson)
6     Dan Smithson (Gareth Wylie)
7     Lee Brumpton
8     Tom Ritchie
16   Gareth Wylie
17   Stuart Graham
18   Joe Blaylock

PICK OF THE PACK:    Lee Brumpton
BEST OF THE BACKS:    Chris Harris
NEXT MATCH:    ON 23/04/2011 – Carlisle V Cleckheaton.  KICK OFF 3.00 pm