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Carlisle are still rebuilding a squad which saw key positional players leave for higher league clubs and senior, experienced players retire after last season.
With that in mind and injuries early in the season, this was a much improved Carlisle performance, in fact it is not unfair to say Carlisle did everything but win and this was reflected by comments by the opposition post match, astounded a side of Carlisle’s skill level are at the foot of the table.
The first half saw Carlisle have the majority of the possession with the Wirral team living off scraps from Carlisle unforced errors. This led to a three point Carlisle lead after ten minutes kicked by Carlisle 1fly half, Glen Weightman after a Wirral infringement on the floor. Weightman was unsuccessful a few minutes later with a much harder kick for a similar opposition error. Weightman, back from a cricket trip to Oz had a solid game, distributing when appropriate and kicking well for territory. The half back partnership will bond with time with scrum half Joe Blaylock looking lively if at times unpredictable.
Carlisle looked like scoring more points on a number of occasions but the story of the game, uncharacteristic, unforced errors saw them gifting possession to the Wirral team defending resolutely after losing the ball in contact.
Carlisle did eventually, on twenty five minutes, score a try when number 8 Gareth “Paddy” Wyllie was driven over in the right corner after sustained pressure and good movement of the ball both ways, pulling the opposition defence across the field. Weightman couldn’t convert – 8 – 0 to the city men.
Gareth Wyllie had a solid game at the base of the scrum and rucked hard at the breakdown throughout the game.
Carlisle’s set pieces worked well but Wirral came straight back after the Carlisle try with good movement right to left finding the Carlisle backs defence thin, a neat kick chase and re-gather followed by quick distribution saw a try under the posts putting the Merseyside team a point behind. The first half continued with the home side having most of the possession but not turning that into points as often as possibly they should, but take nothing from the frequent scrambling of the visiting defence.
Carlisle lock, Callum Rowlandson, made good yards with strong carries throughout the game and defensively will leave many of the opposition sore today; another of the front five, loose head prop Callum Hermeston, was solid in the set piece and carried often and with purpose throughout the game.
Carlisle did score again before the break, many phases of possession with good support and distribution saw right wing, Edinburgh Uni student, Matt Minett driven over by way of maul wide out right – 13pts to 7.
Carlisle, disappointingly let the Wirral 12 stay on his feet and off load close to the home line with the last play of the first half, Carlisle lacking defensively in midfield, which throughout the game, was not the norm but allowing a converted try making the half time score line 13 – 14.
That’s how the score finished with the visitors not looking like they would score, Carlisle however did and should have but for wrong options; kicking away possession instead of sustaining pressure and failing to keep hold of the ball going into contact
It was good to have Lewis Boyd a constant threat hitting the line at pace and on many occasions looking like he may break free. Carlisle’s commitment was never in question, centre Barry Earl loosening a tooth in contact, pulling it out at the side of the pitch prior to returning to the fray to finish the battle, nice smile Barry!!
Tom Graham worried the Wirral defence throughout but Carlisle finishing frustrated. Fair play to the visitors, they never gave up, defended resolutely and finished with the spoils.
Not exactly the result that their effort deserved but after an indifferent start to the season, Carlisle will take heart from a much improved performance and the display should boost their confidence for the first of local derbies at Wigton next week.
RFU North 1 West League, 1st October 2011
SCORERS FOR CARLISLE:
Tries: Matt Minett (1) & Gareth Wylie (1)
Pens: Glen Weightman (1)
MAN OF THE MATCH: – Tom Graham
15 Lewis Boyd
14 Matt Minett
13 Luke Bell
12 Barry Earl
11 Dan Holmes
10 Glen Weightman
9 Joe Blaylock
1 Callum Hermeston
2 Tom Graham
3 Martin McGimpsey
4 Mark Barron (Captain)
5 Callum Rowlandson
6 Carl Wills
7 Bobby Sherlock
8 Gareth Wylie (Dan Smithson)
16 Dan Smithson
17 Joe Anderson
18 Louis Cawley