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Carlisle’s tense win over the newly promoted Widnes has moved the Warwick Road side from the relegation zone of North 1 West.
Carlisle are now joint eleventh in the league with Anselmians, who are in their North West 1 debut season, trailing by just one point.
Thanks to acting captain Bobby Sherlock (Mark Barron is still injured) Widnes spent the first half blinded by rare Cumbrian sunshine, which gave Carlisle the advantage. Within the first three minutes, however, Carlisle had conceded a penalty for not rolling away, which Widnes winger Kevin Leadbetter duly crossed over the sticks to make it 3-0 to the visitors.
Carlisle’s pack dominated from the outset, with the much-fancied Widnes front row on the back foot for the entire game. Eddie Faulder in particular made an impression on the game, standing in for 1st team stalwart Martin McGimpsey. At just 19 years old, and scrummaging exceptionally well, he can be proud of the torment he put his opponent through.
The visitor’s ability to move the ball quickly to their lively wingers came to fruition within the first twenty minutes of the first half, as Matty Smith outran the Carlisle defence and gifted Leadbetter a try, which he was unable to convert.
The home side’s physical dominance often starved Widnes of decent ball, but when the Cheshire outfit managed to create platforms for their backs, they looked dangerous. Given the performance of their back three, it’s no wonder Widnes are now sitting high in the table in their debut season. However, Widnes’ past in the league below was telling as they began to make a lot of mistakes at the breakdown, especially under the pressure of Carlisle’s pack. Twenty seven minutes in, Carlisle were firmly camped in the visitor’s half, and fly-half Glen Weightman managed to convert a penalty to make it 8-3. From the restart Carlisle turned the ball over, and again became entrenched in Widnes’ half. Five minutes before the half-time whistle, full-back James Rocke ran a brilliant line in the away team’s 22 metre area, to touch down to the right of the posts.
Weightman was able to convert with ease. At the opening of the second half, Carlisle began to turn the screws and apply more pressure to Widnes, who were fighting frantically to remain in the game. The away team attacked the Carlisle line well, and although at times the home side seemed strained in defence, they managed to force several errors from Widnes, who always fell short in their attacking play. At sixty nine minutes, the Carlisle pack were beginning to demoralise their opponents, and nearly every scrum was reset due to Widnes’ errors.
After seven reset scrums on Widnes’ five metre line, the referee decided to award Carlisle a penalty try, and sent the visitor’s scrum-half Mike Lamb to the sin bin.
Another easy conversion from Glen Weightman put the score at 17-8 to Carlisle.
At 78 minutes, and after further infringements from the Widnes pack, Weightman was again called on to convert a penalty, making it 20-8.
For the final stretch of the game, Carlisle began to ease off, and Widnes’ once frantic counter attack started to trouble the home team, with the visitors’ winger Matty Smith running through two tackles to score an unconverted consolidation try in the 79th minute.
Man of the match again goes to Tim Hughes, who’s aggressiveness and enthusiasm were an example to everyone on the field.
Man of the match: Tim Hughes
Scorers for Carlisle:
Tries: James Rocke (1) Pen try: (1)
Cons: Glen Weightman (2)
Pens: Glen Weightman (2)
15 James Rocke
14 Martin Brodie
13 Matt Tinsley (Barry Earl)
12 Simon Little
11 Matt Minett
10 Glen Weightman
9 Tim Hughes
1 Joe Anderson
2 Tom Graham
3 Eddie Faulder
4 Paul Halliday
5 Callum Rowlandson
6 John Holmes
7 Bobby Sherlock (C)
8 Gareth Wylie (Dan Smithson)
16 Dan Smithson
17 Barry Earl
18 Ross Olney
Next time out: 19th November at Aspatria – 2.15 pm.
The Crusaders had a traumatic trip to Stockkport where they lost 10 pts to nil, Arriving late after their coach broke down. they never really got into their stride.
The Hornets entertained Whitehaven 2’s at Warwick Road and ran out victors in an entertaining match.
The Colts went down in a thriller on Teeside where Billingham had a comfortable victory.