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Carlisle almost extracted retribution over Vale of Lune at Powderhouse Lane on Saturday after a drubbing at Warwick Road in the early weeks of the season.
At that time the Warwick Road men were struggling with a host of injuries and were depending on a few youngsters who, at that time were lacking experience. Since then however, Carlisle have increased in confidence and ability and are far from recognisable as the side that started the season.
Vale started brightly enough, but gradually the Carlisle pack started to exert their influence and gave their hosts a hard time, with little the Lancaster side could do to counter their strength. Although perhaps far from the finished article, the youngsters that have filled the prop berths that many thought would be impossible, withstood examination well.
Although two unconverted tries down within the first quarter of an hour, the visitor’s stuck to the task in hand and battled well, rucking and mauling with purpose; on some occasions driving Vale back by sixty or so yards. It paid off, with the intensity of their play in the home twenty two area, causing panic in the defence.
Just on the half hour mark, Carlisle drove over line with pivot Gareth Wylie, getting the touchdown; but fly half Glen Weightman screwed the conversion opportunity.
By now Carlisle were really gaining in confidence, and there was a sense of tension running through the home side (and amongst their supporters). Clearly they had not expected to fight for the spoils and had anticipated a push over!
Carlisle kept to their task and their efforts were rewarded right on the break when lock Callum Rowlandson barged through the rearguard for the points and Weightman made no mistake with his conversion attempt, putting his side into the interval with a two point advantage.
Following the restart Carlisle continued to take the game to Vale, although within four minutes Rowlandson had to retire with a knew injury and was replaced from the bench by Dan Smithson. Within a minute they added to their tally when winger Matt Minett touched down, but no conversion.
However, within five minutes Vale had pulled the game back to within a couple of points with another try and a Carlisle then had to contend with a spell of pressure, during which Martin Brodie left the bench to replace veteran back Simon Little.
With twelve minutes of the contest remaining full back Lewis Boyd saw yellow for alleged illegal handling, and within a couple of minutes suffered the killer blow of try number four to add to the penalty when Boyd was “binned”.
Alex Neil came off the bench for his senior debut to replace prop Joe Anderson, and despite showing initial nerves, he soon showed why he was deserving of consideration.
Alex Neil made his first team debut coming off the bench to prop.
In the last ten minutes Carlisle really had the Vale defence under severe pressure and spent the period virtually camped on the home line. Vale conceded a number of penalties, and with the referee having already signalled the last play, the city side managed to keep possession. Under the posts, the home stand off half ran round to the back of the Carlisle pack and grabbed the ball out of the scrum, but his deliberate offending that ought to have been punished, didn’t even bring the penalty try that would have landed Carlisle the win they deserved from a gritty performance.
Carlisle now go into the break with a bonus point added from the narrow defeat, but will be reflecting on what might have been. There are sides above them with fewer games won, but benefitting from bonus points for the number of tries scored. The festive break will allowing a recharge of the batteries and recovery from niggling injuries.
Hostilities resume on 7th January when Liverpool St Helens come to Warwick Road.
Lost their home encounter by 10 pts to 5 pts over Aldwinians in the North West Leagues. The colts defeated Wigton 20 pts to 14 pts whilst the Hornets had to sit on the sideline when Creighton couldn’t amass a XV to travel across the city for a Cumbria Shield League match.
Vale of Lune 23 pts Carlisle 17 pts
RFU SSE North 1 West League
Saturday, 17th December 2011
Man of the Match: Flanker, Bobby Sherlock
Scorers for Carlisle:
Tries: Gareth Wylie (1), Callum Rowlandson (1) & Matt Minett (1).
Cons: Glen Weightman (1).
The match team:
15 Lewis Boyd
14 Dan Holmes
13 Simon Little (Martin Brodie)
12 Matt Tinsley
11 Matt Minett
10 Glen Weightman
9 Tim Hughes
1 Joe Anderson (Alex Neil)
2 Stewart Graham
3 Ed Faulder
4 Mark Barron (C)
5 Callum Rowlandson (Dan Smithson)
6 Josh Holmes
7 Bobby Sherlock
8 Gareth Wylie
16 Alex Neil
17 Dan Smithson
18 Martin Brodie