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In his programme notes for the game the skipper, Mark Barron implored the players to win the match so that the victory could be dedicated to the memory of David Burnett, a former president of the club and who died just before Christmas.
David would have been proud of the way victory was deservedly delivered on the day.
Carlisle widened the void above relegation zone with this victory. The Warwick road side earned a 23-18 victory against Liverpool St Helens, who had beaten Carlisle 52-0 earlier this season. The match was another milestone in Carlisle’s continued improvement, with heavy forwards play coupled with superb attacking play from the back line.
Although the match was fought fiercely by both teams, it was clear from the onset that Carlisle intended to make amends for the previous encounter between the two sides. Carlisle kicked off, though it wasn’t long before they gained possession from Liverpool.
A knock on led to a Liverpool scrum, and an early engage led to a Carlisle penalty on the visitor’s 22 metre line. Rather than kick for three points, Glen Weightman spotted a gap and opted for a cross field kick to Carlisle’s left wing, where Liverpool St Helens were caught unaware.
The ball bounced over the visitor’s try line, and just before it entered the dead ball area, Barry Earl was able to touch down. Weightman was able to convert the first in what was to be a 100% success rate for the Carlisle fly-half on the afternoon.
The Cumbrians dominated much of the first quarter, only allowing their Merseyside counterparts the odd counter-attack. Carlisle forced another penalty as Liverpool attempted to wheel the scrum, which ended up collapsing.
On 19 minutes, Weightman was able to make it 10-0 to Carlisle. Although Carlisle started strongly, St Helens began to claw their way into the game, and some fast paced forwards work saw their second row Dave Westhead gain five points, despite the cries of ‘held up’ by the home supporters.
Strong winds and the difficulty of the kick meant the try went unconverted. Despite the weather, Liverpool swung the ball out through their backs, trying to find holes in the Carlisle defence. On one occasion, Liverpool managed to break through Carlisle’s defence with a two man overlap, but threw the ball forward for a Carlisle scrum. The home side remained resolute, however, and a counter-attack provided a penalty for infringements at the ruck.
Weightman was able to secure another 3 points for his side. Liverpool did manage to come away with some points, as a penalty inside Carlisle’s half was tipped over by full-back Matt Cunliffe. The score was 13-8 going into half-time. Following the break, both teams knew that the second half would be a battle. Carlisle were desperate to win over the highly placed visitors and Liverpool were left wondering how they were losing to a side they so easily beaten in September. Both teams started strongly, and throughout the second half took turns camping in each other’s half.
It was Liverpool who would eventually break the deadlock, as winger Ian Stanley managed to step round Carlisle’s defence. A quick pass to Dave Westhead allowed him his second try, which again went unconverted, leaving the score at 13 apiece. It wasn’t long before Carlisle retook the lead however, as a the home side were awarded a penalty 10 metres from the visitors try line on the right wing, which Weightman stepped up to improve.
The home supporters had their hearts in their mouths as the ball just scraped in, bouncing off the post and once again taking Carlisle into the lead. With the score now at 16-13, Carlisle began to apply pressure to Liverpool’s defence. There were brief periods where the visitors tried to clear their line by kicking defensively, only to have the ball returned to their half by Carlisle’s back three.
The game of aerial ping pong quickly turned into a stalemate, until Carlisle took the initiative and once again drove forward into the Liverpool defence. Second rower Callum Rowlandson set up a driving maul just 10 metres from St Helen’s try line, and the Carlisle pack surged forward. As Carlisle gained more ground, captain Mark Barron (man of the match) was tackled while he held the ball at the back of the maul.
Referee Alistair Jones awarded a penalty try, which Weightman duly converted. Josh Holmes came on as flanker for Tom McCullough, who had made his debut 1st XV appearance, and was a huge presence in the line-outs. Alex Neil also came for Joe Anderson at loosehead, but was sin-binned in the 78th minute, just four minutes after coming on.
Carlisle’s victory was not to be a fairytale finish, as Liverpool sought to answer with a try of their own. Using a quick succession of ‘pick and gos’, St Helens came within 5 metres of the Carlisle try line. Further indiscipline led to another yellow card being awarded to Carlisle’s front-row, as hooker Tom Graham was disciplined for killing the ball.
Thankfully, the need for uncontested scrums didn’t arise as the game was in its dying embers. Carlisle attempted to kick to safety but were forced to run into the opposition’s defence. Following a turn over ball, Liverpool shipped the ball out wide where Ian Stanley was able to cross over on the right wing. The conversion was missed, leaving the final score 23-18 to Carlisle. Man of the match was Glen Weightman, who with a 100% kicking success rate, and not to mention a try-scoring cross field kick, was pivotal in Carlisle’s success.
Carlisle now sit nine points above Anselmians, who are struggling in the relegation zone. Next week is another tough game for Carlisle, as they are away to Widnes, who sit 2nd in the table. With a series of home games lined up, including Wigton and Aspatria, Carlisle can now look forward and keep building on the momentum of recent results.
Saturday, 7th January 2012
RFU SSE North 1 West League
Scorers for Carlisle:
Try Barry Earl
Cons Glen Weightman (2)
Pens Glen Weightman (3)
Pen. try (1)
15 James Rocke
14 Barry Earl
13 Simon Little
12 Matt Tinsley (Ross Olney)
11 Martin Brodie
10 Glen Weightman
9 Tim Hughes
1 Joe Anderson (Alex Neil)
2 Tom Graham
3 Martin McGimpsey
4 Mark Barron (C)
5 Callum Rowlandson
6 Dan Smithson
7 Tom McCullough (Josh Holmes)
8 Gareth Wylie
16 Alex Neil
17 Josh Holmes
18 Ross Olney