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Having last played at the end of January when they overcame Wigton at Warwick Road, Carlisle have been frustrated with a two week break, their away fixture with Broughton Park having been twice postponed due to the weather!
That said the weather almost intervened again on Saturday. On Friday the pitch had recovered and was in great condition after some TLC. Overnight rain was expected but not the downpour that left the ground swamped in midfield pools.
Determined not be deprived of a match, several of the lads responded to an early morning call to help the groundsman to make sure rugby went ahead. A couple of hours hard graft, and three hours of sun and wind worked wonders and the game went ahead on time.
Hard graft didn’t end there though, because Carlisle were confronted by a Northwich team still in the hunt for the promotion play off place, and bouyed by their last away victory at leaders, Sandbach. So, the city men knew they were in for an afternoon of hard work. Northwich vanquished Carlisle in Cheshire early in the season, with a 50 pts demolition. Since then though, Carlisle have improved beyond recognition, and although they occupy eighth slot in the table, the relegation spots are by no means settled.
Whilst all below them, with the exception of Anselmians, losing on Saturday, and a losing bonus point, the comfort of mid table remains for the time being!
Warwick Road was not a place for purists on Saturday afternoon even if what was on display was an absorbing encounter. The Carlisle pack, dependable as ever, had an afternoon that tested their mettle, but then the same can be said of Northwich who, despite there obvious weight advantage were unable to make any inroads through the Carlisle defensive operation that was succesful at keeping them at bay, certainly in the opening half.
Just after the midway point in the first half Northwich lost their scrum half, Mike Gallimore to a yellow card, although within five minutes his team were ahead through a penalty from fly hald Grant Hallam.
Carlisle recovered from this set back and, playing towards the clubhouse, managed to exert a period of pressure on the line, but the Cheshiremen’s defence held firm. Fly hald Glen Weghtman drew his side level seven minutes before the break with a fine dropped goal.
Equal at the break, Carlisle were forced in making a change to the front row; prop Joe Anderson was unwell and was replaced by Ed Faulder.
Within thrtee minutes of the restart prop Lawrence Cray managed to get through the Carlisle defence for an unconverted try, that after as the home defence had probably their most testing spell of the match.
It was nip and tuck for long periods and probably a matter of who could hold their nerve the longest. Carlisle brough Lee Brumpton on at eight for Gareth Wylie and on 55 minutes, Weightman slipped up with a penalty that would have tightened things up a little.
Mark Barron replaced flanker Dan Smithson at 63 minutes and within a short time the advantage to Northwich went out eight points when Hallam pinged a penalty over. Not what Carlisle needed at this point, but undeterred and to their credit, they tried to make amends. With three minutes of normal time left Weightman opted to take a penalty rather than a scrum and a 6 pts to 11 pts, there was still a chance that they could grab the spoils. Keeping Northwich under pressure, Carlisle managed to retain possession and were unlucky not to get over.
Not a result that perhaps even Northwich were anticipating but overall perhaps they just edged it!
A losing bonus point puts Carlisle on 40 points and although it might look comfortable nothing can be taken for granted. Two successive awat matches follow, both to sides below them – Broughton Park next Saturday, followed by a trip to Wilmslow. It’s essential that the Warwick Road men get some return from these two fixtures, because they too are fighting for survival.
SSE RFU North 1 West League
Saturday, 18th February 2012
MAN OF THE MATCH
The team – for sheer determination!
SCORERS FOR CARLISLE:
Penalty: Glen Weightman 1
Dropped goal: Glen Weightman 1
THE CARLISLE SQUAD:
15 Lewis Boyd
14 Dan Holmes
13 Matt Minett
12 Barry Earl
12 Martin Brodie
10 Glen Weightman
9 Tim Hughes
1 Joe Anderson (Ed Faulder)
2 Tom Graham
3 Martin McGimpsey
4 Paul Halliday
5 Callum Rowlandson
6 Dan Smithson (Mark Barron)
7 Bobby Sherlock (Capt)
8 Gareth Wylie (Lee Brumpton)
16 Ed Faulder
17 Mark Barron
18 Lee Brumpton
Sorry, but currently we have no pictures for this match.
NEXT WEEK – 25/02/2012: Away to Broughton Park – coach leaves Warwick Road at 10 am – supporters welcome.
The Crusaders were disappointed on Saturday; just as they were getting on the coach to travel to Rossendale for a league match, in came the call to say the pitch was waterlogged.