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Carlisle have been threatening for a while to put on a bit of style after a season of hard slog.
A poor start to the campaign left the city side rooted to the basement for the first quarter of the season. Performances have gradually improved, and now after grinding out results to climb the table and consolidate, they are now showing what they are really capable of.
Unlucky in the away match at Leigh in the autumn, Carlisle had a score to settle having lost narrowly. At full strength for the visit of Leigh, Carlisle set about the task with a competent performance; the pack creating a platform for the threes to put on a display of attacking rugby not seen for a while.
After the initial probing exchanges, the Carlisle eight settled down and were soon supplying the outfield with ample ball to enjoy and threaten the visiting rearguard. That is not to say though that Leigh didn’t cause some unease at times, because when their backs managed some ball they did pose some discomfort with their nippy wingmen.
Carlisle opened on six minutes with a Glen Weightman penalty, although this was subsequently equalled before, on 24 minutes Carlisle got over with a driving maul for Tom Graham to touch down for a try that was unconverted. Within four minutes Leigh were again back on equal terms with a well taken try. That was to be the lot for the Lancashire men though, because from then on it was Carlisle to the fore.
Full back Lewis Boyd was unlucky with a try disallowed, the referee having the only unsighted view in the ground, but he got is reward on 32 minutes after good work with his fellow backs, he lanced his way through for five points, and a lead at the break of 5 pts.
With no obvious affect to the cohesion of the Carlisle pack, lock Mark Barron (arm injury) was replaced by Dan Smithson and Carlisle remained in command, apart from the occasional foray by Leigh, for the rest of the match.
Weightman stretched the Carlisle advantage with a couple of penalties on 47 and 51 minutes. Not having had a winning bonus point for tries scored during the season there was a feeling around the home support that things were about to change, and how right they were! On the hour mark and after good interplay, young centre Matt Minett got over wide left for a try but the extras went begging! Minett has had a regular berth at outside centre in recent matches and there has been a noticeable improvement in his play week on week. With a style of play that belies his years, the youngster throws his all into the game. Aside from his obvious ball skills, Minett is a dependable defender too, and opponent’s know he is around.
Indiscipline was affecting the Leigh performance and within a short period two of their number found their way to the bin!
Carlisle replaced prop Biff McGimpsey with Alex Neil on 27 minutes, and the promising youngster soon showed why he in contention for a regular slot in the team.
Two more fines tries on 70 and 80 minutes from centre Barry Earl, and Lewis Boyd capped an entertaining display by Carlisle. The final try in particular caught the eye. Boyd, coming up in support too a pass midfield and deep in his own half. He caught the Leigh defence completely on the hope as he thrust upfield, uncatchable despite valiant attempts, to score between the posts giving Weightman the simplest of conversions.
A good effort that should have erased any lingering fears of relegation and allow the lads to build their confidence in the remaining four league matches of the season.
Man of the Match:
A tough call, because all 15 (18) gave their all, but perhaps, Boyd Minett and scrum half Tim Hughes, all deserve a special mention this time.
Carlisle 36 pts Leigh 8 pts
RFU SSE North 1 West League
Saturday, 10th March 2012
Scorers for Carlisle:
Tries: Tom Graham (1), Matt Minett (1), Barry Earl (1) & Lewis Boyd (2).
Cons: Glen Weightman (1).
Pens: Glen Weightman (3)
The Carlisle squad:
15 Lewis Boyd
14 Dan Holmes
13 Matt Minett
12 Barry Earl
11 Martin Brodie
10 Glen Weightman
9 Tim Hughes
1 Joe Anderson
2 Tom Graham
3 Martin McGimpsey (Alex Neil)
4 Mark Barron (Dan Smithson)
5 Callum Rowlandson
6 Andrew Blaney
7 Bobby Sherlock (C)
8 Gareth Wylie
16 Dan Smithson
17 Alex Neil
18 James Rocke (not used)
No match next week. Windes (A) on 24th March.