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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Three-try heroes

Cumbria 12 ANZAC RL 64

THE dynamic ANZACs may have taken the spoils at Derwent Park, but plucky Cumbria went down battling.

A team composed in the main of part-time players were just 28-4 adrift of the world-class superstars at the break.

And it was only in the closing stages when fatigue set in that they conceded a few soft tries.

Cumbria could not be too disappointed to lose to a combined Australia and New Zealand team that would probably be more than a match for any of our Super League clubs.

Cumbria’s half-back combination Craig Walsh and Jon Roper performed creditably under immense pressure from the ANZAC defence.

Veteran Paul Davidson rolled back the years and was reminiscent of his old self when at St Helens, fearlessly charging into the massed ranks of ANZACs.

At the other end of the age scale, 17-year-old Shaun Lunt belied his youth with some powerful bursts from dummy-half after his appearance off the bench.

And winger Craig Calvert, 20, yet again showed himself to be a superb prospect with a couple of well-taken tries.

The crowd of over 4,000 was hushed in the opening moments, a nervous tension gripping many, who seemed to expect the mighty ANZACs to break through at any second.

But in the early exchanges, Cumbria matched the visitors, with the front row of youngster Dean Burgess, Carl Sice and Marc Jackson holding nothing back.

The first major chance fell to the hosts, David Seeds chipping over the top for Calvert to chase, only for full back Matty Bowen, the North Queensland Cowboys player, to reach the ball a fraction ahead of the winger.

Aussie Brett Kimmorley, captain of his Cronulla Sharks team and one of the world’s top scrum halves, was soon in the thick of the action.

His run along the line created space for prop Mark O’Meley - known to rugby league fans as Shrek - who looked set to score until Craig McDowell pulled off an outstanding tackle to deny the Canterbury and New South Wales hardman.

O’Meley and Kimmorley combined in another dangerous move moments later, only for David Seeds to steal the ball from the scrum half in the tackle.

The inevitable ANZAC try came on 10 minutes and it was no surprise that full back Matty Bowen was the source.

Bowen cut loose from 30 metres out from the scrum base and stepped through to score, Kimmorley adding the first of his nine goals.

Three minutes later, the awesome O’Meley scored the first of his three tries, shrugging off a couple of would-be tacklers on his way to the line.

Normally, such an effort would be written off as weak defence. But with a man-mountain like O’Meley up against them, it would not do to be too unkind to the Cumbrians.

On 19 minutes, Cumbria proved the ANZACs were vulnerable, Sice latching on to Roper’s grubber to score, only for Kiwi ref Glen Black to rule out the try for offside - on the word of his touch judge.

Cumbria were then shaken by two tries in as many minutes as the visitors visibly stepped up the tempo.

Winger Matt Cooper, of the St George Illawarra Dragons, scored the first after seizing on a loose ball. And from the re-start, the ANZACs launched another decisive attack.

Melbourne Storm prop Alex Chan fed fellow Kiwi Clinton Toopi, of the New Zealand Warriors, for a dangerous break down the right.

Sice and Gary Broadbent combined to bring him down but Cumbria could do nothing to stop Bradford Bull Shontayne Hape charging over moments later.

Roper’s 40-20 kick set up Cumbria’s next attack, Matt Gardner’s long pass creating space for Calvert to cross in the corner.

But the ANZACs had the final say of the half, Bowen setting up Wests Tigers hooker Dene Halatau for a try.

Calvert showed he could use his searing pace in defence as well as attack four minutes into the second half, when Toopi cut loose down the right.

But later in the set, the accomplished Kimmorley - who was engineering virtually all of the ANZAC attacks - put O’Meley in for his second try.

Kimmorley was at the centre of the next touch down four minutes later, finding his half-back partner Scott Hill, of Melbourne Storm, who charged on to the ball at pace in an unstoppable burst to the line.

Cumbria notched their second try on 51 minutes, Davidson’s offload creating the initial space and Walsh hacking through for Calvert to win the race to the line.

The try gave the hosts new confidence and they were soon in for another four-pointer. It almost fell to Calvert after Walsh kicked through for him from his own half.

Toopi managed to thwart the winger just a couple of metres from glory. But the ball was worked right and second-rower Oliver Wilkes crossed out wide.

The 40-12 scoreline, after virtually an hour, was highly-respectable for Cumbria.

But four ANZAC tries in the final quarter put a slightly different complexion on the match.

Hape was at the heart of much of the ANZACs’ best work late in the game. And he enjoyed much more freedom when switched to the left side than he had when playing down the right channel.

A 40-metre Sice break deserved a try for Cumbria but Roper’s follow-up kick through the ANZAC line fell flat, Brisbane Broncos and Queensland star Brent Tate gathering close to his line and running 90 metres to score.

Sub Henry Fa’afili - who will be playing for Warrington in Super League in 2005 - then took Hape’s inside ball to cross under the posts.

Bradford star Hape followed up with his own try, showing deceptive pace to fly down the touchline and evade the cover.

O’Meley had the final say, again showing formidable power to shrug off tacklers and touch down in the closing seconds, Bowen adding the extras.

On this showing, Kimmorley and O’Meley must be close to Test call-ups for Australia’s clash with Great Britain tomorrow night.

The Cumbrians, meanwhile, will no doubt enjoy a few weeks of rest before returning to pre-season work with their clubs.

They can go into their holidays with the satisfaction of knowing that despite being out-gunned, they gave their best. We can ask no more.

CUMBRIA

Gary Broadbent (Whitehaven), Craig Calvert (Haven), David Seeds (Haven), Matt Gardner (Leeds), Ade Gardner (St Helens), Jon Roper (Oldham), Craig Walsh (Haven), Dean Burgess (Workington Town), Carl Sice (Haven), Marc Jackson (Haven), Howard Hill (Haven), Oliver Wilkes (Leigh), Craig McDowell (Keighley).

Subs: Wesley Wilson (Haven), Chris McKinney (Haven), Jamie Beaumont (Town), Shaun Lunt (Castleford), Paul Davidson (Haven)

ANZAC RL

Matt Bowen, Matt Cooper, Brent Tate, Shontayne Hape, Jamaal Lolesi, Scott Hill, Brett Kimmorley, Mark O’Meley, Dene Halatau, Paul Rauhihi, Clinton Toopi, Wairangi Koopu, Alex Chan.

Subs: Ben Roarty, Henry Fa’afili, Lusi Sione, Chris Nero.

Referee: Glen Black (New Zealand)

Attendance: 4,203

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