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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Egremont avoid drop to stay in North Lancs Cumbria league

Egremont will be staying in North Lancs Cumbria next season after a plucky effort to avoid a quick return to the Cumbria League.

Rugby union action photo
Zebras' Bede O'Connor

Two escape routes were possible on Saturday – firstly, a home win over Didsbury Toc H and even if that failed, defeat for De La Salle at Workington would be enough.

In the end both results went Cumbria’s way as Egremont won a thriller 30-26 and Workington beat their Salford visitors 32-19.

At Bleach Green, captain Chris Temple led from the front, helping set-up an early attack which ended with Liam Nicholls being stopped just five metres short.

Andy Donaldson was next to make inroads into the Didsbury twenty-two down the right wing before feeding the ball inside to the supporting forwards and Mark Cottam forced his way over for a try from quick ruck possession.

Ten minutes later, Egremont failed to take advantage of an overlap when Michael Quirk broke through in support of a Jack Kelly break. However, shortly afterwards Liam Nicholls landed a penalty to increase the lead.

After being on the defensive for most of the game, out of the blue Didsbury scored when winger Tom Makin latched onto a diagonal kick and outstripped the cover defence for a well taken try in the corner.

Egremont put on a driving maul into the Didsbury 22 and when the ball came back awkwardly, Nicholls was successful with a snap drop goal attempt.

Not to be outdone, Didsbury retaliated with a switch of direction in midfield before passing the ball to danger man Makin who kicked ahead from forty metres out and he won the race to touch the ball down over the try-line.

Didsbury took the lead early in the second half with a penalty but Egremont retaliated immediately to regain the advantage.

After Temple made ground, Egremont spun the ball the ball wide from the ruck and Cottam drove up to the try-line before being tackled. From the subsequent ruck quick ball saw scrum-half Peet dummy over for a try which Nicholls converted.

More good work by the Egremont forwards followed when they won two quick rucks in succession enabling centre Michael Burrow to kick through for winger Kelly to pounce on the ball and cleverly turn the ball back inside to fullback Zander Bainbridge who crossed for a try converted by Nicholls.

Back came Didsbury with a penalty goal followed shortly afterwards with a try by their forwards after a series of pick and drives close to the Egremont line.

Play was end to end and Egremont missed a chance when they knocked on with the line at their mercy and with only four points between the teams the next score was vital.

Egremont won good scrum ball on half-way and quick handling put outside centre Burrow through a gap and he weaved his way into the Didsbury twenty-two before being tackled and when Egremont won the ball from the ruck, possession was transferred to Quirk who crashed over for a try in the corner.

Didsbury then had to score twice in the last ten minutes to win but they could only manage one try near the end when their scrum-half dummied over for a try after a five metre line-out following a penalty kick into touch near the Egremont line.

At the Ellis Workington had to withstand a De La Salle come-back before pulling clear to win an entertaining game.

But the game was marred by a bad leg break for winger Calum Moffat, making his final appearance of the season.

He will now miss eight to ten weeks of the cricket season for Workington where he is a prominent batsman and the first team wicket-keeper.

Sean Murphy had put Workington ahead when he stole the ball and raced 40 metres for an unconverted try. But De La Salle hit back effectively with a converted try which put them ahead and then Moffat got away to score and regain the lead for the Zebras.

Two unconverted tries by Chris Boyd enabled Workington to turn round 20-7 to the good.

Early in the second half Workington spread the ball wide in their own 22 and Simon Beare sent Robert Scott racing the length of the field to score by the posts. Mike Fearon converted. But then De La Salle came back well and two tries, one of them converted, edged them to within a score at 26-19.

Late on David Bowe made the game safe for Workington with a number eight pick-up and drive for the line which brought him the final try.

St. Benedict‘s were pipped 20-17 at home by the Droylsden side, Aldwinians who were a big, well organised outfit.

Benny’s were first to score when young stand-off Jamie Doran stepped four tackles, slipped the ball to Kyle Hiddleston who sent Gavin Maudling racing away to score from halfway. Kristian Wood converted.

Aldwinians then enjoyed a long spell of pressure and the home defence was severely tested with Ryan Fisher and Gavin Maudling outstanding in their tackling stints.

Eventually the pressure did tell and the visitors were able to kick a penalty, followed soon afterwards by a converted try.

Benny’s came back and went very close to scoring through Fisher but right on half-time Aldwinians charged down a clearance kick and ran in their second try, which was converted for a half-time lead of 17-7.

They also kicked a penalty early in the second half after 50 minutes but then for 20 minutes Benny’s took control. Replacements Jamie Jardine and Calum Howse were influential up-front and the go-forward from Benny’s was more effective.

After Russell Burns and Hiddleston had gone close to scoring Benny’s did reduce the arrears on 60 minutes.

Liam Cordin followed-up his own chip to gather and although tackled managed to pop the pass to Burns who scored and Wood converted.

After missing with a penalty, Wood landed one to cut the gap to three points and with the final kick of the match had a chance to level the score but saw his kick squeeze agonisingly wide.

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