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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Stars hit milestones in victory

IT was a day for milestones on Sunday with Carl Rudd and Craig Calvert both celebrating fantastic achievements.

Calvert brought up his 150th try for Haven with the first of his three and Rudd booted his 1,000th point, the second of his six conversions taking him in to four figures, after his first two were missed from tight on the touchline.

It’s a massive mark of both players, Wath Brow Hornets team-mates before turning pro, that they have retained their places this season, despite the team boasting a very different look to last year. And both, it could be argued, are playing as well as ever.

Rudd looks revitalised this term and was Haven’s main creative focus against Thunder, in a match in which, as expected, they opened their Northern Rail Cup account with relative ease.

It was scrappy at times, but trophies are not handed out in February, and with the likes of Lee Doran, Richard Varkulis, Dave Houghton, Luke Isakka and hooker Chris Smith, who produced an incredible 52 tackles, they have the basis of an outstanding pack.

The hosts dominated the first-half but losing the ever-dangerous Scott McAvoy with a knee injury did not help, and they stuttered early in the second period before recovering their composure to finish strongly.

Calvert was first on the scoresheet on eight minutes, taking possession 30 metres out with plenty to do. He chipped the cover and outpaced the remaining defence for a fine try.

Two minutes later he crossed again, this time after Houghton broke down the middle. The ball went through hands before McAvoy sensibly fed Calvert who made it 8-0.

Haven were rampant and made good ground on the next set when Isakka ran on to Rudd’s short pass at pace, McAvoy this time grabbing the try.

Thunder reversed the one-way traffic on 21 minutes, impressive prop Brett Waller taking advantage after Ben Karalius failed to find touch with penalty kick and the hosts were penalised for ball-stealing in front of their sticks.

Ryan Clarke added the first of his three conversions.

Calvert’s third try was the pick of the bunch. He left his left wing to take a ball out of defence, broke the line and raced 60 metres to score.

Rudd celebrated his goal, which brought up his 1,000 point, with a clenched fist.

Smith broke off his superb defensive duties to add to Haven’s try tally before the break, Karalius breaking through and finding the hooker in support.

The Cumbrians looked a little flat in the opening 15 minutes of the second-half, with Gateshead enjoying more than their share of territory.

Winger Ash Williams crossed in the corner after Haven prop Paul Cullnean lost the ball in his own half in a heavy challenge.

A chance looked to have gone begging after Karalius’ clearing kick took a turn and was gathered by Chris Fleming.

A defender got his fingertips to the winger’s attempted inside pass, but the hosts regained possession and moments later, Fleming did well to touch down near the corner flag.

Haven were pegged behind their line from the re-start and sub Stephen Welton took advantage to score.

Thunder had their tails up, but Doran rose to the challenge, and he led the counter attack, getting through a ton of work.

He defused a kick behind his own line and then earned a penalty, a powerful run from Varkulis ending only when he was hit high in the shadow of Gateshead’s posts. Another great run from Doran put his side on the front foot and Varkulis then steamed on to Rudd’s pass to score.

Calvert mopped up when Thunder dinked another kick behind their line, and Haven finished with try, Andreas Bauer profiting from a dangerous low kick from the excellent Rudd.

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