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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Haven see off the Zebras

WORKINGTON’S descent from play-off contenders to mid-table strugglers continued with a fourth straight defeat in North Lancs Cumbria, writes John Walsh.

The Zebras went down 15 -12 to Whitehaven at The Ellis and it doesn’t get any easier as they visit leaders Wigton on Saturday.

After only four minutes some fine Whitehaven scrimmaging resulted in the ball going out to Luke Scott, who stormed away into the corner for an unconverted try.

This woke up the home side and on 13 minutes they scored their own unconverted try as Dion Seath broke clear and laid the ball off to Connor White. He made no mistake in crossing for the score.

Whitehaven were now back-pedalling as Workington continued to bombard their 22, especially with White and Seath covering every blade of the pitch. On 23 minutes they took the lead when a series of intense scrums culminated with David Bowe scrambling over the line for a hard-earned try, which Mike Fearon smoothly converted.

Both sides had try scoring opportunities during the remainder of the first half, but a combination of poor handling and clumsy knock-ons meant that none were taken.

A penalty eight minutes into the second half by replacement Stephen McCourt reduced the deficit and suddenly Whitehaven began to step up a gear as they probed their hosts’ rearguard at every turn.

However, within five minutes they found themselves 13 men down as first McCourt (high tackle) and then Callum Rowlandson (obstruction) incurred the referee’s wrath and were sin binned.

This gave Zebras the chance to regain the advantage, but amazingly, they could not find a way past the visitors’ resolute defence and they began to get irritated and anxious in equal measure.

With McCourt and Rowlandson back on, Whitehaven looked the team most likely to score and two minutes from time, did just that when centre Craig Hodgson sprinted down the middle and though brought down, managed to get the ball away to McCourt. He hacked-on and the ball was picked up by Scott, who sauntered in unchallenged to score what turned out to be the winning try. McCourt ensured victory with his conversion.

Hodgson impressed throughout for Whitehaven while McCourt’s tactical kicking in the second-half was impeccable. Flanker Mark Lancaster was the pick of the forwards.

Egremont stay rooted to the foot of the table after a 52-6 defeat at Eccles.

The club is looking for a new coach as well, as Rodger Temple has stepped down, although not because of the string of results. It is something that has been in the pipeline for three months.

Eccles led 19-6 at half-time as Egremont held their own against a much bigger pack. The home side scored three tries, two of which were converted, while Liam Nicholls replied with two penalties for the visitors.

In the second-half, however, Egremont tired and Eccles used their strength and power to pull well clear, scoring five more tries and converting four of them.

St Benedict’s put up a gutsy effort at second-placed Aldwinians before they went down 15-3.

Player coach Ian Maguire described it as the best display by Benny’s on their travels at this level.

They had travelled to Droylsden without nine regular first-teamers and a number of players being thrown in with just limited second team experience.

They had to play with 14 men for the last 45 minutes after Maguire was sent-off, retaliating to an elbow in the face.

They had taken the lead with a penalty from Jamie Doran and although Aldwinians levelled with a penalty of their own, it was Benny’s who dominated the game.

Ryan Fisher and Daniel Appleton were both held-up near the home line while Kyle Hiddlestone put-in Russ Anderson but he was knocked into touch close to the corner flag.

Turning point came late in the half when Gavin Maudling was sin-binned and soon afterwards Maguire was shown a straight red. From that play Aldwinians scored an unconverted try to lead 8-3 at the break.

It looked menacing when they added another unconverted try soon after the restart but then Benny’s knuckled down to defend superbly. The back row of Steve Nelson, Gavin Maudling and Gordon Maudling tackled everything that moved.

In fact they finished strongly and were close to grabbing what would have been a deserved bonus point. Doran broke away but Aldwinians just got back to nail him three yards short of the line.

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