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Friday, 21 November 2014

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Millom possess ball the most but Zebras earn their stripes

WORKINGTON scored seven tries in beating a resolute Millom side 46-7 in south Cumbria. But it was also the Zebras’ defence that ensured the North Lancs Cumbria victory as bottom-of-the-table Millom did have the greater share of the ball.

That defence was only broken once, when the Millom backs broke down the right-hand side and centre Jason Metcalfe had the space and speed to beat the defensive line to score. Full back Michael Holmes converted.

Following that, the Zebras’ line remained intact and at the heart of this defensive effort was scrum-half John Chisnall. It was his tackling, especially on home number eight Trevor Dixon, to ensure that for all the ball the hosts had a lot of it was on the back foot.

The first half had been a close affair for most of the time after Kevin Harper had converted a sixth-minute penalty for a handling in the ruck offence. Then Simon Beare, playing at full back, joined the line and scored a try in the 15th minute.

Workington had made a number of openings and had always looked dangerous but the strong Millom defence, and taking wrong options, had kept the score at 8-0 for over 20 minutes. That changed when good hands released debutant Callum Moffat with room to show off his pace and he touched down for a try, with Harper converting.

The Zebras’ forwards then took the restart right back and David Bowe broke through several tackles. He was brought down near to the line, but the ball was quickly recycled and Bede O’Connor scored in the right hand corner for a 22-0 half-time lead.

After the converted try by Millom, the Zebras should have scored two tries when both Beare and Ross Dougherty lost possession as it seemed easier to score.

The Zebras’ first try of the half came in the 50th minute when good work in the backs enabled O’Connor to score on the right-hand touchline.

Matt Gorley, who had been having a good game throughout, then picked-up a loose ball and had the strength and pace to beat three defenders in a 65-metre run to the line. Harper converted.

Gorley doubled his tally in the 71st minute following a scrum close to the Millom line and Harper duly converted.

The Zebras, however, kept the best for the last try, with a sweeping movement over half the length of the pitch. Players gave the ball at the right time and support on either side left Harper free to run in from 20 metres.

Egremont fought hard at home to Kirkby Lonsdale but were eventually beaten 17-6 after a tight contest.

The West Cumbrians had the best of the opening exchanges, tackling well and forcing Kirkby Lonsdale to concede penalties for holding on after the tackle. Liam Nicholls converted one of these from thirty metres out.

When Kirkby Lonsdale responded and threw everything into the attack, the Egremont defence held firm and kept them at bay. All the hard work was undone when, instead of clearing the ball won from a scrum 20 metres from their own try-line, a slow, careless Egremont pass was intercepted by a Kirkby Lonsdale centre who went over unopposed for a try in the corner.

More hard yards gained by the Egremont forwards with Neil Richardson, Daniel Barwise and Mark Graham to the fore earned another penalty in the Kirkby Lonsdale twenty-two and Nicholls made no mistake with the kick to regain the lead.

Just before half-time Egremont again got into trouble in their own twenty-two, failing to clear the ball when the opportunity arose but luckily they survived to end the half one point in the lead.

Most of the play after the break was in the Egremont half as the home side continued to make life difficult for themselves and they had to withstand a lot of pressure from mobile opposition.

Egremont defended well but were unable to stop Kirkby Lonsdale scoring two more tries from close quarters. The first from a five metre scrum and the second from a five metre line-out ten minutes from the end as the ball was driven over the line to deprive Egremont of a bonus point. The last try was converted.

St. Benedict’s collected a valuable 25-19 home win over Upper Eden, although they remain the only team in the league without a bonus point.

They had started well and Stephen Nelson, who has been converted into a flanker from winger, drove in from a ruck. Although he was held on the line, the other forwards drove him over for the try which Kurt Maudling converted.

A mistake in defence allowed Upper Eden to come back with an unconverted try but Benny’s then applied strong pressure, forcing a penalty which Kurt Maudling put over.

Jamie Jardine was held-up five metres out and Russell Burns was tackled into touch in the corner, but the heavy pressure eventually won another penalty which Kurt Maudling put over.

Jardine worked strongly up-front for Benny’s and after another telling burst he was able to set up Stephen Routledge for an unconverted try in the corner.

But right on half-time Upper Eden got back into the contest when a cross-kick caught-out the Benny’s defence and they scored a try which was converted.

Benny’s man of the match Scott Wood went close at the start of the second-half and Gavin Maudling was held-up just short.

Then Upper Eden had their best spell of the match with 20 minutes of strong pressure which fu8lly tested the home defence.

They were unable to break through, however, and 12 minutes from time Kurt Maudling relieved the siege with a great run from his own line. Brother Gavin Maudling was with him in support and he took the pass to race 60 yards for a clinching try. Kurt Maudling converted.

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