Keswick 8 Cockermouth 23
By Allan Lambert
Cup defeat for Keswick
Anyone who has seen Cockermouth this season would know that they are capable of playing good sustained rugby and taking advantage of every opportunity given to them. Having lost to Keswick 4 times in the league they were determined to make amends in the Cumbria League Cup on Saturday at Davidson Park.
Keswick kicked off but gave away an early penalty allowing Cockermouth to kick into the Keswick half and mount an attack. However, they lost possession and having worked their way back towards the opposition 22, Keswick were awarded a penalty which Lewis Thompson converted to make it 3-0 on 8 minutes. Keswick then found themselves having to mount attacks from deep in their half as Cockermouth mixed up running the ball, using forwards and backs in equal measure, with kicks to gain position. In broken play from outside their 22 Keswick ran the ball left but a pass bounced off a lazy Cockermouth runner into the hands of another Cockermouth player and Mark Watson ran through to score under the posts, converted by Ed Gate for 3-7 as the first quarter ended.
From the restart Cockermouth attacked again and with a one man overlap on the wing managed to knock the ball forward, a let-off for Keswick. With Keswick down a man on 24 minutes for a yellow card, Cockermouth opted for a scrum inside the 22 but gave away a penalty and Keswick cleared. Kicking to the corner Keswick had the put in to a line-out 5 metres out but lost the ball and had to start again. As the half was ending Keswick mauled from a line-out towards the Cockermouth line but lost possession again and gave away a penalty. Tapping the ball Cockermouth then passed it forward but Keswick were unable to benefit at the scrum and the half ended. The normally dominant Keswick scrum had met its match, with Cockermouth proving its equal and occasionally gaining the upper hand in this first half.
An immediate attack down the left by Keswick from the start of the second half ended with a high tackle and a yellow card for a Cockermouth player. The penalty was kicked towards the corner where Carrick Wharmby won the line-out which was then mauled to the line where he touched down for an unconverted try, 8-7 on 41 minutes. From the restart Keswick lost possession and, not making progress outside the Keswick 22, Gate dropped a goal for Cockermouth to retake the lead, 8-10 just a few minutes later.
An attack down the right made good progress with Ryan Weir, not used as much as he could have been, eventually tackled and Cockermouth giving away a penalty by coming in at the side to delay Keswick ball. From the line-out Keswick tried running the ball wide to take advantage of the extra man but the defence held firm. A promising attack was stopped by the referee for crossing and Cockermouth cleared to the Keswick 22. Making good use of kicks deep into the Keswick half, Cockermouth closed down the Keswick fullback to win a penalty which Gate converted for 8-13 on 55 minutes. Taking the ball against the head in the scrum on the Keswick 22 the Cockermouth scrum half was lucky that the referee was unsighted when he knocked forward before passing the ball to Gate who dropped his second goal to extend the lead to 8-16. Whilst dropped goals are very much a part of the game, resorting to them usually indicates that the defence is holding firm and Keswick’s was definitely doing that.
With their scrum becoming more dominant, the visitors were able to keep Keswick in their own half for too much of the last quarter of the game. When the home side did run the ball the Cockermouth tactic of the first tackler holding the player up whilst the second man in tried to strip the ball worked too well for Keswick to maintain momentum. With just 5 minutes left Cockermouth mounted another very good attack and Keswick could feel unfortunate that what from the touchline looked like obstruction was not given as Shane Cusack broke through to score under the posts, converted by Gate for 8-23.
As Keswick tried to come back and won a penalty, a Cockermouth player was yellow carded for not retreating 10 metres and interfering with play. That was followed shortly after by another yellow card for Cockermouth, this time for a high tackle, of which there had been too many during the game. With the final whistle approaching there was insufficient time for Keswick to benefit from their 2 man advantage and at the end Cockermouth deserved their 8-23 cup win, being the better team on the day. We wish them good luck in the final. Saturday sees the 1st XV play their last game of the season away at Wigton. Next season will see Keswick 1st XV playing at Level 6, the highest the Club has reached, in North One West.
Keswick 2nd XV travelled to bottom of the table Preston Grasshoppers 3rd XV for their final match of the season. Despite being short of a few regulars they came away with a 19-38 win to move into 5th place in the County Courier Services Division 2 North League. This has been a excellent season for a young team and the work done by their coaches has paid dividends. An overall record from 20 games of 10 wins, 2 draws and 8 defeats, with a points ratio of plus 127 is an excellent achievement.