Cockermouth 7 Keswick 24
By Andy Wallace
A well fought win against tough opposition.
Keswick’s eagerly anticipated match away at Cockermouth on Saturday did not disappoint. A large crowd saw the hosts, playing with the wind behind them in the first half, receive the ball and immediately take advantage of that wind by kicking downfield, a useful tactic in the conditions and one both sides would use when they could. Early on Keswick used the wind to hang the ball in the air to allow the chasers to get underneath it but with limited success.
Having to attack from deep because of Cockermouth’s game plan, Keswick did so by running with the ball and an early promising attack ended when the final pass went astray. The first scrum looked ominous for the home side as they were driven off their own ball and gave away a penalty, allowing Keswick to get into their 22. From the line out Keswick ran the ball but the defence held out, eventually giving away a penalty, Keswick opting for the scrum, but finding themselves pushed back and knocking on.
A pattern emerged of Keswick making progress upfield only to be pegged back by Cockermouth using the wind by kicking. This meant that they spent much of the time defending, but with the luxury of doing so in the Keswick half of the field. One kick gave them excellent field position as the ball hit the corner post and bounced out for a 5 metre line out, but they were unable to breach the Keswick defence. The scrums were fairly evenly matched in the first half, tending to go with put in, but in the line outs Keswick managed to disrupt some of the Cockermouth throw ins.
At the mid point of the first half, after another kick to the Keswick try line by Cockermouth, Keswick made progress into the Cockermouth half, slowly getting the better of the loose play and having the better of the scrums, but with both defences proving obstinate neither side was able to score. A promising Keswick attack was halted by the final pass being judged forward and shortly after another good attack ended as the final pass found touch rather than the intended player.
With just 3 minutes of the half left Keswick put in to a scrum 5 metres from the Cockermouth try line and, with penalty advantage, passed the ball left for Andy Muir to crash over for a try he was unable to convert for a 0-5 lead. The restart by Cockermouth did not go well as the wind carried the ball across the dead ball line meaning Keswick had the put in to the scrum on the half way line. Captain Aaron Thompson picked up at the back, passed to scrum half Lewis Thompson who made few yards and passed to full back Andy Wallace. He created space and passed inside to Ryan Weir, coming in from the right wing who, from 40 metres out, evaded a number of tackles to touch down under the posts, converted by Muir for a half time 0-12 lead.
The second half reversed tactics as Keswick used the wind to pin Cockermouth in their own half where they put pressure on the home side line out. During an attack on the Cockermouth line on 46 minutes a minor disagreement resulted in 2 yellow cards, one for each side. A couple of penalties allowed Cockermouth to clear but a good run on the left by Chris Potter got Keswick to within 10 metres before he was tackled into touch. As Cockermouth defended they came in at the side and a Keswick penalty kick at goal was unsuccessful.
Cockermouth’s clearance kicks did little to relieve the pressure as they found the ball run back at them or kicked to their goal line without getting out of their half. From a scrum 15 metres out Keswick picked and ran, driving for the line line but held up. Recycling, the ball was given to Michael Tait who crossed for an unconverted try on the right, 0-17 on 60 minutes. Not to be outdone, Cockermouth attacked from the restart with Sam Wilson making a great run but unable to make the last few metres before being brought down and a scrum resulting 15 metres out. Good pressure on the Keswick line ensued until Adam Brough was able to power his way across for a try converted by Ed Gate to reduce the gap to 17-7 on 64 minutes.
In the last quarter of the game Keswick used the wind well and mainly kept Cockermouth in their half of the field, but stout defence kept them from scoring. Keswick tried running the ball through the backs and driving through the forwards but were unable to make the last metre across the line. As Cockermouth tired and Keswick sought a 4-try bonus point, the scrum option was taken at a penalty 5 metres out and as the scrum drove over the Cockermouth line Aaron Thompson picked up from number 8 and touched down, converted by Muir for a 7-24 lead with 2 minutes left. That was not enough time for the scoreboard to be troubled again and so that was the final score. With Aspatria losing at Wigton by a single point, Keswick’s lead at the top is now 15 points with 4 games left. If Aspatria hope to come back and overtake Keswick they have to start by winning their next game, which is at Davidson Park on Saturday 2 March. That promises to be another cracker of a fixture.
Injuries meant that the 2nd XV were unable to send a team to Colne & Nelson, who therefore get an automatic home win. Their next game is away at Littleborough on Saturday 23rd February. Both teams are at home at Davidson Park on Saturday 2 March.