Keswick 35 New Brighton 28
By Allan Lambert
Through To The Semi Final
Robinson Brewery Trophy Quarter Final
With most rugby pitches, including Keswick’s, frozen, Saturday’s 2nd XV Robinson Brewery Trophy quarter final tie against New Brighton was moved to the all weather pitch at Penrith RFC. New Brighton are in the Sale Sharks Division 2 South where it’s fair to say they are not having a good season. Keswick’s first match in this competition, in September, was a very close 25-24 away win at Tyldesley, followed by an emphatic 60-0 win away at Whitchurch. New Brighton had had 2 fairly close home wins to get to the quarter final but otherwise were an unknown quantity. Thanks are due to Penrith RFC for allowing the use of their pitch and for their excellent hospitality at the match.
Facing a physically larger team, Keswick attacked from the whistle, on a superb playing surface in bright sunshine, going 7-0 up after only 2 minutes as a twisting solo run from Chris Potter ended in a try converted by Paul Ireland. Shortly after the restart the score doubled as from a line-out the ball was run infield with some good passing between forwards and backs before a final offload from Lewis Thompson allowed Cameron Farrow to touch down under the posts, again converted by Ireland.
The next score came on the half hour when a great solo run from Danny Price on the wing saw him outpace 3 defenders to score, again converted by Ireland to take the lead to 21-0. It was clear by now that whilst New Brighton, with the physically heavier pack, were dominating the scrums, Keswick were getting the better of the line-outs and had the pacier backs.
As if to reinforce Keswick’s first half dominance, Ireland was on the scoresheet again only 2 minutes later, scoring his own try before adding the conversion himself for 28-0. Now facing a likely heavy defeat, New Brighton put a lot of pressure on the Keswick line and on 2 occasions it was only the stout defence of the Keswick team that kept them from reducing the lead; half time 28-0.
After the high scoring and general Keswick dominance of the first half it looked for a while as if the second half would be less high scoring, despite New Brighton now being in the ascendancy. They were helped in this by the loss through injury of 3 Keswick forwards early in the half, with a centre, Man of the Match Josh Graves, having to come into the pack. As the third quarter was coming to an end the New Brighton outside centre put in a great run from deep in his own half before making a pass that allowed a try under the post, converted for 28-7. Five minutes later a break-away run by New Brighton saw them halve Keswick’s lead with a converted try for 28-14.
Keswick soon extended their lead again as on 65 minutes a good run from James Sant down the left saw him score a try, followed by an excellent conversion by Ireland, 35-14. Now seemingly in the clear again, Keswick gifted New Brighton a try as an interception led to a converted try to cut the lead to 35-21 only 3 minutes later. The strength of the New Brighton pack then came into play as they pushed Keswick back across their line on 73 minutes for the game’s ninth try, again converted for 35-28. The last few minutes were tense but Keswick held on for a win which sees them progress to the semi-final. That match will be against the winners of the postponed Bowdon 2nd XV versus Chester 3rd XV match and will be an away game on Saturday 16 March.
Saturday will see the 1st XV in action at Davidson Park against Wigton in the first match of the second part of Cumbria Division One. Wigton may be in fourth place some 25 points behind Keswick but there were only 5 points in it when the teams met in January and, having scored 62 points in their last outing, Wigton must not be underestimated. The 2nd XV are also at home, facing Tarleton, 4 places above them in the County Courier Services Division 2 North.