Cumbrian Plate glory for Keswick
BY winning this Cumbrian Plate final the second tier of the Cumberland Cup Keswick have now re-qualified to play in the senior cup competition next season.
This was a good game played at Wigton RFC’s Lowmoor Road ground where it was enjoyed by a decent sized crowd of supporters. Silloth are the most improved side in the Cumbrian league and, having played them three times already this season, Keswick were well aware of their potential.
Keswick’s approach was inspired from the front by captain Matty Roper whose professional attitude during the build-up to the match and beyond ensured clarity of purpose, a nerveless approach and, apart from a collective 10 minute lapse in concentration close to the end of the match, a disciplined delivery.
A dropped kick-off apart, Keswick began the game well and attacked Silloth from the start. Keswick launched attacks from the base of a steady scrum and from clean lineout possession released centres Viv Wilmott and Mike Branthwaite on an increasingly regular basis.
From Silloth clearances, Keswick full back Andy Wallace initiated counter attacks and Brian Storey at stand-off made good choices with hand and foot. Storey introduced runners inside and out; forwards, Mol, Will O’Donnell and Tom Partington made their presence felt at fast won rucks, and Storey hit deep spaces with kicks which turned the opposition.
Thanks mainly to Silloth’s excellent last ditch defence and some last pass imprecision by Keswick the score sheet remained blank.
Storey broke the deadlock after 18 minutes with a well struck penalty and this seemed to provide Keswick with the cue to step up the pace. Twice during the next two minutes breaks on half way by Wilmott and Thompson, respectively, forced penetrations which led to well supported attacks.
Both of these created overlaps from which Keswick should have scored but the award to Silloth of a scrum five metres from their line provided Keswick with an irresistible opportunity to make an impression.
Anchored by prop forwards Joe Roper and James Hinkley the resultant scrum was won emphatically by Keswick and Thompson drove from the base to score. It meant an 8-0 lead for Keswick and a morale boosting demonstration of set piece prowess.
Silloth spent a small amount of time in the Keswick half during which period they missed a penalty and twice conceded possession under pressure from expert ball stealer David Ray. Keswick then stepped up the pressure and from the best move of the match thus far added to their lead with a try by Branthwaite.
Rigby made good ground and when tackled crucially kept the ball alive. Keswick instantly moved the ball left, again with admirable accuracy, and in abundant space it was Branthwaite who sprinted in to score. There were no conversion points but after a barnstorming run by O’Donnell a penalty was successfully converted by Storey.
Silloth converted a penalty chance to open their account, but Keswick returned to the attack and could and should have added to their lead before half time.
Ben Farrell entered the fray at half time as a replacement for Mol, and was instantly involved in the action. The performance of Farrell, Ray, O’Donnell and Thompson during the early second half did much to determine that the flow of the game was maintained in Keswick’s favour and Silloth were denied any opportunity to contemplate an immediate response. Keswick’s domination of the set piece continued and a lineout steal inside the Silloth 22 led to a Keswick attack which ended in the award of another penalty converted by Storey.
Keswick’s next attack failed because of the concession of a penalty, but a try in the 56th minute came after an inspired counter attack initiated by Roper was finished by McKenzie’s determined run to the line.
Keswick had a 24-3 lead, but the downside was that a foot injury sustained by Thompson appeared serious and forced him from the field.
Keswick made the necessary substitution, introducing Andy Muir, but during Silloth’s next attack were reduced to 14 men when Ray was sin binned following an alleged technical offence committed after the tackle.
Ray’s absence gave cause for concern particularly in the light of Thompson’s departure and Keswick were required to answer Silloth’s spirited revival.
Despite the concession of a greater number of penalties Keswick survived and tightened the midfield defence by introducing Harry Garner at stand off and moving Storey to centre.
Silloth’s first try was reward for sustained pressure and the award of penalties, but just after Ray’s return it was Keswick’s loss of the massively influential Matty Roper which potentially gave them the greatest hope.
Keswick were fortunate to have the experienced Jonny Hume on the replacements bench and after Silloth’s deserved second try produced a further reduction of the lead it was Hume together with Ray who inspired the restoration of control necessary to close the deal.
Keswick kept play tight for the last eight minutes of the match, controlling possession through short drives and attacking again as the best form of defence. Chasing the game Silloth played good rugby, but Keswick were not prepared to let their lead slip.
l Raging Bull Shield semi-final: Moore A 18, Keswick A 14 scorers Will Greenwell and Peter Weightman, plus two conversions by Paul Ireland.
North West League Division 4 North: Keswick 40, Keswick A 3 scorers Stephen Hodgson, Simon Grisedale, Harry Garner, Peter Weightman, Lewis Davis, Lewis Thompson, plus five conversions by Paul Ireland.