Eden leave the best until last

Date: Thursday 18th April 2019

DETERMINED to finish on a high note, Upper Eden put in a superb all-round performance with an eight-try demolition of Hawcoat Park, a side who beat them twice earlier in the season.

UPPER EDEN 54,

HAWCOAT PARK 0

The home side were immediately on the front foot and, despite handing over possession through two infringements, they prevented their opponents from making any ground.

Cameron Dickinson’s excellent break put them back on the offensive and it soon became clear that they had a welcome edge in the set scrums. For a spell they did everything but score. Will Birkbeck was about to cross for a try when play was brought back for a penalty and centre Dan Todd was stopped just short after he had cut through a gap in the defence. The ball passed through hands and Birkbeck was again held up on the line, but at last the inevitable happened. No 8 Dickinson picked up behind a scrum and his long pass found winger Alistair Civil who forced his way over in the corner. Ollie Bennett began his kicking duties well with an excellent touchline conversion.

Hawocat Park then had a spell of possession inside the Eden 22 and took play through several phases, but they were driven back 15 yards by the hosts’ line speed and aggressive first-time tackling.

Despite conceding too many penalties, Eden were soon back in charge and Sam Edgar was unlucky when a late tackle prevented him from chasing down his kick ahead. Shortly after, Civil was denied a try when he went over in the corner, but was judged to have made a double movement.

The hosts remained in control and eventually a second try came their way after Birkbeck had made ground almost to the goal-line before offloading to Dickinson who crossed near the corner. Scrum half Bennett followed up with another fine conversion.

Surprsingly, the score remained 14-0 until half-time, but Eden had established a platform, consistently making progress when in possession and preventing their opponents doing the same when they had the ball.

After the break, careless errors seemed to put Eden under pressure, but each time they countered strongly. Good handling saw centre Chris Curr held on the try line but, from the resulting scrum, the forwards were also held up. Further chances went begging due to unforced errors and, just as frustration might have set in, a superb break from inside his own 22 by full back Edgar set up Will Birkbeck who pounced on the loose ball and cut through for a converted try.

The floodgates had opened and excellent work by half backs Bennett and Joss Warren took them close for Edgar to finish off the move for another well converted try.

Following the restart, the hosts confidently ran the ball back from deep to win a lineout from which front row Matt Sanderson broke to set up Dickinson. The Eden No 8 then put in a storming run which took him close and Curr was there to finish off with a try near the posts.

After another break from deep, Dickinson was stopped just short and the visitors cleared, but Sanderson stole the ball at the back of the lineout and beat several attempted tackles on his way to the try line.

Eden were completely dominant at this stage and running the ball at will. Their next score also came from a lineout and also from a front row forward, this time Matty Bainbridge who broke from the maul and forced his way over near the corner. The difficult conversion turned out to be Bennett’s only miss of the day as his kick rebounded off the upright.

Eden were not finished and some excellent handling took them into the 22 where a knock-on wasted a three-on-one advantage with the try line wide open.

Pressure was maintained however and, following a scrum, Dickinson crowned a fine performance when, in the last play of the game, he dived over for his side’s eighth try, again converted.

Men of the match were Eden’s front row of James Birkbeck, Matt Sanderson and Matty Bainbridge. Many others deserve a mention, including Cameron Dickinson who again did a great job at No 8 and, thanks in part to work in the gym, has become a very effective ball carrier. Dan Todd, too, has matured significantly as a player and as a captain.

There have been some disappointing results for the young Upper Eden side this season, but there is no doubt that this game and the previous week’s at Aspatria represented their finest performances of the campaign. It is significant how they have improved as a team as they have gained experience and learned to overcome the loss of key players. This promises well for next season in the new Cumbria League.

Tomorrow Upper Eden host Carnforth for the John Marsden Trophy (2pm kick-off).