End-to-end game to end a superb season
KESWICK’S final league match of the season at Wigton proved to be a cracker, with the lead changing hands three times and neither side getting a comfortable distance in front at any stage.
The first few scrums went with the feed, though it was clear that Keswick were the better side in the set piece. On 13 minutes, a penalty to Wigton 35 metres out was tapped and run left for them to take the lead with a well taken try by Elliot Armstrong, converted by Josh Leeson.
The incomplete tackles which had plagued Keswick the previous Saturday against Cockermouth were again apparent and resulted in opportunities for Wigton as well as penalties as Keswick offended.
A good attack on the right by Keswick ended with a knock forward and a scrum to Wigton in their 22, but they were still under pressure in the tight. With Wigton opting to use the wind to kick to clear, the ball was caught inside his 22 by Andy Wallace and run back to the halfway line where Wigton gave away a penalty. The ball failed to find touch and that gave the home side the chance to get back to the Keswick 22 where a knock-on ended their attack.
Attempting to run the ball from deep, Keswick gave away a penalty on 32 minutes which Leeson converted for a 10-0 home lead.
Returning to the Wigton half, a penalty to Keswick took them to the 5m line where an excellent lineout catch by Carrick Wharmby was mauled across for Dom Maguire to touch down for an unconverted try with three minutes of the half left, making the score 10-5 which is how it remained at half-time.
The second half started badly for Keswick as a good break on the left by Wigton, aided by a missed tackle, allowed Oliver Lewis to touch down in the corner to extend the lead to 15-5 as the conversion attempt was missed.
Keswick responded with a good attack on the right before picking up at the back of a scrum and getting the ball out to Oli Clark who made a good run on the right to touch down and reduce the deficit. The conversion was missed.
Wigton came back well and took advantage of a misjudged clearance kick by Keswick that went dead, resulting in a scrum on the Keswick 22. From there they reached the visitors’ line, but were adjudged to have knocked the ball forward. Dissent resulted in the scrum becoming a penalty to Keswick.
The end-to-end play continued and on 57 minutes Ryan Weir made an excellent run on the right before being brought down short. With the Wigton defence caught out of position, the ball was run left for captain Aaron Thompson to score to the left of the posts. The conversion by Lewis Thompson gave Keswick the lead for the first time, 15-17.
Poor handling and tackling caused the visitors problems, with Wigton looking to regain the lead as this exciting match entered its final quarter. Winning the ball at a lineout on their left on the Keswick 22, Wigton ran it right for Lewis to score his second try as Wigton regained the lead, 20-17.
With 15 minutes left this contest was gripping. Keswick responded immediately as the hosts knocked on from the restart. Picking up at the back of the scrum, Keswick got the ball out to the right for Weir to outpace his opposite number, then run round to touch down close to the posts, retaking the lead for the visitors. The conversion by Lewis Thompson extended that lead to four points, 20-24, which was not comfortable in a game as close as this. One try either way could settle it.
A high tackle penalty resulted in Keswick winning a lineout 10 metres out, but in the subsequent maul, the ball carrier became detached and, rejoining, created an accidental offside which Wigton used to get 45 metres upfield with just a few minutes left. However, they could not make further progress and soon found themselves back in their own 22 where a kick to touch brought the final whistle and the end of this season’s league games for both sides.
Keswick’s record in Cumbria League 1 is played 20, won 17, drawn one and lost two. They won the league by a clear 14 points.
Unless things change over the summer, next season should see them playing at level six in North One West, the highest level the club has ever reached.