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Aspatria card tricks not magical! PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Dixon close v Leeds.jpgIn the quarter final of the national Intermediate Cup, Aspatria picked the wrong day to deliver a below par performance.

They encountered a West Leeds team at the peak of their game and crashed to a 50-10 defeat and could have no complaints with the outcome of the day. West Leeds bossed the second half of the game to run out comfortable winners. 

Aspatria fielded a strong line-up and held parity for much of the first half but their challenge was eroded with a succession of yellow cards. Finally, a red card at the opening of the second period ended any hope of victory. 

The final analysis will show that Aspatria played the majority of the game with 14 men and for a short period were down to 13; against a ruthless West Leeds back-line this rendered the outcome inevitable.

Aspatria were given an early insight into the pace and accuracy of the West Leeds back division.  Within a couple of minutes of the opening only a perfectly executed last ditch tackle by centre Scott Akehurst prevented the home side taking an early lead. 

The speed at which West Leeds played these early phases was clearly testing the Aspatria defence but the rebuttal was well organised and lasted long enough to bring the Black Reds back into contention.

On 12 minutes, and against the run of play, Aspatria broke into the West Leeds half for the first time.  They would take a three-point lead with a Jack Clegg penalty but felt aggrieved that it was not more.  The move downfield was scrappy with the ball being hacked towards the try line. A two man race developed with Aspatria scrum half Jason Ward looking favourite to win the contest and open the scoring. 

Atkinson v Leeds.jpgWard was brought down with an illegal challenge and the Aspatria coaching team had grounds to think that the first yellow card of the day would be awarded against the home team but the referee deemed a penalty only.

West Leeds struck back immediately when they broke up an Aspatria attack and with a fine display of inter-passing threatened the Aspatria line.  Ward halted the move with a high tackle and under the new law interpretation the referee has little option but to issue a yellow card.  The subsequent penalty brought West Leeds level.

Aspatria had now settled down.  Strong runs from number eight Gary Hodgson and prop James Ravell moved play into the West Leeds half but Aspatria were unable to deliver a killed blow.  Clegg elected to take two penalties on 17 and 21 minutes but both scraped the wrong side of the post and an opportunity for Aspatria to establish an edge was lost.

Ward returned to the field without any damage being done to the scoreboard but moments later hooker Ali Randall was binned for interfering with a West Leeds maul heading towards the try line.

West Leeds had the best of the scrums and took this option for the penalty.  The ball was well presented and quickly moved left where Aspatria were short of a defender.

The try line was unlocked with a superb ‘missed man’ pass and the winger raced in at the corner flag.  A well taken touchline conversion gave West Leeds a lead which they would not relinquish.

Aspatria were still very much in the contest as the game entered the final ten minutes of the first half.  Hodgson continued to test the home defence with some excellent charges.  From one of these a penalty was awarded and Clegg quickly tapped and headed to the corner but he was bundled into touch inches short of the line. 

The pressure continued but the West Leeds defence handled everything thrown at them and then counter-attacked when the ball was turned over. 

Irwin v Leeds.jpgThis attack was foiled by some excellent defensive work by centre Dan Rooney but West Leeds still held a commanding position close to the Aspatria line. This was desperate stuff from Aspatria as West Leeds tried to turn the screw via a succession of scrums. 

Aspatria defended three but each time conceded a penalty and clearly tested the referee’s patience.  At the next scrum it was the same story and the penalty try was awarded to herald the end of the half and send West Leeds into the second period 17-3 ahead. 

The referee added to Aspatria’s woes by issuing a third yellow card to prop Neil Richardson for his part in the incident.

As the second half commenced Aspatria were not yet out of the contest but any possible fight back soon became out of reach. 

Within minutes of the restart a red card was issued to second row Matthew Atkinson, on the advice of the refereeing assistant, who reported that Atkinson had struck an opponent.  Although, no consolation to Aspatria, at the time, a video showing the incident may well clear Atkinson of blame.

Aspatria down to 13 men continued to offer resistance but as the minutes ticked by the intensity of West Leeds attacks began to exploit gaps. 

The fourth mccv try for the home side came on 55 minutes and not for the first or last time it was an accurate ‘missed man’ pass that paved the way to the score. A few minutes later they scored almost an identical try and the flood gates were now well and truly opened.

Aspatria were being outplayed but to their credit kept going.  Phil Dixon was over the line on 66 minutes but the ball was spilled in the act of scoring.

There was a bright spot on 71 minutes when Rooney posted a consolation try for the Black Reds after a rare West Leeds handling error was plundered.  Unfortunately, interspersed with these two attacks, West Leeds had scored a sixth try and in the final few minutes added two more to end the game.

Action pictures from the game, in descending order, feature Phil Dixon going close to scoring; Matthew Atkinson on the charge before his dismissal and Mark Irwin driving forward after coming on from the bench. 

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