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Carlisle reach final as Penrith struggle PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Carlisle Pemrith line-out.jpgCarlisle continued their remarkable season with victory in the semi-final of the Cumbria Cup.

They beat Penrith 16-3 at Warwick Road as they chase a first County Cup triumph since 1961.

Although both sides made changes from the ones which are both currently flying high in their own respective league campaigns, there was clear desire from both to make progress.

But Penrith, from the higher League, produced a well below par performance and could have no argument with the home side's progress into the final.

It was Carlisle who started the match much the brighter, dominating most of the possession in the first ten minutes, with Penrith barely able to get out of their own half.

As the Carlisle forwards were winning possession at the breakdown and starving ball from the visitors, flanker Tom Percival made a piercing run down the right to set up a ruck deep in the Penrith 22.

With quick ball distributed across the back line, winger Ben Purdham was unlucky to be bundled into touch just inches from the left corner flag. However referee Martin Denvir had spotted a Penrith player offside at the breakdown, and scrum half James Telford had an easy task of converting the resulting penalty.

Penrith started to produce their best form and Carlisle had to soak up a period of sustained attacks from the visitors.

But the visitors seemed to be going through the motions but their game lacked urgency and pace and a well motivated Carlisle side were not going to be brushed aside by simply running the ball up. Something more inventive would be required and certainly something more than just trundling the ball up at close quarters.

The home side was up to the task, with the defence resolute and effective, as it has been for most of this season.

Ryan Johnson made one of the few line breaks in the game to take play into the Carlisle half. The home side was penalised at the breakdown and the penalty was put to the corner for an attacking lineout. The Penrith pack secured the ball and drove the ball to the line but were held up and when the ball was moved to the three quarters it was spilt and the danger was over.

A clearance kick by fly half Jason Israel caused problems for Penrith who were scragged in possession with the Carlisle support arriving rapidly. Penrith were unable to get the ball away cleanly and Carlisle were given a penalty opportunity but Telford was wide.

Carlisle continued to keep the visitors pegged back and it was five minutes before the end of the half when the only try of the game was scored. Telford goal.jpg

From a long passage of play on the Penrith 22, as Carlisle stretched the visitors’ defence, centre Tom Fuller was just dragged down short of the line near the right upright.

With Telford quickly up to the breakdown, the ball was fed right to Israel who offloaded to prop Henry Furbank running a great line and he crashed through for the score. Telford converted to put Carlisle in the driving seat at half-time.

Penrith started with a bit more purpose in the second half, and with the wind at their backs sought every opportunity to utilise it.

Fly half Mike Fearon was unlucky to miss with a penalty opportunity just three minutes into the second half, from just inside the Penrith half.

Decent rugby was in very short supply but Penrith then produced their best move of the day. Josh Dowson, off the blind side wing, made the extra man and put Jamie McNaughton away. He cut through and hit the 22 before trying to find George Graham on the inside but the pass went astray.

Penrith did get a score after Graham, in the thick of things, took a quick tap penalty to try and put a bit of pace on the game but was halted well before ten metres and Fearon opted to kick for the posts where it went over to reduce the deficit.

The penalty count against Carlisle was beginning to creep up and Fearon had another opportunity three minutes later but just fell away with the kick.

MattyRoper.jpgIn fact despite being down to 14 men, it was Carlisle who increased their score on the hour mark. From a penalty just inside the Penrith half, Telford took a quick tap and made another 20 metres before Penrith dragged him down illegally.

With the posts now in range, Telford made no mistake in converting the chance to restore Carlisle’s ten point advantage.

Although Penrith had much more possession in the second half they simply were unable to breach a very resolute Carlisle defence, with very few forays into the Carlisle 22.

It would be the home side who killed-off the game, with five minutes to go as another penalty infringement by Penrith gave Telford the chance to extend the lead.

The visitors needed two converted tries but they hadn't look likely to break the shackles in the first 70 minutes and they didn't look like it in the final ten either.

A flurry of penalties produced a scrappy end to the game and it was unfortunate the tie would end with a spate of handbags as tempers boiled over in what had been up to then a very disciplined game of rugby.


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