Kirkby Lonsdale U16s 36 – Carlisle 14

On a glorious sunny day Kirkby lads were against Carlisle at home for a first round Cumbria county cup match. Conditions were perfect, a still air 7C with soft ground for the players, but with a mud bath area for spectators watching at the edge of the pitch where water had collected. Two seasons ago was the last time we played Carlisle in a cup game, which we won 21 to 14 after having been down 14 to nil at half time. With all players aware of the history of this last cup match the game started at an intense pace with Carlisle clearly eager to score first.

Through a number of phases Kirkby steadily carried the ball into Carlisle’s 22 and when some five metres out Xavier picked up the ball from the ruck and charged over the line to score the first try. 5 to nil after 10 minutes of play. Kirkby upped their game further and continued to have the best of possession and territory, winning a scrum around Carlisle’s 22. Carlisle forwards are a strong pack and were able to drive Kirkby back at a number of the scrums, but fortunately in the battle of the scrums Kirkby held strong in the crucial scrums. With Tom having gone off with an ankle injury, after some superb carries, Xavier was moved from second row to cover for Tom at number 8. For this turning point scrum Kirkby held their ground and hooked the ball quickly back to Xavier who picked up the ball and ran down the right wing bulldozing away a defender to score in the corner, 10 –nil.

From the restart Kirkby once again steadily moved upwards as a pack and with the ball moving well were soon camped again deep in Carlisle’s half. Xavier received the ball around 25 metres out and ran through the middle of the Carlisle pack handing off and side stepping players, the last attempted tackle caused him to almost lose his balance but he regathered his step and ran the ball close to the posts. Will converted the try making the score 17 to nil.

Carlisle responded well to the disappointment of falling behind and raised their game superbly to push deep into our half. With a well-placed kick and chase they overwhelmed the Kirkby receiver of the high ball to win possession around our 22 line. Following a number of hard fought pick and goes Carlisle eventually ran a try close to the posts to make the score 17 to 7.

At the whistle blow for half time the score remained 17 to 7. At half time the Carlisle coaches rallied their lads with encouragement reminding them that in the last cup game they were up on Kirkby by 14 points and Kirkby managed to win that cup game so they have the chance to repeat the outcome of that last encounter, especially now as momentum seemed to have shifted to Carlisle.

The match restarted for the second half with both teams desperate to score the first try and stamp their authority on the game. Carlisle were running the ball with a deep line but the quick line speed from Kirkby caused them to fumble the ball about 10 metres in their half which was quickly picked up by Sean and passed to Nathan who ran under the posts for an easy conversion to make the score 24 to 7. With Kirkby having regained momentum the game from here-on was securely in Kirkby’s hands. With Carlisle kicking the restart from the last try Kirkby straight away ran the ball into Carlisle’s half moving the ball rapidly along the centres and winger. Nathan placed a clever kick down the right wing for Daniel to run onto the ball to touch down what the crowd and referee originally thought was a try. However after checking with Kirkby’s groundsman, Sam, who was watching the match he advised the ref that the ball was touched down just on the line of the right wing of the dead zone, so try disallowed.

Kirkby maintained the pressure and once again pushed Carlisle back deep into their own half to win a scrum 5 metres out. The ball was quickly hooked back to Xavier who managed to scoop the ball into his hands as he peeled off and powered his way on the blind side to score his fourth try, 29 to 7.

Not long afterwards and with our scrum half, Lewis, tackled after carrying the ball forward Xavier picked up the ball from a ruck some 55 metres out. Xavier barged his way through Carlisle forwards and then ran full pelt down the right wing kicking his legs high to avoid attempted tackles from Carlisle’s winger and centre, scoring obligingly under the posts for Will to convert the try making the score 36 to 7.

All credit to Carlisle lads, at no stage did they show signs of giving up, indeed although they knew by now the game was lost they were eager to make their mark. From a penalty turn over Carlisle drove close to our try line forcing an attempted clearance kick which was charged down and caught by a Carlisle player to win a try in the right hand corner. The conversion was not an easy kick but Carlisle converted the try to make the score 36 to 14. A few more passages of play saw possession move back and forth until Kirkby regained possession and knowing that full time was up the ball was kicked into touch.

Xavier with 5 tries was named man of the match, and all of the lads are to be commended for a superb team effort. Carlisle are a strong team and were only contained by a massive team effort of pushing them back and playing a smart game of rugby with the ball moving wing to wing. Carlisle had two scrums in our half only 5 metres out but in both cases the Kirkby forwards held their ground to contain the scrum and when the Carlisle number 8 peeled off to charge for the line our flanker and number 9 (Ed and Lewis) quickly tackled him to the ground. Kirkby won the game by being defensively and attackingly the stronger team in working together.