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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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Haven terrific in defeat

HAVEN signalled that they are likely to be among the contenders for honours once again this season after a terrific performance in defeat.

They were well below their best in the first half of their previous outing against Workington Town, which came four days after a below-strength team went down at York.

But there could be no complaints at Sunday’s performance at the lavish new Leigh Sports Village.

Haven certainly got the better of the battle up front, despite being without battering ram Ryan MacDonald.

And only outstanding Leigh defence kept the hosts, who were themselves below full strength, in the contest.

Haven were pegged back in the opening moments, following three quick penalties. Luckily for the visitors, Leigh failed to take advantage, due to a series of sloppy passes.

In-form Andy Gorski produced Haven’s first break, off Carl Rudd’s pass. Ade Adebisi looked set to cross in the corner but was bundled in to touch just short of the try line.

At the other end, Haven seemed to be in trouble after Craig Benson, another to produce a strong effort, spilled a high bomb on his own line.

Much to the anger of home fans, ref Rob Hicks ruled that the ball had gone backwards, and later in the set, Derry Eilbeck set off on an impressive 30 metre gallop down the left.

The ball was moved to the right flank and Rob Jackson found Adebisi with a great pass.

Again the winger was denied, and the action moved sharply back to the left, with Haven frustratingly unable to exploit an overlap.

Haven were made to pay, as on their next set, the Centurions broke from deep and despite great work from Craig Calvert to track down the pacey Stuart Donlan, the full-back found Martin Ridyard in support. The stand-off went under the posts for a self-converted try.

The teams were very evenly-matched, and the impressive Eilbeck hit back after steaming on to Jamie Theoharous’s pass, to get his team on the scoreboard.

Haven continued to cause problems down their right side, with Rob Jackson proving a handful against his former club.

Starting of late on the subs bench has not blunted Gregg McNally’s try-scoring exploits, and the teenager had been on the pitch for only a couple of minutes when he put his side in front.

He got his hand to Rudd’s well-judged low kick behind the line, Marc Jackson’s conversion putting Haven 10-6 up.

Usually an assured handler, McNally spilled the towering re-start 10 metres from his line, setting in motion a disastrous spell for the Cumbrians.

First, Leroy Joe was sin-binned for interference in the tackle. The yellow card looked harsh as the skipper merely stood his ground.

Marc Jackson was then binned for the same offence and Haven were down to 11 men.

Their defensive line was under huge strain, and it finally cracked on 39 minutes, Kurt Haggerty, on loan from St Helens, stepping inside the cover to touch down next to the sticks. Ridyard added the extras to put Leigh 12-10 up at the break.

Remarkably, Haven started the second half the stronger, on the back of Karl Edmondson attracting a penalty for interference.

They had just returned to their full complement however when Durbin threw a dummy and dived over the whitewash on 49 minutes, Ridyard booting Leigh eight points clear.

Haven always looked capable of replying, and Taani Lavulavu used his size to bulldoze over five minutes later.

Marc Jackson added the goal and soon returned to the thick of the action, breaking the Leigh line on a great run.

When the ball went loose, McNally was on hand for his second try, with the home fans screaming for a knock-on. Jackson’s kick put Haven 22-18 up.

The hosts continued to work hard for a reply, and when Donlan was flattened by Lavulavu, the prop’s tackle was placed on report.

Haven could have put the issue beyond doubt, McNally dancing through and Kyle Amor driving hard for the sticks. But Rob Jackson was held inches short.

With six minutes left, hooker Dave McConnell seized the initiative, diving over the line off scrum-half Ian Watson’s pass, to present Ridyard with a simple conversion.

Haven pressed hard in the closing moments, Calvert skilfully chipping the defence at pace, only for Donlan to boot the ball dead with the winger just a footstep behind.

Match facts

Leigh: Donlan, Stanton, Reay, Higson, Maden, Ridyard, Watson, Hobson, McConnell, Hill, Haggerty, Taylor, Rourke. Subs: Durbin, Wingfield, Stewart, Meekin
Tries: Ridyard, Haggerty, Durbin, McConnell
Goals: Ridyard 4

Haven: Benson, Adebisi, R Jackson, Eilbeck, Calvert, Rudd, Theoharous, Lavulavu, Mattinson, Edmondson, S Miller, Gorski, Joe. Subs: McNally, M Jackson, Amor, D Miller.
Tries: Eilbeck, McNally 2, Lavulavu,
Goals: M Jackson 3

Attendance: 1,789
Referee: Rob Hicks
Star Man: Rob Jackson

If you would like to comment on the match fill in the form below.

Have your say

I love Witehaven Rugby league and i'm gutted that they were knocked out of the cup. I will be wearing a black armband on my Haven top in school for the rest of the week.

Posted by anok4u on 4 March 2009 at 16:08

I think Whitehaven’s chances were severely dented by some unfair decision making by the rugby league with regards to the York match. This effectively forced Haven to field a substantially weaker team in the previous fixture. It’s another example of the bad management that exists within the game. Haven sounded unlucky not to beat Leigh and I think Ged Stokes and his team can feel very badly done to.

Regarding your comments about a waste of tax payer’s money, Mr Wilson? Would the development of a Sports facility and village be a waste? What about if sports facilities for the public are developed alongside it? Surely with the state of the nation’s health being such a concern, a lot of money could come from government grants? These would be from the tax payers pocket admittedly, but I'd rather see a stadium in Copeland than another dome or wheel in London.

It would mean the area was able to host bigger events such as concerts. This would have a knock on effect to the local economy. If Whitehaven had a Super League club it would attract more away fans and hence money to the town.

Speculate to accumulate. Don’t you agree that it’s not just the costs of a new stadium that have to be considered but also the benefits, Financial or otherwise?

Posted by Dan Strange on 3 March 2009 at 12:33

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