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Friday, 19 September 2014

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Late penalty hands South Wales victory against plucky Workington Town

South Wales Scorpions 22 Workington Town 20: Workington Town played their part in the launch of a new professional club in south Wales but a disjointed display prevented the west Cumbrians from spoiling their hosts’ party.

Workington Town action photo
James Finch

The sting in the Scorpions’ tail proved to be a penalty four minutes from the end which edged them back in front after being pegged back by a resurgent Town.

A disappointing first-half performance from Workington was the main cause of their downfall and when they conceded a further try to go 20-0 behind soon after the restart it looked all over for Town.

But that sparked a positive and effective response from the Cumbrians and the gradually clawed their way back into the contest, scoring four good tries to gain parity.

Then after both Scott Kaighan and Lloyd White had been wide with drop goal attempts in an end-to-end finish, the Welshmen were awarded a crucial penalty by referee Warren Turley and White’s angled 20-yarder was the deciding score.

This was the definitive game of two halves with Workington continually making handling errors in the first-half. Whenever they got into a decent attacking position the ball seemed to go to ground. The tackling wasn’t good either, and one of the Scorpions’ three first-half tries was the equivalent of a football own goal

Town had started well enough, looking sharp and keen to stamp their authority on the game. Liam Finch put in a grubber to round off an early set which Craig Richards managed to gather had o run the ball over the dead-ball line for a drop-out.

Unfortunately Town’s first fumble of the game gave possession back to the Scorpions and they scored the opening try on here minutes.

Home skipper broke through some weak tackling just over half-way and found himself in acres of space before finishing-off with a final burst to the line. White's conversion hit the post, the first of three efforts to strike the upright.

It could soon have been worse for Town when Anthony Blackwood put in Craig Richards at the corner but full-back Brett Carter did tremendously well to get across and push the home winger into touch.

The Scorpions pressure was intense and it was Mike Backhouse who produced the next try-saving tackle on White two metres from the line before massed ranks of Town defenders held-up Ben Flower.

On 26 minutes the pressure finally told when Loz Wildbore, the only Englishman in the Scorpions’ ranks, provided busy Steve Parry the chance to nip over from close range. Again White’s conversion hit the post.

The Scorpions third try on 31 minutes was an absolute disaster for Town. Mike Whitehead threw out an unnecessary pass deep in his own half; Liam Finch couldn’t tidy up and eventually Lee Williams went in under the posts for White to land his first conversion.

Two minutes before the break White kicked a penalty and the 16-0 interval score-line might have been doubled if the Scorpions had taken all their chances.

Six minutes after the restart Workington were in disarray again as Williams followed-up Wildbore’s little stabbed kicked and touched down for the fourth try but again White’s conversion effort came back off the post,.

But that set-back at last seemed to stir Town and they came back to take the game to the Scorpions, adding some intensity to their play which finally had the Scorpions working hard in defence.

The first break-through came on 50 minutes when Paddy Coupar made a strong burst and had support from centre Aaron Low who finished off well, running round near the posts for Scott Kaighan to convert.

Six minutes later they scored again, moving the ball with purpose, accuracy and a crispness which had deserted them in the first-half. Neil Frazer took the final pass to go over near the corner. Kaighan did well to add a touchline conversion.

Liam Finch produced a 40-20 to set-up another good attacking position and there was a togetherness about Town reminiscent of the Whitehaven game which had the Scorpions back-tracking regularly for the first time in the game.

It was the South Wales side who were starting to make mistakes now and when they were awarded a penalty on the home 20 metre line Town made them pay as eventually Jamie Marshall burrowed over for a try. Crucially in the final reckoning Kaighan’s conversion effort was a flapper which went wide.

More superb handling along the line by Town on 66 minutes got them level. It zipped from right to left with Andrew Beattie finally powering away to get the score wide-out – unfortunately out of Kaighan’s range for the conversion.

It was nip and tuck now. Kaighan fired wide with a drop goal attempt from very close range and White screwed an attempt just past the upright at the other end.

Then, with time running out, Scorpions were awarded the penalty which decided the contest. The odds would have been against White striking the woodwork for a fourth time. This time he was deadly accurate, his kick flying straight between the posts for the winning score.

It will be interesting to see how the Scorpions compete this year. On the evidence of what they showed in the first-half, and given their ability to pull in players from the Crusaders as they did on Sunday, then they will upset quite a few teams.

Town: Carter, Backhouse, Beattie, Low, Frazer, L. Finch, Kaighan, McGoff, Pedley, Dutton, Whitehead, Stack, Coupar. Subs (all used) Marshall, Bragg, J. Finch, Robinson.

Scorpions: Gay, Richards, Blackwood, Williams, Bateman, White, Wildbore, J. James, Owens, Dudson, Flower, Mills, A. James. Subs (all used) Parry, Roets, Dallimore, Phillips.

Referee: Warren Turley

Crowd: 565

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