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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Cockermouth can’t deny the league leaders

WHITEHAVEN are setting a hot pace at the top of the Cumbria League and raced to their ninth win in as many games on Saturday.

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CLEAN BREAK: Cockermouth's Andrew Renney takes the ball away from a scrum against Whitehaven

Their 48-0 victory at the Playground against Cockermouth took them to 437 points so far with only 61 conceded, for a hugely impressive scoring differential of plus 376.

But Cockermouth, to their credit, made it hard for the league high-fliers for an hour, particularly in the first half when Whitehaven found it difficult to break through.

Gaining inspiration from the efforts of the experienced Matthew Woodcock, operating at scrum-half, Cockermouth stayed in the game with some resolute defence.

It took a long time for Whitehaven to wear down the opposition and the opening try didn’t come until the 25th minute.

Cockermouth had competed well but conceded a second try soon afterwards and a third just before the break.

Cockermouth did have their own moments as an attacking force but against some solid Whitehaven defence couldn’t find a way through.

They continued to fight hard, with number eight Andrew Renney a leading figure, but once Whitehaven scored their fourth try early in the second-half much of the resistance faded.

One of the nicest tries of the afternoon was the seventh scored by winger Chris Flynn who took the final pass from Paul Lancaster after a flowing move. Blakely converted.

Elsewhere in the Cumbria League Egremont still hold second despite losing 19-10 to third-placed Millom.

Workington Steelers won 23-14 at Gosforth Greengarth against a home side who played most of the game with 14 men, and for a time only had 13.

Johnny Howarth kicked the Steelers ahead with an eighth-minute penalty but then the home side edged in front with an unconverted try.

A second Howarth penalty, however, gave Steelers a narrow advantage at half-time.

A high kick from Howarth caused problems in the home defence and winger Andrew Mitchell reacted well to pick-up the loose ball and go round the full-back to score an unconverted try.

Gosforth Greengarth pulled it back to 12-11 but Workington finished well and got ahead again when Tom Lawson followed-up another kick from Howarth to get the unconverted try.

Good work among the forwards by Stephen Oakes and Jamie Dunn set-up the final try for Phil Jones, which Howarth converted.

Given their season to date, Aspatria would not expect to get much change out of table-topping Lymm.

So it proved yet again as the Black Reds’ pre-match plans were hampered by player unavailability and predictably they suffered.

Lymm are worthy league leaders and they collected a 66-3 win, their eighth success in nine matches, against the Cumbrians.

The only Aspatria score coming from a Steven Stoddart penalty.

St Benedict’s produced the performance of the day in North Lancs Cumbria to win 17-9 at Aldwinians. Wigton Wigton bounced back after at Workington and won 20-11 at home over Heaton Moor.

Workington were able to follow up their fine win over leaders Wigton with an 18-12 victory at Upper Eden but it was a scrappy game.

Early on Workington conceded a number of penalties, two of which were kicked. The Zebras started to make headway and on 14 minutes they went ahead.

Making good use of the blindside they put together a smart move which ended with Martin Armstrong diving and Kevin Harper landed a fine touchline conversion into the wind.

Harper kicked a penalty on 23 minutes and before half-time there was an exchanged of penalties to leave the Zebras 13-9 ahead at the break.

Five minutes after the restart Upper Eden scored a penalty but the Workington forwards started to get on top and on 63 minutes the Zebras scored their second try.

The forwards and backs linked well and Bede O’Connor got over in the corner for an unconverted try.

Netherhall were beaten 40-7 away at Oldham but despite the scoreline were well in the game for long periods.

Their forwards bossed the scrums in the first half and were encamped in the home side’s 22 for long periods.

Despite all this pressure against them Oldham were the first to score when they counter-attacked from their own 22 and raced the full length of the pitch to score an unconverted try.

Netherhall were soon back in the home 22 when a strong run by Mark Orchard created space for the deceptively quick Ryan Robertson to race through a gap and get to within five metres of the try line.

The ball was moved wide and then dropped with the home side picking-up and once again racing the full length of the pitch to score another unconverted try.

Once again the visitors went straight back at them and good work in the loose by Dan Fisher led to Lee Towers carrying the ball well to be tackled just short again.

The home side won the loose ball but when the stand-off tried to put in a clearance kick it was charged down by Burnyeat who picked up and scored. Vickers put over the conversion.

Oldham kicked a penalty on half-time to give them a 13-7 interval lead.

The second half started the same way as the first with Netherhall camped in the home 22 and another breakaway try by the winger was this time converted.

The visitors’ heads seemed to dip and indiscipline set in as two penalties made it 26-7.

In the last 15 minutes both Oldham wingers scored a try which were converted by the centre but the final score-line did not reflect the game.

Keswick returned to winning ways after their defeat at Heaton Moor by beating Burnley 43-3.

But that was after an abysmal first-half display in which they only led 7-0 at the break.

Burnley didn’t offer much, apart from trying to slow-down the game at every opportunity, and only visited the Keswick 22 once in the whole game.

The Lakes side just couldn’t find any continuity and for an hour struggled to find their form. Then, as if a switch had been turned, they were outstanding for the final quarter of the game.

John Hine had lifted the game above the spectacularly mediocre with the only try of the first-half which he converted.

Then in the last 20 minutes Keswick ran riot, scoring six more tries, three of which were converted by Hine.

Jamie McKenzie (2), Matty Roper, Andy Wallace, Ashley Gaskell and Hine scored the tries.

Fixtures - North One West: Aspatria v New Brighton.

North Lancs Cumbria: Aldwinians v Keswick, Burnley v Wigton, Netherhall v Eccles, St Benedict’s v Furness, Workington v Fleetwood.

Cumbria: Cockermouth v Aspatria Eagles, Creighton v Wigton Wanderers, Egremont v Whitehaven, Gosforth Greengarth v Moresby, Millom v Workington Steelers.

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