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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Workington Zebras make good use of possession

WORKINGTON Zebras got the better of Eccles 27-20 in a very good North Lancs Cumbria game at the Ellis Sports Ground.

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BREAK: Zebras’ Martin Armstrong (red) dashes through the Eccles defence. More photographs from this game can be viewed at www.timesandstar.co.uk

Although Eccles dominated the ball, with their well-organised pack providing a solid base, the Zebras looked more dangerous and were more effective with their possession.

The opening try came on seven minutes when Dion Seath made a telling break between the respective 22s. Winger Chris Davidson took over and went round his man before cutting in to score behind the posts. Kevin Harper converted.

Eccles drew level on 15 minutes after their forwards took the ball to the line and worked an opening for prop Mark Greenhow to score. Danny Nicholls converted.

A Harper penalty on 17 minutes restored the Workington lead and then a great burst from Martin Armstrong created their second try for Seath, which Harper converted.

When player-coach Dan Bowman was sin-binned for allegedly handling on the floor, Nicholls kicked a penalty for Eccles.

Workington’s seven-point half-time advantage was increased nine minutes after the restart by a Harper penalty and it looked all over when Armstrong scored a super individual try on 53 minutes, with Harper again converting.

But Eccles edged their way back into the game with a penalty by Nicholls and then, 10 minutes from time, Greenhow crossed for a second try. Nicholls converted.

Wigton, leaders in the North Lancs Cumbria, wore down Keswick in the second half to win 23-8.

The game had to be played on the third team pitch which cut-up very badly and had become a mud-bath by the closing stages.

It was the Wigton pack who took control as the Greens’ maintained their place at the top.

Keswick had territorial advantage in the first 20 minutes as they were winning the kicking game and took the lead with a John Hine penalty.

And from another penalty Hine, when he might be expected to kick for three points, took a quick tap and dashed over for a try.

The second half however was dominated by Wigton and though Keswick played with great spirit throughout and competed ferociously it was all to no avail.

Netherhall travelled to St Benedict’s without seven first teamers and with only 14 players. Despite this, they kept the score down to 25-0.

The home side scored two tries in the first half and after the break Netherhall pressed them hard with Johnathan Burnyeat coming the closest to scoring for Netherhall.

Elsewhere in North Lancs Cumbria Upper Eden lost 15-9 at Aldwinians, Fleetwood won 15-3 at Burnley, Heaton Moor beat Oldham 35-3, and Kirkby Lonsdale v Furness was abandoned after 25 minutes with the score at 6-0.

Aspatria went into their home game with Sandbach in North One West needing a precious victory to ease relegation fears.

Coach Mark Richardson, knowing that heavy rain had softened the pitch, brought heavyweight scrum half Heinie Jonker back to his favoured position and experimented with Jack Clegg at fly-half.

Both moves paid off but a win would elude the Black Reds as they lost again, going down 29-22.

Straight from the kick-off, Sandbach launched a series of attacks on the Aspatria line but it was Aspatria who opened the scoring.

Steven Stoddart sent a mighty kick to touch on the visitors’ 22. Aspatria stole the ball at the line-out and Jonker ran down the blind-side for an unconverted try in the corner.

Aspatria now had the upper hand and continued to press through pack power. There were excellent runs from No8 David Humes and his fellow back rowers, Mark Beverley and Jacques Rowe. The pressure eventually told on 18 minutes when the lead was increased through a Stoddart penalty.

Regrettably, on 25 minutes the game turned. The home side found themselves a man down as Adam Birkett made his way to the bin and from the penalty Sandbach took three points.

With a man short the Aspatria scrum suffered and Sandbach found possession easy to come by. As the first half closed the visitors began to dominate play and it was no surprise when they scored on 35 minutes.

The Aspatria defence was eventually outflanked for an unconverted try.

And before the break they added a penalty and another try to lead 16-8 at the interval.

A Jonker try converted by Stoddart brought Aspatria to just one point behind but Sandbach then converted two penalties and then added a converted try.

The game was just about over but the Black Reds finished with a flourish. With a minute remaining, Clegg chipped a ball over the defence, centre Ricky Holliday read the situation well, ran onto the ball and crashed over the line to provide the final score.

Whitehaven had to work exceptionally hard at Millom to maintain their 100 per cent record in the Cumbria League.

Despite being starved of possession and living off scraps Whitehaven came away with a 20-6 victory.

Egremont played their first game for a month thanks to the welcome use of the Copeland Stadium at Hensingham and beat Aspatria Eagles 48-7.

The Egremont pitch and clubhouse have been waterlogged and finally flooded with much resulting damage. (See story on page 30 about support from RFU for flood-hit clubs.)

Egremont blasted the Eagles during the first half racking up 38 points without reply.

The second half was more even and Aspatria were able to score a try through Lee Holliday which he also converted.

Wigton Wanderers scored their third successive victory when they traveled to Gosforth Greengarth and came away with a 10-0 victory.

Creighton v Cockermouth and Moresby v Workington Steelers were both postponed.

Fixtures - North One West: Tyldesley v Aspatria.

North Lancs Cumbria: Furness v Workington, Netherhall v Kirkby Lonsdale, Upper Eden v Keswick, Wigton v St Benedict’s.

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

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