St Benedicts (36) v Hawcoat Park (20)
Saturday 30th March, 2019
With so many unavailable for varying reasons for this re arranged fixture on a previous blank weekend a patched up bare 15 players first team squad comprising predominantly young A Team regulars made their way up the coast to Whitehaven. As it turned out each and everyone could not have shown anymore commitment playing to their full ability as they ran the ball at every opportunity to produce a most enjoyable game for all watching and more importantly for themselves at this grass root level.
With four props in the pack and no replacements to allow a break it was hard graft for all 15 players for the full 80 minutes but the level of the teams performance working for each other as a collective unit made it a most enjoyable close game which was controlled in a sensible outstanding manner by Mike Firby the hardworking Cumbria Referees Society league secretary.
Right from our kick off Bennies knocked on which allowed us to apply some early pressure in their red zone and for skipper George Smith to boot over a 30 metre penalty goal after 5 mins, 0 – 3.
The game continued in a free flowing manner with both teams wanting to play open rugby in a end of season affair with no bearing on league positions. Skipper Smith and inside centre Lewis Sayle in particular were outstanding causing problems right throughout the game each and every time they got their hands on the ball. From one Sayle break debutant Peter Matthews normally a back row but helping out on the wing ran hard but was just tackled at the corner flag.
Our defence also had to be strong as Bennies looked to take the lead, young Keenan Cotton another one playing out of position in the centre was regularly showing his impressive tackling technique and make shift second rows Corey Doughty and Colin Niven were also prominent.
Twenty five minutes in after a spell of Bennies pressure they scored the first try of the game.
Their forwards hammered away at our line and eventually a back row forced his way over near the corner. The conversion was missed 5 – 3.
Just before half time after good run by stand in full back Chris Burns backed up both half backs Jack Shannon and Smith it was Smith who booted over a 35 metre penalty goal to give us a 5 – 6 half time lead.
Now playing down the slope and no doubt with the Bennies coaches words ringing in their ears it was Bennies who started the second half the stronger. Adopting a more direct approach and having the benefit of replacements to freshen up the first 15 minutes was all St Benedicts. Through their strong running forwards they got on top and despite our best defensive efforts three trys followed two of which were converted and in a blink it was 24 – 6. As our fatigue set in most spectators suspected the score board to now start to quickly tick round. This was not to be the case as a team we regrouped to get ourselves back into the game. Out back row were outstanding, John Donnan normally a prop playing at No 8, young Austin Meadows not only doing a great job in the line out but grafting all game and the other Sayle brother Rory showing up so well after recently stepping up as a first team regular.
Mid way through the half we scored our fist try after good handling by Cotton and once again good running by Smith and Lewis Sayle hard working scrum half Shannon was up in support to touch down, Smith booted over a great conversion, 24 – 13.
Twenty five minutes in our second try followed. Both Paul Woodburn and Doughty ran hard to set the platform up front and it was the hardworking Rory Sayle who spotted a gap to run well to touch down, Smith again converted well, 24 – 20.
In a game that flowed both ways it was a relieved Bennies who scored next again kicking well to the corner of the pitch that slopped away they camped in our 22 before their experienced powerful second row who forced his way over wide out 29 – 20. The try came when we were down to 14 men with Niven off injured who after patching up bravely came back on.
A great run by former first team captain hooker Adam Grainger who had previously taken 3 or 4 strikes against the head nearly created a try but set the platform for a spell of pressure. The front row of Ryan Brown, Woodburn and Grainger were causing problems at scrum time and after a couple of penalties near the Bennies line a penalty try must have been close but as we attempted to once again open up play from a scrum the Bennies full back made a interception to run the remaining 80 metres to touch down for a converted try to produce a final score of 36 – 20 which was not a true reflection of what had been an even enjoyable game.
Hawcoat Rugby Union