Breeze for Cumbria, but tough test in store at Winters Park
CUMBRIA breezed through their first game of the County Championship Shield against a pretty poor Notts, Lincs and Derby (NLD) side, scoring 12 unanswered tries.
Tougher tests lie ahead, starting when they face Leicestershire at Penrith today (3pm kick-off). Leicestershire beat NLD 81-3. The winner of the clash at Winters Park will move into the semi-final one game away from a Twickenham final.
The writing was on the wall from the off on Saturday. Cumbria kicked off and NLD made to run the ball out their own 22. After several phases, one of the their forwards ran into Richard Harryman and was stripped of the ball.
Harryman charged for the line and was stopped just short. When the ball was moved down the narrow side Penrith’s Gary Hodgson was on hand to make the scoring pass and Andrew Miller had the easiest of run-ins.
On four minutes Cumbria extended their lead. A charge-down in the NLD 22 gifted Cumbria the ball and when the ball came wide on the right the excellent Neil Warnock (Penrith) put Miller into space again and he had two tries in as many minutes.
Cumbria were playing with a strong breeze at their backs and NLD’s only serious attempt at a score came next, but the penalty shot from the 10-metre line was always destined to fall short.
The home side then scored tries at regular intervals through the first half. Martin Armstrong, running back into traffic on the angle, cut clean through and unselfishly gave Warnock a try on a plate. Alistair Ledingham made the break for the next try. He was brought to ground on the 22, but Greg Smith was up in support to carry the move on and Hodgson was on his shoulder to take the scoring pass.
Warnock was the catalyst for the next try, making a searing clean break to put Miller in for his hat-trick try. Scrum half Ben Walker was next in on the act with a snipe down the side of the ruck on the visitors’ line for a neat try. Warnock was again involved in the final try of the half, winning turnover ball in the tackle. A bit of class from Armstrong and good support play by Hodgson put Smith in the clear for the seventh try. Ledingham had converted all but one of them for a 47-0 scoreline at the break.
The second half started as the first had finished. The Cumbrian set scrum wheeled on its own 10- metre line and Walker shot off down the short side, stepped the winger on the outside and made it all the way to the line.
With the wind at their backs NLD were now able to spend some time in the home half, but they came up against a solid Cumbrian rearguard that was not for offering up anything in the way of consolation points.
Cumbria struck again from deep in their own half. Centres Armstrong and Warnock again provided the inspiration and this time full back Smith was the benefactor and scored his second try.
Armstrong himself touched down for the next try after some good teamwork from both forwards and backs, and Smith scored another in similar style.
With 20 minutes to go and the lead at 71-0 a real trouncing looked on the cards, but NLD stuck to their task, Cumbria put on their replacements and the game rather lost its shape and drifted to a close.
The home side did manage one more score when John Story galloped in from halfway.
The serious stuff starts today, but you cannot do any more than beat the side that is put in front of you and Cumbria did that in some style.
Cumbria: Richard Harryman, Kendal; Ian McDowell, Penrith; Billy Coxon, Kendal; Ryan Feeney, Carlisle; Reece Tomlinson, Kendal; Gary Hodgson, Penrith; Tom Lindsay, Aspatria; Ryan Johnson, Penrith; Ben Walker, Kirkby Lonsdale; Alistair Ledingham, Wigton; Andrew Miller, Aspatria; Neil Warnock, Penrith; Martin Armstrong, Workington; Paul Lancaster, Carlisle; Greg Smith, Wigton. Replacements: James Thornton, Penrith; John Story, Wigton; Phil Dixon, Aspatria; Andries Venter, Furness; Mike Fearon, Workington; Fergus Ledingham, Wigton; Kurt Maudling, Carlisle.