CUP TRIUMPH IS ICING ON CAKE OF A MEMORABLE SEASON
PENRITH’S victory in the Thwaites Bitter Cumbria Cup was the perfect finale to a rollercoaster season which, after an indifferent start, has also seen them promoted to the highest level in the club’s history.
A one-point victory in a dour battle with Workington Zebras at Carlisle brought the Cumbria Cup to Winters Park for the first time since 1960.
Penrith’s triumph was a bitter pill for the West Cumbrians to swallow. Shouted on by the majority of the 1,000-strong crowd, the Zebras, who this season have a 100 per cent. record in the league below Penrith, but have not been promoted, were confident of ending the season on a high.
However, a committed, hard-working performance by Penrith in wet conditions which made handling difficult reaped the ultimate reward. All their points came from the boot of fly half Simon Veitch who, as it turned out, had done enough to secure the win by the time he hobbled off midway through the second half with a thigh strain.
Penrith coach Nigel Beaty believed the weather did affect the game and probably favoured his side.
“I don’t think people realised how wet the ball was. Neither team could string more than three passes together, but I think the conditions suited us better because their backs were slightly stronger.
“As the game went on I was more and more confident of our commitment and physical and mental strength, which have been built up since Christmas with so many crucial matches.
“Our decision making was better than theirs and we got stronger as the match went on, keeping the game on their line for the last 20 minutes. The commitment of the whole team was excellent,” said Beaty.
When the left-footed Veitch was forced to leave the field, having been successful with four out of five kicks, centre Stuart Knubley took over at fly half and did a fine job, said the coach.
“When Simon went off we had a lot of scrummages and from the scrum it is better to have a right-footed kicker, and Stuart did a fine job.
“Crucial areas of the game were the scrummage, where we stood up to them, and in the back row where Glen Murray, Tim Shepherd and Kevin Walker outplayed the Workington back row in defence and attack. Their fly half and centre are strong, but our midfield defence of Veitch, Phil Watson and Knubley was excellent,” said Beaty.
Murray’s efforts earned him the man of the match trophy.
Beaty also believed that the Zebras were over-confident and played into Penrith’s hands to some extent.
“We had done a lot of homework on Workington and they played as we expected. I had them videoed a couple of weeks ago and we had a lot of information,” he added.
He thanked all the Penrith supporters who attended the game, saying their encouragement helped the players.
“The Penrith support was excellent and much appreciated. Although Workington’s supporters filled the stand, we could hear the Penrith supporters who stood out in the rain and it did help us,” he said.
After the match Beaty said his players did not seem to realise what they had achieved. “They were almost a little bit flat and it was not until other people started to speak to them that it sunk in. We had a big party at the club and people were there who had been involved when Penrith last won the cup 40 years ago. It made it all quite emotional.”
Turning to the future, Beaty said meetings are planned at Winters Park to discuss next season, in which Penrith will play in North 2 West and will need more players.
“We need to recruit people to increase the size of the squad as we will be playing more league games,” he said.