Fine finish to a record-breaking year
THIS was Keswick’s final match of the season and it was important that, having completed a successful league campaign and won the Cumbrian Plate knockout competition, the final league cup match was not viewed as some kind of meaningless anticlimax.
Keswick were under considerable pressure from the start, but the defence, which was well orchestrated by Matty Roper and tough tackling Brian Storey, was alive to Silloth’s close thrusts and only briefly looked threatened in wider positions.
A missed penalty signalled the end of Silloth’s bright opening and Keswick began to clear their lines more efficiently. They may have wanted to finish the season in style but during a wet spell when passing was difficult, a more pragmatic approach might have been more appropriate.
After a scrappy 23-minute stalemate Ben Bentham made the decisive carry which took play into the Silloth 22. For the first time Keswick maintained essential pressure and Storey was successful with a tricky penalty.
Silloth returned to the Keswick half and missed a second penalty but for what remained of the first half, Keswick claimed the territorial advantage.
Delayed by work commitments, Carrick Wharmby was introduced at a time when the Keswick forwards were successfully raising the pace and intensity of the game. The general improvement led to a build-up of pressure which was rewarded with a penalty, kicked by Storey, and, just before the interval, a try by Graham Marshall. Storey kicked the conversion which meant Keswick reached half-time with a 13-point lead.
The visitors were forced to replace injured prop forward James Hinkley at half-time and his absence was instantly felt when Silloth applied pressure during the early second half scrums and scored a try following a well-executed forwards rush. An excellent conversion meant Keswick no longer held a safe lead.
Keswick responded well. Having discovered his best range, stand off Harry Garner threw some accurate long passes; Jamie McKenzie and full back Andy Wallace made penetrations in the wide centre channels, but easily Keswick’s best progress was made from successive kicks angled.
The award of penalties was abundant; Storey kicked two for Keswick, re-establishing a healthy lead, but penalty concessions by Keswick in attack helped Silloth clear their lines.
With the game won and Silloth largely confined to their 22 Keswick missed some opportunities to add to their lead, but from the next penalty award on the other side of the pitch, wingman Bruce Rigby ducked under flying defenders to score Keswick’s final try of the season.
Keswick think that winning this match establishes them at the top of the Cumbria League Cup competition and that because of that they might have won another trophy. Whether or not this is the case the players are pleased to have achieved their objectives in what has been an unusual, record-breaking season.
l Keswick II ran out 91-0 victors at home to Kirkby Lonsdale B in their final Division IV North game in the NorthWest Leagues, meaning they finish in second place, just one point behind champions Southport II.
The seconds were due to play Bolton III today, but the Lancashire side have cancelled, so an internal 7s or 10s competition will be played.