Report for 26th October 2019

Hawcoat Park (14) v Whitehaven (19)

Saturday 28th October 2019

The tough fixtures are coming thick and fast now for the maroon and whites as high flying Whitehaven visited town. The west Cumbrians are a big powerful side right across the park and inspired by the England performance in the world cup semi final they had taken in before setting off down the coast it was certainly Whitehaven who set off like a ‘house on fire’. Their bigger forwards in every position ran hard at us and they had 4/5 line out jumping options. All the pressure told and with the benefit of the first four penalty decisions we were well and truly pinned in our own 22 for the opening 15 minutes. It is difficult to hold back big lads who can off load in the tackle and as hard as we tried in defence through their forward dominance at the end of this 15 minutes Whitehaven were 0 – 14 up on the score line. At this point the diehard Hawcoat Park supporters were fearing this could be a result similar to the Southampton v Leicester football game the evening before.

Fair play to the lads in the maroon and white shirts who dug deep and through committed efforts made the remainder of the game an even contest and in all honesty in the closing stages could have gone on and nicked the game.

Centre Jason Milby set the example in the defensive department and put in some timely crunching and covering tackles throughout the game. Prop Scott Dobbie put in some strong bursts and fly half Brad Marwood although on the back foot for long spells was controlling our play taking good running and kicking options.

Mid way through the half we scored our first try although it came as Whitehaven were again attacking deep in our 22. They threw out a long pass to what looked like a try for their winger. However, Luke Harrison made use of every inch of his tall stature to jump high and intercept the ball well above his head. He then set off on a great 90 metre run showing good pace to beat the remaining cover defence and cut across the pitch to score under the posts. Brad Marwood added the conversion 7 – 14. Former captain Jason Priss came on as replacement to play his first game for quite some time due to injury and despite naturally lacking match fitness looked like he had not been away with his grafting efforts at the ‘coal face’. Despite being our only line out option Callum Ramsay was doing well on our own ball and doing well to disrupt some of the many Whitehaven options at this part of the game they had quickly picked up on as a go to dominating area. Ramsay was also putting in his usual outstanding shift in open play and setting the example for the remainder of the maroon and white pack to follow.

As half time approached Whitehaven stretched their lead. Again applying pressure up front in our 22 we did however have the opportunity to clear our line unfortunately our clearance kick did not find touch allowing the winger to run well and step through our fragmented defensive line to touch down the conversion just missed. Half time 7 – 19.

The second half was a different game and a close even contest resulting in only one Hawcoat Park try so we won the second half! The big Whitehaven pack were not controlling proceedings as our pack ‘rolled our sleeves’ with stalwarts Colin Niven and Adam Grainger giving their all well supported by second rows Jack Sutherland and Matt Robson and newcomer Scot, Andy Graham and battle hardened Lee Van Haren. Mid way through the second half we collected our second try. The pack set the platform before good hands by scrum half Will Coles and full back George Smith gave captain Chris Burns some space to show his pace and run the wide angle to touch down out wide. Smith booted over a great conversion, 14 – 19.

In the final quarter as hard as we tried we just could not break down the determined Whitehaven defence, we did not have it all our own way and the Whitehaven fly half just missed a penalty attempt to stretch their lead.

In the end Whitehaven were deserving winners but after their flying start certainly knew they had been in a game and one we could have easily snatched away through our determined efforts. Final score 14 – 19.

Unusually having two games at home those watching the first team were cheered up to hear that the seconds had beaten Fylde Vandals in the Robinsons Brewery Shield Cup. No games next week as the RFU have left the weekend blank to cheer on England in the World Cup final before a tough trip to take on league leaders Cockermouth the following week.

John Horne
Hawcoat Rugby Union

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