Cockermouth (26) v Hawcoat Park (5)
Saturday 9th November, 2019
Once again it was a much changed maroon and whites who made the difficult trip to picturesque Cockermouth to take on the unbeaten league leaders. From the start it was clear why Cockermouth top the league they were a well drilled young big mobile side who ran strongly. That said our lads showed a real determination to match them in all aspects our defence was strong across the pack and the pack were taking it in hand. As the game developed it became clear to all with limited jumping options we were going to struggle at line outs and lacking bulk we were going to be on the back foot at scrum time. A game plan of trying to go through phases up front and spread the ball through hands in the backs in an attempt to minimise line outs and scrums was hatched. This certainly worked fly half George Smith and inside centre Will Coles did a George Ford and Owen Farrell impression and with Lewis Sayle coming into the line at pace all three were making good yards when running the ball. The Cockermouth defence was also well organised and strong and the early exchanges were even.
Fifteen minutes in it was Cockermouth who scored first but their try came from an attack we were mounting in their half. The ball went to ground and their back row quickly snapped up the ball and went on a 60 metre run and looked certain to score. Winger Jack Lord did really well to track across from his opposite wing to make a last ditch tackle to prevent the try. However, from the resulting pressure the Cockermouth winger took a quick tap from a penalty to force his way over. The impressive Cockermouth fly half converted 7 – 0. The remainder of the half followed a similar pattern whilst Cockermouth were on top we were showing good commitment and getting stuck in. The second try came after 30 minutes they pinned us in our own 22 and whilst we managed to keep them out in open play it was an eventual scrum that was our downfall when a dominant scrum created a push over try near our posts. 14 – 0.
Right on the half time whistle Cockermouth stretched their lead it came from a messy line out on our throw in this was an area we were increasingly struggling against the bigger Cockermouth pack. They applied pressure up front before a forward drive close to the line proved impossible to stop. The try was again converted. Half time 21 – 0.
Early in the second half Cockermouth scored their 4th bonus point try and it was a real team handling effort pleasing on the home supporters eyes. After an initial burst from inside their own half good support play and off loading in the tackle allowed their strong running centre to score the conversion just fell short from wide out 26 – 0.
At this point there was a real fear from the hard core maroon and white followers that the score board would really tick round for the remainder of the game. The exact opposite occurred as we dominated territorial advantage for the remainder of the game.
The back row of Alfie White, Grady Slater and Josh Vial were outstanding throughout the game never taking a backward step when driving the ball in. They were well supported by the second row paid of industrious Jack Sutherland and newcomer Andy Graham.
We applied some real pressure going close to scoring on regular occasions but certainly giving the Cockermouth defence a good test. Just when it looked like all our effort was not going to create a score we managed a well deserved consolation try and what a good one it was. After going through at least 20 phases of ball retention both props Andy Kent and John Donnan made the last drives before the ball was worked blind for outstanding No 8 Alfie White to crash through three would be tacklers to touch down in the corner.
I am going to name the full team who travelled below as each and everyone handled the ball in the phases building up to our try and each and everyone can be proud of their commitment and efforts in the maroon and white shirt in difficult circumstances:
L Sayle, B Platt, W Coles, C Burns, J Lord, G Smith, J Shannon, A Kent, J Rea, J Donnan, A Graham, J Sutherland, J Vial, A White, G Slater, replacement H Higgins.
A special mention to Joe Rea who bravely put his hand up to play out of position and had a great game.
Well done to Cockermouth they are a good side and deserved to win, thanks for their welcome and kind hospitality whilst guests at their club.
We at least won something when Man of the Match Alfie White won the drink off contest.
Also a final mention to referee Martin Denvir whose control of the game meant this was a competitive hard but fair game to watch.
John Horne, Hawcoat Rugby Union