Sunday, 07 February 2016

Furness hit back to earn win over Carlisle

A DETERMINED second-half fight-back earned Furness victory in a hard-fought clash with Carlisle Crusaders at The Strawberry Grounds.

A bright, frosty afternoon greeted both sides as battle commenced, but there was no denying the fact that the grassy pitch was certainly taking a stud.

Carlisle won the toss and opted to play away from the clubhouse. From the start there were signs that the visitors were a useful outfit containing some talented individuals, and it was their mobile pack who dictated the first 20 minutes.

Furness started as though they had travelled on the bus with their opponents as mistake after mistake had the home faithful groaning with frustration.

Dropped passes, knock-ons and wrong options were commonplace and Furness were punished for their indiscretions as the referee awarded Carlisle three penalties in quick succession, which were confidently slotted over by the talented stand-off.

A few stern works on the field seemed to wake Furness up and they began to compete. A midfield steal by Corne Els on 22 minutes allowed Dries Venter to crash through the gain line and slip the ball to Andrew Brannon.

He in turn drew his man and offloaded to Joel Thomas. A step and a well-timed hand off saw Thomas dive over in the clubhouse corner, much to the relief of the healthy crowd. Sam Dutton slotted over the conversion and Furness were back in the game at 9-7 down.

The tempo moved up a couple of gears and it was Furness who were on top.

Driving hard at the Carlisle defence, Rhys Studt proved a handful and his two regular back-row partners, Will Mallinson and Scott Hadwin, both played their part in forcing Carlisle on to the back foot.

The constant pressure resulted in Carlisle giving away numerous penalties and Dutton was unlucky to hit the uprights on two occasions. A change of tactics saw Furness now kick to the corners in the hope of a catch and drive, but again the resilient Carlisle defence stood their ground and, assisted by some basic handling errors from Furness, saw the half-time score remain at 9-7.

As the sun began to set and the temperature dropped it was the Furness pack who warmed the hearts of the blue and pink followers with some early pressure.

Ethan Guy was coping well with the tricky light conditions and wingers Charlie Martin and Joel Thomas tackled well when called into action and eagerly supported Guy when he ran the ball out of defence from deep.

On 43 minutes another Furness penalty sailed wide and two minutes later the ball was lost over the line as Furness skipper Els drove, this time too hard.

With their hands on the ball Furness started to put some phases together and a break from veteran coach Gary Pritchard released Scott Hadwin, who charged for the line.

A last-ditch tackle from the Carlisle full-back saved the day and the number 15 drew applause from the home crowd with another identical stop three minutes later in a carbon copy of Hadwin’s first attempt. Eventually the pressure had to take its toll and on 54 minutes it was Venter who crashed over from five metres to make it 12-9.

Furness can be their own enemy at times and this proved to be the case straight from restart, with a basic error allowing the resulting penalty to even the scores at 12-12 with 25 minutes to go.

Carlisle were not for backing down and to their credit they made Furness work hard to make ground.

A successful penalty from Dutton edged Furness in front 15-12 on the hour. An injury to Adam Pearce saw Cam McClure enter the fray and he was in for a tough 20 minutes, but stuck to the task in the front row. Neither side was backing down and, despite the chill, the temperature among the players was raised as a disagreement involving about 20 participants helped warm their hands.

The result saw Furness playing the last eight minutes without the sin-binned Venter.

The hastily-rearranged pack hung on and weathered the Carlisle storm until in the final whistle blew.

Furness gratefully accepted the winning points and will go away from the game knowing that they need to be more clinical when in opposition territory and more consistent over the full 80 minutes.

The Carlisle full-back deservedly took the Furness vote for man-of-the-match for his two last-ditch, try-saving tackles on Hadwin.

League leaders Hawcoat Park’s game at Kirkby Lonsdale was called off due to a frozen pitch, as was Millom’s match at home to Netherhall, while Windermere lost 26-10 at home to Kendal 2nds.

Have your say

Unfortunately I am unable to play now as I have committed to another year at the raiders. I just wanted to say what a pleasure it was playing with these lads each week! There are some cracking players there, namely Charlie Martin on the wing who could easily take my shirt on the wing for the raiders, hes a real powerhouse. Also, Ethan Guy who is electric from fullback and is an excellent goal kicker too! And last but by no means least is Scott Hadwin, who is tough as teak - I wouldn't like to meet him in a dark alley thats for sure!!

Anyway, I'm rabbling, best of luck for the end of the season guys, dont let our nearest and dearest get away and go unbeaten!! We CAN do it!!


Posted by Mike Backhouse on 4 December 2012 at 14:47

Tremendous game on Saturday. Well done boys, made me proud to know I have nurtured many of you as junior blues. Brocky was immense, for a lad who should be prop, he put a real shift in at stand off. Young Andrew Brannon was classy, slick and silky passing and the time he spent with mark harper really shows. I was disappointed not to see the introduction of Arron pike though, rumour has it he is carrying an ankle knock from training with the raiders last week. Onwards and upwards boys. Smithy

Posted by Tony smith on 3 December 2012 at 19:31

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