Sunday, 14 February 2016

Furness set off to Carlisle on their own crusade

FURNESS are determined to bounce straight back from defeat at Hawcoat Park last week, with victory over Carlisle Crusaders.


The Carlisle second string come to the Strawberry Grounds to face a Blues side who were on a three-match winning run until their 17-5 reversal in the local derby (2.15pm kick-off).

Home coaches Gary Pritchard and Corne Els have been forced to ring the changes for the game due to injury and absence, but are still hopeful of claiming the points.

“We beat them up there and I would expect we would beat them at home,” said Pritchard.

“It wasn’t an easy game up there. They have quite a big, powerful pack, but they seemed to run out of steam and once we can get on top up front, we have a younger, fitter pack, I think we will be able to play some good rugby.

“With the type of rugby we play, we should have no problems, but it is getting that dominance up front that is key for us.”

The forward game for Furness will be different from last week, with several players missing.

Piers Cleaver, Kian Grace and Jack Wickes all miss out in the pack for the Blues tomorrow, while Mike Backhouse has returned to training with Barrow Raiders and will not feature in the back line again this season.

Tom Brannon tore his hamstring in the defeat to Hawcoat and will miss the rest of the campaign as well, but cousin Andy Brannon is a ready-made replacement, while either Joel Williams or Joel Thomas will also come into the three-quarters.

George Kennedy also misses out in the forwards with family commitments, with Yorkshireman Andy Shaw starting at prop, having played for the A-team last week.

The experienced duo of Arron Pike and John Doherty also come into the pack, their return to starting duties brought forward after their own injury problems.

The Blues are still capable of producing victory tomorrow even with so many changes, and Pritchard added: “We want to go all the way until Christmas now without another defeat, at the very least.

“We were disappointed we couldn’t beat Hawcoat – the results have gone their way this time, but on another day we could have had the beating of them.”

Furness A, off the back of their 16-13 win over Hawcoat A last week, travel to take on Carlisle thirds in the north of the county.

With players drafted into the first team as cover, the A-team have had to call on a number of old heads for the trip, with Ivon Allonby, Mark Hall, Paul Bridge and Cameron McClure among the squad.

Mark Ashton will start at scrum half, while the back line is almost unchanged from that which saw off Hawcoat A.

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