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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Controversy at the death as west Cumbria derby ends in draw

Workington Town 30 Whitehaven 30: A controversial refereeing decision ensured the first league derby for some time between Workington Town and Whitehaven ended in stalemate.

Paul Cullnean photo
Whitehaven’s Paul Cullnean

Whitehaven had led the game for the majority of the clash after a sensational start that saw them rack up 16 early points but Town battled back to level at 24-24.

Then the home side took the lead for the first time when Jack Pedley raced on to the ball to slice over the line and the returning Darren Holt added his fifth conversion of the afternoon.

But, with less than five minutes remaining, Haven broke downfield and the referee was pushed to the floor in the herd of bodies.

Home fans were calling for both a forward pass and a knock-on as Haven continued to the try line and Paul Cullnean crashed over.

But the ref controversially picked himself up and ran to the try line to award the points, much to the disgust of the home faithful and the coaching staff.

In the end 30-30 was probably a fair result, with both sides giving their all in soaring temperatures and the 1,592-strong crowd were treated to a fantastic, full-blooded west Cumbrian derby.

However, in the opening minutes it looked like Whitehaven were going to run away with it.

They came out firing on all cylinders and Town were just firing blanks as the visitors ripped them apart.

Chris Smith was held up in the opening moments and then, with just four minutes on the clock, they got their first points.

Tyrone Dalton put in a neat grubber kick which ricocheted off several sets of legs before finding the hands of Craig Benson who scooped it up to touch down, with Lewis Palfrey converting.

Max Wiper then knocked on in a promising position before Dalton himself got on the scoresheet.

He ran on to the ball with pace and picked the perfect angle to charge through but Palfrey was just off target with the extras.

Haven continued to impress and a great break downfield from Lee Doran set them off for their third after 16 minutes, Palfrey carried on and then Chris Fleming was there to finish off a superb try in the corner, with Palfrey adding the extras for 0-16.

This seemed to finally wake Workington up and they began to attack the Haven try line but a final pass from Carter went to the feet of winger Neil Frazer.

Haven were reduced to 12 men when half-back Dalton was sent to the sin bin for taking out the kicker after the ball had left him.

And Town had their best spell of the game, taking every advantage of their extra man. John Patrick was on the receiving end of some good play across the Town line and he went over in the corner, Holt adding the extras from the touchline.

And two minutes later the strong running centre was in again. Karl Olstrum broke through before the ball was whipped out to Holt and he put in a little kick through the crowd and Patrick picked up on it to score his second, Holt again on target to bring Town back to 12-16 and it stayed that way until half time.

The second half saw a near repeat performance as Haven came out and took the game right to Town.

Lee Doran caused Town problems all day and he wrested the ball from Brett Carter and raced away to score a fine individual try.

Town’s indiscipline began to cost them as they gave away another silly penalty which allowed Max Wiper to go over for Haven but Palfrey was out again with the extras, which would cost his side.

Haven were beginning to really get on top of Town and if it was not for a superb track back and tackle from Neil Frazer, the game could have had a different look.

Scott McAvoy broke away in front of the popular side crowd and looked set to score but Frazer raced after him and caught him 10-yards short of the try line.

Frazer then wrapped up Craig Calvert as he tried to continue the move, which could have killed off the game for the home side.

Marc Jackson was put on report for an altercation with Haven winger Chris Fleming which was the only real moment to mar the match.

Graeme Mattinson’s defensive skills were called into action when he halted what looked to be a certain Chris Smith try, with the aid of Carter.

And then came the turning point in Town’s eyes. Darren Holt put in a superb drop-out that went the length of the field and Paul Cullnean could not keep it in play.

Town had the field position and they made it count as Carter got the ball out to the supporting Frazer on the wing and he sliced through the defence to go over, Holt converting.

Scott Kaighan then showed off his skill with the boot, putting in a lovely 40/20 to get Town back down in the danger zone.

And this time the little half back finished it off himself, Pedley had gone close to scoring and then Kaighan ran on to the ball and twisted over the line near the posts, leaving Holt an easy two-pointer to level at 24-24.

Holt then landed a 40-20 of his own and Jarrad Stack went close before Pedley crashed over and Holt again converted for 30-24.

Play swung to the opposite end of the ground as Haven put in a short kick off to try and get back in the game.

Dexter Miller got over the line but he was pulled back for a forward pass and then came the main talking point of the game.

Paul Cullnean got the try for Haven as the referee got back to his feet and Palfrey converted and the score stood at 30-apiece.

Holt had one last attempt at a drop-goal that went just wide of the posts but in the end the honours were even, points were shared and both sides will have to pick themselves up for tough games on Easter Monday.

Workington Town: Carter, Low, Mossop, Patrick, Frazer, Holt, Kaighan, Jackson, Mattinson, Coward, Whitehead, Stack, Olstrum. Subs (all used): Pedley, Shackley, MacDonald, Tunstall.

Tries: Patrick 25, 27, Frazer 64, Kaighan 67, Pedley 70; Goals: Holt 5/5.

Whitehaven: Benson, Fleming, Wiper, McAvoy, Calvert, Palfrey, Dalton, Cullnean, Smith, Isakka, S Miller, Doran, Beattie. Subs (all used): Sice, Hill, Ford, D Miller.

Tries: Benson 4, Dalton 10, Fleming 16, Doran 43, Wiper 52, Smith 75; Goals: Palfrey 3/6.

Half time: 12-16.

Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow (St Helens).

Attendance: 1,592.

Star Man: Town – Jason Mossop; Haven – Lee Doran.

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