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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Whitehaven refuse to bow to French firepower

Carcassonne 40 Whitehaven 30: Whitehaven warmed up for the start of the Championship season with a fine display in the south of France.

Jessie Joe Parker photo
Jessie Joe Parker

French international prop Sebastien Martins featured off the bench for Haven in their final pre-season outing and later signed for the Cumbrians.

And his running and off-loading augurs well for his coming season in England.

Haven had the ball directly from Neil Thorman’s kick-off and the home defence had to be at its best to hold them out.

However on their first set of six, the Carcassonne pack showed their strength and aggression and scored out on the left.

This was soon followed by another blockbusting run and their stand-off finished things under the posts. 10-0 after eight minutes did not look good but Jessie Joe Parker and Craig Calvert combined for the winger to score down the Haven left and Thorman converted.

Carcassonne dominated the rest of the first half and ran in three tries, all of which were converted. Then Haven hooker Carl Sice stepped in, as he has so often in the past, scored a fine try and half-time saw a scoreline of 28-12 in favour of the French.

Whatever Haven coach Dave Woods said during the break had an immediate effect as the brilliant Parker strode through the French defence to score with Thorman adding the extras.

Haven used all nine of their substitutes and one of them, Shane Ackerley, broke superbly to put his side on the front foot.

But Kiwi Vinnie Anderson, the ex-Warrington Wolves forward, exploited gaps in the Haven defence to run in a couple of tries and with half an hour to go the visitors could have capitulated.

Nothing of the sort - Parker and Sice added further tries and Cain Southernwood kicked superbly to give the scoreline some respectability.

Make no mistake – this Carcassonne side is an excellent team.

They are reigning champions and cup holders. They are also half-way through their domestic competition and Haven did exceptionally well to score five tries against a tight defence.

Anyone who thought a trip to the South of France would amount to warm weather training was sorely disappointed, however.

Sunshine made an appearance sporadically but it was certainly nippy – however, no snow.

The Carcassonne officials had been there to meet the Haven squad at the airport and present thereafter to meet any need – training facilities, meet the local press or arrange a swimming pool at short notice – nothing was a problem.

The officials on both sides got on very well and it augurs well for co-operation in the future.

The whole French experience has led to close ties between the two clubs and since their season ends fairly soon there could yet be more than one French accent being heard at the Recre.

Whitehaven: Neil Thorman, Chris Fleming, Jessie Joe Parker, James Cameron, Craig Calvert, Lee Paterson, Cain Southernwood, Paul Jackson, Chris Smith, Paul Cullnean, Lee Doran, Bradd Crellin, Rhys Clarke. Subs: Scott McAvoy, Carl Sice, Dave Houghton, Matty Palmer, Danny Barker, Martyn Wilson, Shane Ackerley, Sebastien Martins, Stephen Fox

Tries: Parker (43, 57), Sice (40, 62), Calvert (13)

Goals: Thorman 3, Southernwood 2

Carcassonne tries: Theresin (4, 51), Aitken (8), Poching (20), Guiraud (30), Anderson (35, 47)

Goals: Guiraud 6

Referee: M Vincent

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