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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Penrith cup clash gives team break from continuing league woes

With league rugby due to take a break this weekend ahead of the final scramble for promotion or to avoid relegation, locally the action is concentrated on knockout rugby.

Two games tomorrow see Penrith host Workington in the semi-final of the Cumbria Cup, while at Wigton it’s Silloth v Keswick in the Cumbria Plate final.

Penrith, in particular, will be pleased to take a break from their fight to avoid the drop, as they get the chance to concentrate on retaining the silverware they have won for the last three years.

Opponents Workington have recovered after a bad start to the season to retain their North Lancs Cumbria status but last Saturday they were crushed 86-7 by league leaders Fleetwood.

However, they took a depleted side and will have most of their missing troops back tomorrow except Sean Murphy and Robert Scott who have both suffered broken ankles in the last ten days.

Penrith went down 40-11 at Bradford and Bingley and are still very much involved in a battle with Beverley to avoid the last relegation place from National Three North.

They are on the same number of points as third from bottom Beverley, in the final relegation spot, but Penrith have the edge on points difference.

So it’s quite simple they have to better, or at least do as well as Beverley over these two games to play rugby at this level next season.

Beverley have what looks a really tough game first up at second-placed Rossendale then an eminently winnable home game against Burnage so it’s a tense situation for both teams.

In the defeat at Bradford, Jon Fell scored the Penrith try and Steven Wood kicked two penalties.

The Plate final at Lowmoor Road pits Cumbria League champions Keswick against Silloth, the team which finished third in the league.

In their two league encounters Keswick had to work hard for their victories and since they finished their fixtures haven’t been playing as much as their Plate final opponents.

The Tigers completed their Cumbria league fixtures for the season with a 25-10 win at St. Benedict’s Ravens last Saturday. They went into the game with one eye on the final by resting five regulars.

The Ravens raced into a 10-0 lead with two early tries but Silloth hit back to win with a bit to spare.

Man of the match Dan Yeoman scored two tries for Silloth while Robbie Allen also crossed.

Silloth coach Mark Orchard said: “My aim was to get through the game without any injuries and the only problem is with captain Jamie Baxter, who played a short spell off the bench before leaving the field with a shoulder injury. Our physio Colin Batey has been working hard on him this week.”

In North One West Wigton are still on course to complete their great escape although they are still in the bottom three in the last relegation place. Each has two games to play and it looks as though Broughton Park (44), Wigton (44) and Anselmians (41) will provide two of the candidates to join Aspatria in relegation.

Wigton’s destiny is still firmly in their hands and they travel to Wilmslow in a week’s time, knowing that victory will go a long way to securing their league status. They finish off at home to Leigh on April 21.

Complete dominance at the scrum had seen Wigton through to a vital 21-10 home win over second-in-the-table Northwich. Although the visitors travelled expecting to continue their play-off push with a win, it was Wigton who collected their seventh straight home win.

From the first whistle it was clear that Wigton were very much up for the fight and in the words of the visiting supporters “wanted it more”.

Gregg Smith and David Hanabury scored the Wigton tries with Smith kicking the rest of the points.

Aspatria are doomed to a quick return to North Lancs Cumbria, finishing bottom of the pile, but they did enjoy a 23-19 win at Carlisle – their first away success of the season.

The Black Reds held-off a late Carlisle onslaught to close out the game which had been a physical encounter with both teams playing high-tempo rugby.

In the early exchanges Carlisle held a marginal advantage and should have scored on the five-minute mark.

Lee Tinnion (2) and Lee Burns scored the Aspatria tries with Jack Clegg converting one and adding two penalties.

Tim Hughes scored a late try for Carlisle, which was converted by Glen Weightman, who had earlier kicked four penalties.

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