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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Honour in defeat as Workington Town show their mettle

Workington Town 14 Sheffield Eagles 28: Workington Town came agonisingly close to clipping the Eagles’ wings yesterday as they ran last season’s Championship Grand Finalists close in the opening game of the Northern Rail Cup.

James Robinson photo
James Robinson

An under-strength Workington, missing around seven regular first teamers, eventually went under 28-14 at Derwent Park but they gave their all and supporters left the ground well aware of the promise blooming.

In the opening forays of the game Town stood up to be counted and led the encounter for 60 minutes before Sheffield used their size and power to tire out their hosts in the final quarter.

Workington looked as though they wanted it more, especially in the first half as they took it to their Championship opponents.

Brett Carter, in his unaccustomed role at half-back, had an inspiring performance, alongside the impressive Carl Forber.

And Town’s pack laid a great platform for their backs to use their creativity, with Jason Mossop showing plenty of flair while Neil Frazer, brought back from retirement, was strong in defence, alongside the returning Elliott Miller.

There was excitement from the off as Carl Forber put in a high kick and Neil Frazer did well to leap up and palm the ball back to Brett Carter.

He kicked it to the line and Sheffield had to scramble back and put it dead. Frazer then stepped up in defence to deny Menzie Yere a try in the corner.

Town made the breakthrough on 11 minutes when they flung the ball out to the right of the field where Carter was waiting.

He slipped a neat inside pass to Elliott who then released Jason Mossop and the centre dived over the try line in spectacular fashion, with Forber adding a great conversion from wide out.

Vinny Finigan came close to striking back for Sheffield but more good tackling from Miller and Frazer kept them at bay.

A great long ball from rookie Brett Phillips led to the next home try as great hands saw the ball back in the hands of Mossop.

The centre chipped the ball forward and won the foot race to get a second kick through before Carter tapped down the loose ball to score, Forber again converting.

Sam Scott struck back for Sheffield when he burst over the try line to bring Sheffield back into the game, with Simon Brown adding the extras.

But Town kept the advantage after Forber added a further penalty on the stroke of half time.

Sheffield boss Mark Aston must have given his troops a resounding team talk as they came out more fired up in the second half.

Watch highlights of Workington Town v Sheffield Eagles. Article continues below...


And it provided quick results as full-back Misi Taulapapa went over in the corner after 47 minutes to bring them to within four points of their hosts.

Andrew Henderson was beginning to come into his own for Sheffield and he made a superb break downfield before releasing Menzie Yere who was only kept out by some strong defence.

Town were coming under increasing pressure but they also had their breakaway chances.

A neat reverse kick from Forber was forced over the dead ball line for a drop-out but Town could not make their possession bear fruit.

Then came the killer blow as Henderson burrowed over the line from acting half-back after Szostack had gone close, Brown converted and Sheffield were in the lead for the first time at 16-14.

Another great kick from Forber right down the touchline gave Town another drop out as they kept Sheffield under pressure but two late tries, as the home defence began to tire, gave the final scoreline an unfairly lopsided appearance.

Nev Morrison and then Szostack crossed on 71 and 74 minutes, with Dominic Brambini converting both for 28-14.

In the end Town were desperately unlucky not to take anything from the game, just falling agonisingly short of a bonus point.

And Sheffield were left with the knowledge that they had been in a tough encounter and were lucky to come out unscathed.

Workington Town: Miller, Patrick, Rooney, Mossop, Frazer, Carter, Forber, MacDonald, King, Farrer, Whitehead, Phillips, Robinson. Subs: Gaskell, Thackray, Tunstall, Dobson.

Tries: Mossop, Carter; Goals: Forber 3/3.

Sheffield: Taulapapa, Finigan, Yere, Morrison, Bergin, Brown, Brambani, Howieson, Henderson, Hepworth, Szostack, Green, Knowles. Subs: Hirst, Scott, Laulu-Togagae, Higgins.

Tries: Scott, Taulapapa, Henderson, Morrison, Szostack; Goals: Brown 2/3, Brambani 2/2

Half time: 14-6.

Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow.

Attendance: 532.

Star Man: Brett Carter.

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