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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Workington Town gain heartening win at Gateshead

Gateshead Thunder 12 Workington Town 26: There will be much sterner tests to come for Workington Town in the months ahead but one shouldn’t under-estimate the value of an away win in the opening game.

Scott kaighan photo
Scott Kaighan

After last year’s nightmare season which produced only two wins it was encouraging to start with a victory – and a thoroughly deserved success as well.

Two of Gateshead’s three tries were scored when Town were down to 12 men after Jarrad Stack had been mysteriously sent to the sin bin.

The fact that Town came back from that, and despite limited possession and a high penalty count against them, still eked-out a 20-8 lead by the break, which were stats to encourage coach Gary Charlton.

“I think we still have a number of things to work on and we are not completely gelling but it was good to start with a win.

“We have a good bunch of players at the club who enjoy playing and working together and I think that’s something we can build on and improve,” said Charlton afterwards.

Without the benefit of a competitive game so far, Town might have been a little apprehensive especially as Thunder had played in mid-week, even though well beaten at Widnes.

But the west Cumbrians came out of the traps strongly, completing two early sets and disrupting Gateshead’s early feel of the ball.

On three minutes Town scored the opening try after some strong work by the forwards. Jack Pedley finished off well when he hared into space and had too much pace for the stranded last Gateshead defender. Scott Kaighan landed the conversion.

But on eight minutes Stack was shown a yellow card for something the referee had spotted in a tackle and in the next ten minutes Gateshead took advantage of Town’s handicap.

On 12 minutes a grubber kick for the corner by Liam Duffy seemed to have too much on it and was apparently going dead. Certainly Brett Carter thought so as he got there first but somehow Robin Peers sneaked in to snake out an arm and claim the touchdown.

Kevin Neighbour was fractionally wide with the conversion attempt.

Thunder’s second try followed four minutes later. Duffy was again involved with a clever dart and with support arriving two quick passes seemed to have opened up Town enough. But the ball was lost, went backwards and quickly retrieved by hooker Ryan Clarke who dived in for the score. Again Neighbour couldn’t add the extras.

When Town were back to fill strength they didn’t take long in regaining the lead, an advantage they were never to lose.

On 19 minutes centre Andrew Beattie went on an arcing run for the corner and despite the attentions of two desperate defenders plunged over for the second Workington try.

With replacement Stuart Rhodes, skipper Mike Whitehead and Paddy Coupar all putting in big performances up-front, Town started to gain the ascendancy.

They increased their lead on 24 minutes with the best try of the game. Liam Finch timed his pass well to Beattie and he drew in the opposition before slipping the ball to Mike Backhouse. The winger still had work to do as he stepped inside off his wing and a determined surge to the line saw him stretch out to score. Kaighan added the conversion.

Workington could have improved their position a few minutes later but the lively Carter was hurled into touch right by the corner flag as he made a dart for the line.

But Town did gain their final reward of the half on 37 minutes and it was Jamie Marshall, with virtually his first touch of the ball, who raced through from 15 yards to score the fourth try after Beattie and Finch had been prominently involved. Kaighan’s conversion attempt came back off the post.

Trailing 20-8 Gateshead needed to score first in the second half if they were to make serious inroads – and they did.

Early pressure from the home side saw Joe Brown go in for a try too wide out for Neighbour to improve.

Defences were very much on top after that, however, with both teams putting in good tackling stints and scoring opportunities were strictly limited.

Town thought they had got over again midway through the half when Liam Finch hoisted a huge bomb which wasn’t defused. In the scramble that followed Lee Dutton claimed the touchdown but the referee consulted his touch judge and ruled an offside.

Then a superb break down the middle by substitute Mark Walker threatened to slice open the Town defence but full-back John Lebbon did enough to halt his progress until help arrived and Thunder couldn’t profit.

The try that clinched the points for Town came on 70 minutes. Whitehead made good yards from the Gateshead 10 metre line and turned in the tackle to slip the ball to Beattie.

The big centre was stopped and pushed to the ground but in the process he popped the ball to Backhouse who squeezed over for his second try.

Kaighan couldn’t convert but for good measure he put over a penalty three minutes from the end after Thunders’ Johnny Scott was sin-binned for a late tackle on the scrum-half.

A heartening start then for Town, but Charlton isn’t getting carried away and knows there’s a lot of work still to be done.

Town: Lebbon, Carter, Low, Beattie, Backhouse, L. Finch, Kaighan, Dutton, Pedley, Coward, Whitehead, Stack, Coupar. Subs (all used) Marshall, Rhodes, J. Finch, Robinson.

Gateshead: Neighbour, Peers, Wilson, M. Brown, J. Brown, Duffy, Bate, Parker, Clarke, Cakacaka, Welton, Humphries, Barron. Subs (all used) Scott, Walker, Cash, Watson.

Referee: Tim Roby, St. Helens

STAR MAN: BRETT CARTER – Impressed against Whitehaven and Warrington in the friendlies and continued when the action started for real.

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