Carlisle Rugby Club ground out another North One West win to stay firmly at the top of the pile as they beat Manchester 34-24.

The visitors were on the scoreboard within three minutes when Chris Auld took the ball 10 metres into the Manchester half before a knock-on gave Carlisle scrum ball.

The Carlisle pack exercised their muscles and, after a reset, the ball was swung out to fly-half Grant Connon who ghosted through the Manchester defence and under the posts for the first try.

From the restart, prop John Short made some hard yards up the field, then Auld swung the ball left out to winger Jonathan Crichton, who made a barnstorming run down the left. He beat the full-back and dragged the Manchester lock with him over the line for Carlisle’s second try.

Carlisle then gifted Manchester a penalty on eight minutes from an infringement at the ruck in front of the posts 30 metres out, which they duly converted.

Crichton then made inroads into Manchester territory and, although the ball eventually was knocked forward, the hosts were left defending a scrum on their 22.

Carlisle managed to snaffle the ball, giving Auld the easiest of walk-ins under the posts for Carlisle’s third try inside 13 minutes.

Manchester kept plugging away and, after a couple of astray line-outs from Carlisle, they found a gap in the scrambling visitors defence to cross the whitewash, and narrow the score to 19-10.

When Carlisle earned a scrum 10 metres out from the Manchester try-line, No.8 Matt Shields broke right and fed a deft pass to Auld who shook off two defenders to score his second try and Carlisle’s bonus point just over the half-hour mark.

Carlisle led 26-10 at the break but resumed in complacent mood and Manchester needed very little encouragement as they battered Carlisle for the first 20 minutes of the second half.

They scored two well-deserved tries, narrowing the gap to just two points and with a baying crowd getting behind their home side, Carlisle needed to respond.

And they did. Full-back Max Connon found a chink in the Manchester defence and he danced and weaved his way through them to take the ball deep into home territory.

Auld followed and took the ball up to the line where he won a scrum 5m out, as they were held up trying to drive over the Manchester try-line.

From the scrum, Shields broke left and set the ball up for Jason Israel to fire a long pass to Crichton out on the wing. Although he still had two defenders to beat, he somehow managed to stretch out and place the ball on the line for Carlisle’s fifth try.

Credit to Manchester for throwing everything into the last 15 minutes as they sought to try to find someway through the Carlisle defence.

Carlisle defended well though, and when they made ground into Manchester territory, the hosts strayed offside at a ruck in front of the posts.

It gave Grant Connon the easiest of penalty opportunities with two minutes to go which effectively put the game beyond Manchester’s reach.

Carlisle simply had to defend for the remaining few minutes which they did, and Connon booted the ball off the park for another precious five points away from home.