Cumbria’s talented group of Under-18s will be looking for their third win of the season on Sunday.

It’s been 10 years since this age-group won a single game in a season, let alone three in the same campaign.

So, there’s tremendous excitement about the last match in the North programme which is being played at Newcastle’s Kingston Park.

After wins over Northumberland (34-10) and Durham (45-7), Cumbria Under-18s have been matched up with Lancashire, who are also unbeaten following victories against Yorkshire and Cheshire.

The final training session with head coach Matthew Shields, assisted by Graham Kidd and Matty Kaye, is at Penrith RUFC tonight.

Lead coach Nigel Beaty said: “The response from players, clubs and schools has been fantastic, with everyone available, apart from those who are injured, for all the games.

"Another win to make it three from three would be a tremendous achievement for all involved and put a good number of players in a strong position for selection for the North of England trial which can lead to England Counties selection.

"This will be our toughest game and, when you look at the relative sizes of the counties, we have no chance.

"However, the lads have built a strong team spirit and know they can perform even better which is all we can ask for.”

For the match on Sunday, there are a couple of team changes.

Grant Seward, Man-of-the-Match against Northumberland, returns after injury in the back-row and Sam King comes into the second-row as he is now fully fit.

“We have had to disappoint some lads who played well in the last match. Top try-scorer Joe Connelly is injured, with Euan Forlow coming back into the squad,” added Beaty. 

Shields, heading the coaching team under the experienced Beaty, must believe everything he touches at the moment turns to gold.

For as well as the Under-18s enjoying their best season for years, his main work at Carlisle is bearing plenty of fruit as they continue to propel themselves towards the North One West title.

A determined display on Saturday saw them win 25-12 at home to Douglas, one of only two teams to beat them so far in the league.

The latest win enabled Carlisle to extend their lead at the top to 15 points as all their main rivals slipped up.

Interestingly, the team closest to them at the time, Stockport, were beaten 25-23 at home to Broughton Park who host Carlisle tomorrow.

Broughton Park are still in the bottom three, so will be fighting for every point, and it should be noted that unlike three teams immediately above them, including Penrith, have won more games than they have lost (8-7).

Indeed, they are only one of two teams in the bottom half of the table who are in credit on their points differential.

So, a capable enough side on their day and complacency would certainly be an approach that Shields will be anxious to erase from his Carlisle troops on the day.

He will be wanting the sort of start his side made against Douglas, building-up a 13-0 lead by half-time and scoring a further try soon after the restart.

The Manxmen had a good spell in the middle of the half with two tries, one converted and, at 18-12, the game was in the melting point until a converted try five minutes from the end wrapped up the spoils.

James Telford (2) and Grant Connon scored the Carlisle tries with Connon adding two penalties and two conversions.

Although Carlisle have a handsome 15-point lead at the top, there are only 11 points separating second and 12th place in the league.

Penrith are ninth of the 14 clubs, eight points off the promotion play-off spot, but only three clear of the final relegation place.

At the moment, it all points to a frantic scramble to grab second place (with Carlisle nailed on for top spot) and also to avoid third bottom, with the last two already booked for the drop.

Penrith certainly didn’t help their cause last week with a disastrous 87-39 defeat at Manchester, arguably their worst-ever performance at league level.

By half-time, it was 59-8 and the opening 40 minutes from Penrith had been appalling.

It’s back to Winters Park tomorrow and an important clash with Firwood Waterloo who beat bottom side De La Salle 40-7 last week.

In the Cumbria League One, Aspatria gained a point back on leaders Keswick after they beat a young, but game Upper Eden side 59-10 at Bower Park.

Keswick were having to work particularly hard to win 18-13 at Wigton so now lead the table by eight points.

Aspatria’s forward power and backline precision earned nine tries in their big win with No.8 Matthew Atkinson scoring four of them.