THREE key games are coming up for Carlisle as they make a concerted effort to get clear of the North Premier relegation zone.

The city side fell into the bottom three after a brave, but ultimately losing performance against League leaders Macclesfield.

A 40-29 home defeat did not even give them a losing bonus point which, in many ways, their performance deserved.

Now they have to dust themselves down, focus the mind and target maximum points from the next three fixtures.

They travel to Blackburn tomorrow, old friends from North One West, as the pair were both promoted at the end of last season.

Perhaps surprisingly Blackburn have fared much better in the higher grade, currently lying sixth in the table, some 14 points ahead of Carlisle.

But Shields’ men should be well-prepared for this one and will fancy their chances.

Then come two really important games - at home to Alnwick (three points and three places better off) and away to Wirral (three points and two places higher).

If they can perform as well as they have done against some of the top sides they will be fine.

They had led briefly in the first-half and only trailed 19-17 at the break. Indeed they finished with five tries from Henry Wainwright (2), Grant Connon, Rory Parish and Josh Holmes.

Penrith's dismal start to 2020 in North One West continued for their trip to Douglas at the weekend where they lost 36-7.

A bare squad of 18 was selected but a late cry-off meant head coach Dave Preston was one of the travelling 17.

The side that was put together was perhaps not the first choice and maybe had several players playing out of position but it did have spirit, tenacity and a failure to give in even when things weren’t going well.

They found themselves 12 points down in nine minutes conceding two tries and it eventually finished 36-7, six tries to one, scored by Tom Lindsay.

It had been 26-7 at half-time and two late tries gave the final score a rather more flattering look for the hosts than it actually was.

Penrith now have a home game against Vale of Lune tomorrow where they will be hoping to find a bit of form with difficult trips to Wilmslow and Birkenhead Park to come next.

Keswick’s mini revival appears to have been nipped in the bud as they were swamped 71-7 at Birkenhead Park on Saturday.

Ryan Weir continued his remarkable scoring spell by notching another fine try for Keswick.

This week’s heavy rain caused familiar flooding at Davidson Park putting tomorrow’s home game with Burnage in serious doubt.

Club chairman Trevor Keough said: “The members have done a great job in cleaning out the clubhouse which was under six inches of water.

“But we are dependent on the weather for this weekend and the forecast isn’t good.”

It’s an attractive fixture too, as Burnage have climbed to the top of the table.

In North Two West, Aspatria travel to Rochdale who are second in the table.

The five points earned from a 42-14 win at Leigh last week moved Aspatria up to ninth place in the table but still only four points clear of the final relegation slot. More hard work awaits the Black Reds before survival is secure, but the mood is positive and they are firmly in control of their fate.

Best game in the Cumbria League sees leaders St. Benedict’s hosting fourth-placed Upper Eden.

The other games are: Cockermouth v Egremont; Furness v Carlisle Crusaders; Hawcoat Park v Silloth; Millom v Creighton; Wigton v Windermere and Workington v Whitehaven.