Saturday 18 October 2014 – 3.00pm
Warwick Road, Carlisle
North One West
Defeat for Birkenhead Park meant that the mighty Kendal remain at the top of North One West despite suffering a first defeat of the season yesterday in a fierce Cumbrian derby at Carlisle.
Although the anticipated battle of livewire wingers Yousef Sahib and Dini Noyo didn’t materialise (both did score though), this blood-and-thunder affair at Warwick Road went right down to the wire and a Dan Holmes try two minutes from time sent the north Cumbrians wild, and left the travelling Kendal fans to contemplate defeat on their way back down the M6.
With Carlisle beginning the day ninth in the table and coming off a tight comeback win at New Brighton last week while Kendal were destroying Wigton at Mint Bridge, the first score unsurprisingly went to the visitors, Chris Park kicking a penalty for offside on the 22.
Carlisle went on the attack and went through the phases, but dogged defence from Kendal kept the hosts around the 22 line, young openside Henry Wainwright among those making fruitless drives.
Carlisle finally made the breakthrough just shy of the twenty-minute mark, with a 22 lineout on the left brought inside and James Roche found Matt Minett on his shoulder, the full-back cutting between Kendal’s central defenders to score under the posts. Damian Armstrong converted and Carlisle had a deserved lead.
The visitors from South Lakeland seemed galvanised by the try, with Dan Lowther making a probing run down the left but failing to find Noyo on the wing. The referee brought the play back for an offside penalty, but Kendal’s attack broke down when Lowther was unable to take Nathan Woolf’s pass in the centre.
Chris Park looked to have telegraphed a golden chance for the Hornets when he missed Alistair Thompson on the overlap, but Kendal recycled and a crossfield kick to the left was collected by Noyo for the South African winger’s sixth try in two games. Park’s conversion restored Kendal’s three-point lead.
However, Carlisle hit back before half-time. Minett took a high kick in the Kendal half and the hosts spread the ball right for Martin Brodie to break through Noyo’s tackle and score just to the right of the posts.
The conversion made the half-time score 14-10 as Armstrong pulled a long-range penalty wide late in the half.
The second period was initially scrappy, but Kendal took control of possession and a move involving Matty Kaye, Liam Hayton and rampaging cult hero prop Billy Coxon led the visitors from halfway to the 22. Carlisle’s Shane Moynihan strayed offside but a huge gust of wind pushed Park’s penalty wide.
Wainwright was then sent to the sin bin for a clear offside ten metres out from the posts and Kendal tapped and drove, but were held up.
Finally the breakthrough came on 54 minutes, with Gary Holmes almost making it to the line but Tom Voke finding a tiny gap and diving over to put Kendal back into the lead. Lowther, involved in most of Kendal’s good play all afternoon, increased the visitors’ lead with another try.
The league leaders from South Lakeland appeared in control now, and even stole a lineout on halfway to allow Noyo to go on a thirty-metre run but a tap on the 22 knocked the winger off-balance, saving the game for Carlisle.
With ten minutes to go, Carlisle began to build their attack and a series of penalties took them into the Kendal half. With seven minutes left, teenage winger Sahib took a difficult pass just outside the 22 and rounded the away defence on the left to score an excellent try, and Minett’s conversion reduced the gap to just three points.
Josh Holmes led Carlisle’s attempts to punch a hole in the visitors’ defence, and Minett also probing. The clock ticked down to 78 minutes, when Barry Earl crashed into the defence, and offloaded for replacement Dan Holmes to dive over on the right and send the home fans mad. Minett pulled the crucial conversion wide, but Kendal knocked on from the kick-off and after retaining possession, Carlisle put the ball out to make safe their victory.
Carlisle’s management were ecstatic after the victory, with head coach Gary Hewer praising his team’s determination and endeavour against a side he expects to still go on to top North One West come April.
*A shorter version of this report appeared in today’s Sunday Sun. Thanks to Gary Hewer for quotes and BBC’s James Clarke for assistance.