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Super League may have been marketing the Easter programme as a "Rivals Round", but all eyes were on the Championship on Sunday evening when Workington Town travelled to Whitehaven for a traditional Cumbrian derby in their second meeting of the year.

Town - promoted from League 1 last year - made the trip firmly rooted to the foot of the table and still looking for their first win of the season, while their hosts were three places above them with two wins from seven games.

Coach Chris Thorman was brutally honest and admitted that the squad he'd brought up from League 1, and assembled since promotion, "wasn't good enough". He had added two loan players to the line up, while stressing he has "faith" in his group of players.

Town had first use of the ball and carried it to half-way before kicking. But asked to defend, they were caught offside and gave away a penalty, inviting Haven into their 20m.

A sweeping move from right to left saw Hull loanee Davy Litten glide through the Town defence to touch down in the corner and open the scoring at 4-0 to the hosts. Nikau Willaims's sideline conversion looked like it was on target but bounced back off the left upright and the score stayed there.

Town levelled the scores with 10 minutes of the game gone. Swift hands in the Haven red zone - after a penalty for a high tackle - saw the ball find Alexander Clegg with space in front of him and he beat the defenders to the corner to dot the ball down.

It was Jamie Doran's turn to attempt a touch-line conversion but his attempt went across the face of the goal.

Whitehaven kept up the pressure though, winning back-to-back sets on the quarter-hour mark and successfuly crossing the tryline - but being held up without being rewarded with any points.

Two minutes later, they were pressing the line again with back-to-back sets and being held up, though Town were left with the task of playing out from their goal line.

It looked like they had got out of jail with a spectacular 40-20, but equally spectacular defence from Litten saw him chase the ball and leap to bat it back infield when it had crossed the touchline while still in the air.

But a superb piece of individual play from Town hooker Evan Simons at dummy-half 40m out saw him run at and through a Haven defence not paying proper attention and put the ball down under the posts.

Doran made no mistake with the kick from in front of goal and the bottom club of the Championship led 4-10.

Town responded with a David Ecclestone break down the left before moving the ball inside, where they crossed the line but were held up again. On the next play, however, the attack moved to the left again and Eccleston slid in in the corner.

This time, Williams made no mistake with the kick from touch and the scores were level again at 10-10 with less than 10 minutes of the half to go and the Cumbrian rain pouring down.

But Workington refused to have their enthusiasm dampened and when Oscar Thomas kicked through, Will Tate did not give up on the chase and dotted down just before the the ball crossed the dead-ball line.

Again a touch-line conversion failed.

The half-time hooter loomed - but their was life in the game yet: Whithaven played down tot he Workington line before moving the ball to their right for centre Will Evans to get the final points of the half after the hooter sounded and level the scores again at 14-14. 

Again, the conversion attempt from the sideline was uncsuccessful and the players from both teams went into the dressing rooms to see consider how to break the deadlock.

Haven started the second half with the ball, but coughed it up in their own 20m zone without completing the set.

But with the rain chucking it down, risk-free one-out play dominated both team's tactics, while discipline became more important, alongside ball control. With 10 minutes of the half gone, the likelihood grew that the next score would follow a mistake in either of those areas.

The mistakes abounded in the opening 20m of the half, but neither team could take advantage of them to post points.

And then on 65 minutes, Town gave away a kickable penalty for a head high tackle 25m out and Williams took advantage to put daylight between the teams at 16-14.

Mistakes played their part again, when Williams kicked high into the wind and rain, and Workington full back Thomas spilled the greasy ball to give Haven an attacking posession just 10m from the line. The subsequent defensive effort held firm and held up the hosts over the line, but Have kept up the pressure, forcing another goal line drop out.

Town kicked short but couldn't control the ball and two plays later, Alex King powered over from three metres out to take the score to 20-14. Willaims converted and Haven had an eight-point lead at 22-14 with just minutes to go.

The home team continued to dominate in a frantic final few minutes - and threatened another try, only for Town to kick it the ball dead and the final score remained at 22-14 to the more experienced Championship side.

It was a Whitehaven win, but the game had see-sawed and Workington showed promising touches to suggest their own first victory was achievable - if not in this derby.

Full-Time: 22-14.

Half-Time: 14-14.

Score Progression: 4-0, 4-4, 4-8, 4-10, 8-10, 10-10, 10-14, 14-14.  HT: 16-14, 20-14, 22-14  FT.

Whitehaven RLFC: Litten (T); Eccleston (T), Walker, Evans (T), Bulman; Dixon, Williams (2G, P); Walker, Hookem, Graham, King (T), Holliday, Wilkinson. Subs: Phillips, Aiye, Bradley, Hudson.

Workington Town: Thomas; Young, Brown, Tate (T), Clegg (T); Doran (G), Walker; Fitzsimmons, Simons (T), Thomson, Steele, Barnes, O'Brien. Subs: Henson, Clarke, Brewin, Weetman.

Referee: Mike Smaill.



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Posted by tb on Sun 17th Apr 2022 6:24 PM | Views : 20330 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES