The Strawberry Grounds, Croslands Park Road, Off Abbey Road,
Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, LA13 9LA
Saturday 11th March
Furness 1st 10 Keswick 23
A valiant Furness defensive effort wasn’t enough to halt Keswick’s march towards the Cumbria league title and promotion on a dank dismal day matched only by referee Ciaran Trainor’s sober attire.
The visitors began the game on the front foot, dominating possession and territory, and although stretched from time to time the Furness defence held firm with Tom Brannon and the ever dependable Corne Els leading by example, and Rhys Humphreys putting in some good tackles in midfield. It was 15 minutes in that Keswick put the first points on the board converting the simplest of penalties to give them a deserved lead.
The ensuing kick off gave the home side the opportunity to apply some pressure of their own and impressive handling and support by the whole team had Tez Nueto heading for the corner and to all spectating it was inconceivable that Keswick had brought him down millimetres short. If only he’d been on the same diet as George North!
Keswick were unable to relieve the pressure and it was Els who deservedly forced his way over the try line close in to give Furness an unexpected lead. Lacking a regular kicker the conversion attempt went wide and the blue’s advantage remained 2 points.
It didn’t take too long for Furness to extend their lead as Rhys Studt showed good vision on the half way line and caught the visitors napping with a quickly taken penalty that put Charlie Martin in near the posts for the second try of the day. Again the conversion attempt went wide leaving the score 10 – 3 to Furness.
Keswick again ramped up the pressure and finished the half the stronger, although they were unable to cross the home try line as Furness continued to defend manfully. They did however manage to reduce the deficit to 4 points on the stroke of half time with another successful penalty attempt.
Keswick began the second half as the had the first pinning the home side deep in their half and they were rewarded initially with an unconverted push over try that edged them into the lead and soon after they disrupted a Furness scrum which led to a converted try and an eight point advantage.
The Keswick team and coaching staff’s reaction to the score showed that they thought a bonus point win was on the cards, however, Furness again mounted a spirited fight back, returning play to the visitors half for a lengthy spell. The forwards put in a monumental effort but it was Keswick’s turn to hold firm. Dan Scott fresh off the bench made some hard yards and was well supported by Ben Hughes amongst others but the visitor’s try line remained elusive. Corne Els drove on relentlessly, and at one stage he had ran himself to a standstill, but such is the character of the man, 2 minutes later he was leading the charge again.
The Furness effort petered out and it was left to the visitors to have the final say with a further unconverted try that brought an end to proceedings giving them a well earned victory by 23 points to 10. Furness had battled hard but came up short against a fit well organised side that dominated most aspects of play and were certainly one of the best outfits seen at the Strawberry Grounds this season.