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Friday, 31 October 2014

Workington slump to seventh straight North Lancs league defeat

Workington collected an unwanted club record in North Lancs Cumbria when they suffered a seventh straight league defeat.

Rugby union action photo
Workington's Ross Dougherty, left, offloads

They went down 30-25 to promotion chasing Aldwinians in on of the best games seen at The Ellis in recent times.

The return from injury of several key Zebras men – including David Bowe, John Chisnall and Bede O'Connor – brought cohesion and stability to the side and for the opening 20 minutes of the first half, matched their Manchester counterparts stride for stride.

Each side exchanged converted penalties – Michael Fearon for Workington, Jonathan Worrell for Aldwinians – and the action mostly confined to cancelling out each other in midfield.

Suddenly, on 21 minutes, Aldwinians went ahead when Ben Marsland took advantage of a weak Zebras kick and breezed over for the opening try. Worrell wasted no time with his conversion.

The hosts then exerted a period of firm pressure against the visitors that merely yielded a second Fearon penalty on 33 minutes. But in the space of just five minutes, Aldwinians captain Worrell increased their lead further– first with another penalty, before shaking off naive marking to touch down for a try which he then converted.

Fearon smoothly put over two penalties just before half time to reduce the deficit from 14 points to eight and Zebras went into the break on a high and with confidence - qualities that have been scarce so that this season.

Eight minutes into the second half, a fifth penalty from Fearon brought Zebras to within a try of Aldwinians, but two minutes later.

Russell Thompson delivered a sucker punch to the home side as he exploited more slack marking to crash over for the visitors' third try.

Again, Worrell converted easily. But Workington refused to cave in and three minutes later, Joseph Hewer marked his return from injury by pouncing on a handling error to cruise over for a well deserved try. Fearon kept up his 100% record with another conversion to give him 20 points and put Zebras now within two points.

By this time, Workington were pushing Aldwinians to the brink and their quest for a winning try was matched only by the visitors' resolute stonewall rearguard.

Then, on 71 minutes, Zebras were awarded a straightforward penalty. One could hear tumbleweed blowing as Fearon lined up his kick – alas, he pulled his kick agonisingly wide of the post and many a groan could be heard round The Ellis.

A few Zebras' heads went down and this was sensed by the visitors, who proceeded to frustrate their opponents with a combination of stubborn defending and running down the clock.

Finally, with a barely a minute to go, Worrell capped a man of the match performance and secured Aldwinians' victory with a coolly executed penalty, giving him a 20 point match haul.

What could have been four badly needed points for Daniel Bowman's men became just one losing bonus point and the defeat – along with results elsewhere – has dropped Workington into the relegation zone, with only Millom below them.

By contrast Egremont were in celebratory mood as they collected their second win of the season, to off-set a recent five-point penalty. The west Cumbrians beat Blackburn 20-19 in a Bleach Green thriller.

St Benedict’s were the latest team to feel the full force of League leaders Fleetwood, who look strong favourites to lift the title this time.

The Mirehouse side lost 35-0 in their home clash with the early pacemakers who boast the only 100% record in the section.

The game was in doubt until the last minute with heavy rain leaving the pitch in a saturated state.

But both captains agreed the pitch was just playable and the game started on time after strenuous efforts by home officials to pump water from the pitch.

Benny’s coach Ian McQuire said: “I thought we put up a really spirited performance, especially as we had to play 35 minutes with only 14 men.

“To be honest Fleetwood were strong and pacey, and they were the best team that we’ve played for a very long time.”

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