Aspatria facing the drop after Sheffield stunner
Published at 00:00, Monday, 24 November 2003
ASPATRIA look to be in deep trouble in North One after losing their crunch relegation battle with Sheffield.
The Black Reds went down 26-20 and are now bottom of the League with just two points - the same as Huddersfield, the only team they have beaten.
Sheffield are third bottom on four points and they will host the Black Reds in a quick return game in Yorkshire on December 20.
Coach Tommy Borthwick said: "The most disappointing thing was I felt Sheffield were a poor side and having got ourselves in front during the second-half we then showed naivety which cost us the game."
In many ways the crucial spell came just before half time when Aspatria were reduced to 13 men as both Andrew Miller and Lee Tinnion spent time in the sin bin.
From being level and fairly comfortable at 3-3 Aspatria found themselves 13-3 in arrears and struggling to chase the game.
"They hit us twice soon after we had lost each player but we put together a very good 20-minute spell after the restart which got us in front at 17-13 lead. Then I'm afraid it all went wrong for us as we went 23-17 behind," said Borthwick.
Miller followed up a chip to go in under the posts and Steven Stoddart added the conversion. Stoddart had kicked a penalty early in the game.
Then South African centre Louw Kruger burst through to score under the posts and with Stoddart converting, Aspatria looked to be on their way.
But some sloppy defending let Sheffield in for a converted try to go back in front. They added a penalty and although Stoddart kicked a penalty five minutes from time the final word went to Sheffield with a penalty in the last minute.
Aspatria travel to fourth-placed Chester on Saturday and follow up with a home game against mid-table Birkenhead Park.
Penrith picked up a good point from a 15-15 draw at Aspull in North Two West.
The Penrith players had watched the World Cup final in their own clubhouse before travelling and when they arrived at Aspull the referee had not turned up.
A substitute official arrived after a half hour delay and it was agreed to play 30 minutes each way.
Penrith made a good start and took an early lead. A good break by winger Paul Hetherington set up an attacking position and from a line-out, Penrith's well worked catch and drive saw hooker Bob Lee get the opening try.
Aspull came back to lead 10-5 at the break with a converted try and a penalty - but Penrith were unlucky over the try.
Gavin Young made a superb tackle on the home centre but he was then allowed to get -up without releasing the ball and the home flanker took the pass to score.
"After watching an Australian penalised for the same offence in a World Cup final it was a bit galling to see a similar incident go against us," said Penrith coach Nigel Beaty.
Penrith responded well in the second half and regained the lead with an excellent try. Toby Slack was covering well to gather a chip over the top by Aspull and he made a 60-yard break before finding player-coach Gordon MacLelland in support.
He took the ball on before putting Hetherington in for the try, which Stuart Wilson converted.
Ten minutes from time a lapse of concentration in the Penrith defence let in Aspull for their second try but the Cumbrians gained a deserved point with a Wilson penalty a minute from time.
In the same League Wigton scored their best away win for some considerable time - 39-22 at Stockport.
It had the committee members pondering throughout the return journey to Cumbria just when was the last time they had scored so many points on their travels for a League fixture.
The team had watched the World Cup final at Lowmoor Road before setting off for Stockport and they only arrived ten minutes before the scheduled start.
Understanding opponents and referee gave them 25 minutes before starting.
It wasn't a good start by Wigton for they were soon 5-0 down to a try from home skipper, number eight Nick Royle.
But that sparked a good Wigton response and by half-time they had established a 17-5 lead.
After a good forward drive the ball was whipped out to Stuart Dixon who raced in for the equalising try.
Then it was Paul Branthwaite who crossed after linking up with Paul Brough before David Warwick took a neat interception to go over for a third try which Branthwaite converted.
Mark Thompson was unlucky not to score but five minutes after the break Wigton engineered a pushover try, credited to Brough which Branthwaite converted.
When Tane Manihera took a loose pass to race away for another interception try, Branthwaite's conversion gave Wigton a 31-5 lead.
Stockport, who had been on the back foot for an hour, scored two tries inside ten minutes through Tim Burgon, one of which was converted but Wigton then replied with a Branthwaite penalty.
Dixon grabbed his second try and when Dan Eccles scored another try for Stockport it was too late to restart.
Three games were called off in the North Lancs Cumbria League - BAE Barrow v Upper Eden, Carlisle v Blackpool and Tyldesley v Workington.
There was a stroll in the park for Gosforth Greengarth as they trounced the 14 men of Furness 78-3.
They scored 12 tries in total, nine of which were converted by Mark Eastwood.
Robin Sparshott, Seascale cricketer and normally a footballer during the winter, was asked to fill in for the late Mark Graham. Playing on the wing he grabbed a hat-trick with his first three touches of the ball.
Sparshott was thanked for his efforts and replaced at half-time by the late arriving Graham - who promptly went on to score a hat-trick himself.
Dion Seath (2), Matt Walsh, Paul Dickinson, Alistair Lord and Eastwood scored the other tries for the home side.
Tightest of the four game which were played in the Cumbria League was at Ambleside where the home team went down 24-19 to visitors Creighton.
It was a great effort by Creighton, who were registering their second win of the season - and both in succession.
Chairman Peter Small said: "We were over the moon because seven or eight of the more experienced players didn't travel after the World Cup and we took a team of youngsters.
"Ambleside had a massive pack, who were well on top of ours, but we definitely had the sharper backs and we scored a very good victory in the end."
The home side had the better of the early exchanges, trying to exert superiority up front and they took the lead with a converted try through the forwards.
Creighton hit back and full-back Daniel Dudley came through quickly into the line to score an unconverted try.
The visitors continued to look dangerous and stand-off Matthew Cockett sliced through for a well-take try under the posts which Keith Shaw converted.
Then before half-time Shaw went in for Creighton's third try to give them a 17-7 lead at the break.
Ambleside's forwards took up the running again at the start of the second half and they got in for a second converted try to cut the deficit to three points.
It was Creighton's turn to exert pressure and Brett Ashbridge picked up a loose ball to power through for a fourth try which Shaw converted.
Near the end the Ambleside scrum-half made a brilliant break from just over halfway to round-off the scoring.
Egremont were made to work hard for their 25-0 success at Whitehaven, and it was only 7-0 at half-time. From a penalty move centre Mark Long went in under the posts and full-back Mark Caulfield added the conversion.
Caulfield kicked a penalty at the start of the second half and then centre Kris Carson went in for the second try which Caulfield converted.
Caulfield added another penalty before Ian Bell scored the third and final try in the corner.
St. Benedict's went top of the table with their 21-3 home win over Keswick in what turned out to be a good, competitive game in heavy, strength-sapping conditions.
Keswick travelled with 16 and were soon bringing on their replacement when lock Paul Wightman took a knock.
But Shawn Ackerlay kicked them ahead with a penalty before Chris Lynch kicked the Saints level.
Then Keswick managed to foul-up at a line-out and they were punished as Geoff Clements went in at the corner.
Jamie Jardine burst off the back of a rolling maul to power 20 yards for the second try and it stayed at 13-3 at the break with Keswick earning all their medals in defence.
Lynch kicked a second penalty before player-coach Mark Ryan, playing in the centre, rounded off the scoring with the third unconverted try after taking advantage of some slack Keswick defending.
Two games - Netherhall v Moresby and Silloth v Millom - were called off by mutual agreement and will be played later in the season.
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