Keswick hit their peak
With No match in the last fortnight due to the game at Della being postponed the Green & Gold men headed for North Cumbria in search of victory down at Davidson Park
No sooner had the referee blown his whistle Fleet were under pressure, clearly the long bus journey had not helped as Keswick seized the moment. Possession lost on their own throw at the lineout the hosts capitalised with a try out wide, their winger showing his pace to touchdown making it 5-0. From the re-start Fleet were initially on the back foot as Keswick sensed more tries could result, however the temporary storm of attack was weathered. In fact Fleet started putting some phases of attack together with flanker Jordan Brocklehurst and No. 8 Scott Richardson busy at the breakdown which allowed some useful go forward from second row Rob Brookfield alongside the adaptable prop Ricky Newton. The backs via centre Karl Bowling were creating space for the returning full back Ali Cheal to make some great runs. With Fleet growing in confidence the match was briefly halted due to a melee that broke out deep in the Keswick 22, the perception of the official was an interesting one as he showed yellow to Richardson plus 2 home players making it briefly a 13 against 14 contest. Surely, the Green and Golds would now capitalise and score with a player advantage? They huffed and puffed but could not blow down the 13 man wall despite the pacey backs of Alex Ogden and Cheal both going close. With the sin-binned players returning the game swung back in favour of Keswick, a poor attempt deep in his own 22 from fly-half Gavin Rowell to run the ball clear allowed the home side a chance to build a platform , and several phases later another try was scored in the corner, no extras making it 10-0. To rub further salt into their wounds Fleet conceded a penalty as Newton was unluckily cited for running into his own man, the half time score was now 13-0.
With words of encouragement and directions of how to manage the second half Head Coach Steve Woodburn asked for a fully committed 40 minutes. Replacement prop Scott Dobbie alongside his fellow front row man Pete Benny made some useful breaks, the former showing an array of handing off techniques as he burst forward. Finally, Fleet were finding space and were taking the game to Keswick. The set piece was now functioning like a well oiled machine as confidence in the Green and Gold ranks increased, so it came as expected when after several phases flanker Mike Kelly was presented with the opportunity to crash over under the sticks to score with the conversion added, 13-7 down. With their tails up Rowell, Bowling and Ogden linked well and again went deep into the opposition territory, disappointingly it lead to no more points. So, back Keswick came and despite having possession in their own half Fleet panicked as centre Brad Stapleton threw a stray pass which was gobbled up by a home player which eventually resulted in a try and a conversion, making it 20-7. Heads did not go down, Bowling picked up a nice pass from Paul Bamber before pinning his ears back and beating several men, he then fed winger Luke Wilson who raced to score under the sticks, making it 20-14. Could this herald the great comeback? The last 10 minutes Fleet were taking the game to Keswick, the forwards were in the thick of the breaks, the scrum was being dominated and it looked like the pressure could turn to points. Sadly, time ran out and no further chances were to be created, final score 20-14.
If only the Green and Golds could have replicated their second half display it would have been a more positive outcome. That said there was much play that Fleet can be proud of, the tackling at times was heroic and the second half scrum was monumental. The stand out players this week were backs Bowling and Cheal who both made plenty of breaks and showed loads of pace with ball in hand. However, this week’s star performer for his tackling, carrying and all round industry is Rob Brookfield.
Next week the Melbourne Avenue men are on the road again as they travel to fulfil the re-arranged fixture with old foes Della Salle.
Report by Dan Jefferson