There was no third time lucky for Cumbria as they failed at the semi
final stage for the third year in succession, this time, as last year,
against Surrey at Aspatria. They did not run them as close as last year
but you could not fault the spirit or the effort shown by the Cumbrians
who gave there all, they just simply came up short against a well
motivated, big, strong, well drilled outfit.
It was good to see from the start Cumbria had an uphill battle on their
hands, Surrey showed purpose and determination from the off and their
intention to make it a hard physical contest was clear. It was no
surprise when they took an early lead with a penalty goal but the home
side were able to strike back from the restart. Over deliberation with
the clearance kick enabled Phil Fell to make up the ground to charge
down the attempted kick, he was then able to gather the ball to score
the try to give them the lead and Gregg Smith added the conversion.
The lead did not last long as Surrey piled on the pressure, a penalty
kicked to the corner gave them an attacking platform with a lineout
which they won and the forwards rumbled forward, Cumbrian defence
stopped the initial drives but they were unable to stop the No8 as he
peeled off and crashed over from 5m.
Cumbria were having trouble getting over the gain line and there cause
was not helped mid way through the first half when they lost big Ryan
Johnson with an ankle injury. They then conceded a second converted try
following a poor clearance kick, the visitors ran it back and put the
ball through the phases before Cumbria ran out of defenders on their
right and the winger went around the outside. Cumbria again struck back
from the restart, Surrey were penalised and did not retreat 10m when
the ball was run and from the advanced penalty spot Smith kicked the
penalty to drag them back to only 17-10 down. They were then again
under tremendous pressure as the half drew to a close defending a 5m
scrum but were able to hold out to half time and with the advantage of
the breeze in the second period give themselves a chance.
They looked to be back in the game as Surrey were penalised at the
restart following some ferocious Cumbrian tackling and a second Smith
penalty put them within a score. It was not to last long as Surrey won
a penalty from the restart and then two converted tries in six minutes
from the Surrey blind side flanker put the game to bed. He scored the
first after their stand off chipped the defensive line and then
gathered his own kick to feed the flanker. The second came following a
period of sustained possession where they wore down the Cumbrian
rearguard and the pressure told.
Surrey looked at this stage as if they were going to run away with it
and rack up 50 points or more but to their credit the home players dug
in and refused to crack, they went close when David Hannabury made the
only clean Cumbrian break of the game but he was brought down just
short, their stubbornness was rewarded when got themselves into the
visitor’s 22 and won a penalty 5m out, they tapped and drove and sheer
determination by the forwards earned them a try through Graham Andrews.
They were back to within two scores but a final Surrey penalty killed
off any hope of a revival and Surrrey go on to the final deserving