League leaders too strong for under strength Stockport pack
By Mike Atkinson
Stockport spend much of game defending but defensive effort denies Carlisle bonus point until well into second half injury time.
Stockport entertained League leaders Carlisle at Headlands Road on Saturday, with a reduced squad following last weeks convincing victory against Birkenhead Park. It was a much more convincing performance than when they met Carlisle away earlier in the season but with an under strength front row and an early injury to prop Sean Gill the visitors pack proved much too powerful. Stockport spent much of the game in defence and the unpredictable wind did not help anyone. However it was not until the second half was in injury time that the league leaders managed to score a bonus point penalty try, reflecting well on Stockport’s defensive effort. A positive start with a good maul producing a try for Stockport’s Matt Lawrowitz after only 7 minutes took the home side into an early lead but the visitors scored twice to make it 7-14 at the break and then twice more with an added penalty to make it 7-31 at the end.
The early try for Stockport came after a good break by Simon Green and a penalty took the home side to a line out 15 metres out, the catch and drive gave Lawrowitz his try and fly half Tom Eaton converted. Carlisle responded with some pressure and missed a penalty on 15 minutes before a 60 metre clearance put them in an attacking position their drive and 5 phase attack took them over the line but Stockport held them up. The Carlisle power at the 5 metre scrum was too much and the No 8 picked up to score under the posts to make it 7-7. After more pressure and some good Stockport defence the Carlisle fly half made a half break and his offload put his centre in for a try under the posts to make it 7-14. Stockport finished the half with some good attacking play.
The second half started well for Stockport with a couple of penalties and line outs but they were unable to take advantage. An exchange of wind affected kicks was followed by a 30 metre rolling maul by Carlisle but they knocked on. Their pressure at the scrum turned the ball over and after several phases they moved the ball wide to right and their wing scored on 56 minutes, the difficult conversion made it 7-21. A reversed penalty for petulance gave Carlisle a kick at goal on 60 minutes and they were 7-24 ahead. Stockport responded well with another good break by Green but a pass was intercepted on half way and it took a desperate covering tackle from wing Josh Schofield to prevent a Carlisle score. More Carlisle pressure and more good Stockport defence followed before an exchange of penalty kicks to touch. Carlisle then opted for a scrum following another penalty and their power resulted in a penalty try being conceded to make it 7-31 at the final whistle.
There is a break next week before a local derby away against Manchester who have had a good spell and lie just two points behind Stockport in the table, this will be a vital game for both teams.