WRUFC welcomed Cockermouth to the playground for this Cumbria league 1 fixture. Cockermouth had won the reverse fixture earlier in the season 18-11 and have kicked on well since benefiting from the Cumbria league's restructure seeing them promoted. Since then they've been doing well sitting comfortably third and taking some of the traditional big Cumbrian clubs scalps along the way.
The playing conditions were best described as greasy with a steady drizzle it didn’t look like it was going to be a day for fluid running rugby. Whitehaven kicked off and earned an early penalty getting the first points of the game from the boot of Steven McConnell. Haven were controlling the game well in the early exchanges retaining possession and were camped in the Cockermouth half for a long period plugging away at a well organised Cockermouth defence. However for all Haven's endeavour it would be Cockermouth who would score next against the run of play with an interception the Cockermouth player raced away around 60M to score, the conversion was off the post to make the score 3-5. The score spurred Haven on as they worked their way back into the Cockermouth half with a series of strong carries from the forwards. Given the conditions a few handling errors were starting to work their way in for both sides. From previous encounters Cockermouth have had a strong set piece particularly at the scrum where they were able to pressure on the Whitehaven scrum but Haven were able to keep their own feed as the game progressed both sides were able to secure the ball of each other’s feed. The lineout was a different story as Cockermouth’s lineout malfunctioned throughout the game with a lot of this being down to good work from Kyle Jenkinson who was able to win possession on the Cockermouth throw on several occasions.
Haven continued be patient with the forwards carrying well and winning the collisions and the back line asking questions of the Cockermouth defence. Cockermouth were defending their line well but it was looking like only a matter of time until the Haven pressure told which would be the case with the Haven forwards claiming a converted try from close range to make it 10-5 at half time.
As Cockermouth had struggled in the first half to retain much possession the half time message might have been to revert to a more simple and direct game plan. The Cockermouth pack has plenty of hard runners and they took it to the Whitehaven forwards but with no quarter given the Whitehaven defence held firm and were often able to drive the Cockermouth attacks backwards. After the visitors enjoying arguably their best period of the game Haven were able to regain control of the game following a break from Luke Scott to get the home side back into the Cockermouth 22. The forwards got closer to the line following a series of pick and goes, eventually the attack was ended with the Cockermouth defence holding up the Haven player over the line. The resulting attack from the scrum was knocked on to allow Cockermouth a brief respite , however this was short lived as the hosts made their way back up into the Cockermouth 22. Following a series of drives from the Haven forwards this sucked in a sufficient number of Cockermouth defenders to provide an overlap with quick hands allowing full back Jamie Irving to go over in the corner. The tricky touch line conversion was good from the boot of Steven McConnell to make the score 17-5 importantly this moved Haven beyond a converted try as the game was moving into the final quarter.
To their credit the Cockermouth's sides heads did not drop as they looked to get themselves back into the game. Their first chance came from a great touch finder from a penalty deep in their own half giving them a 5 meter line out. The catch and drive was well snuffed out by the Haven forwards but Cockermouth retained possession and peppered the Haven line earning a few penalties but needing a try opted for quick taps, but again the Haven defence held firm and drove the Cockermouth attack backwards eventually resulting in a knock on. Cockermouth were soon back on the attack when they sent a kick deep into the Whitehaven half, initially the kick was dove on by Haven's fullback on the ground but was well chased up by Cockermouth, although it looked like the Cockermouth player didn't allow the Haven player to get back to his feet the decision went the way of the visitors who were awarded a scrum. The next attack went much the way of the previous efforts with the Haven defence keeping their discipline and forcing the error to allow them to clear their line. The return saw one of the moments of the game which summarised Haven's defensive effort, when following a half break Cockermouth had numbers out wide leaving the Cockermouth prop running at pace to claim a consolation score, however a huge hit from Jamie Irving dislodged the ball lost forward to keep the visitors scoreless in the second half.
Full time 17-5.
A huge effort from the Haven lads from 1-18, who controlled the game very well in attack and defence to beat a very good Cockermouth team. A great effort from both sides to serve up a great game of rugby for the spectators well officiated by referee Martin Denver who despite the conditions allowed the game to flow. Man of the match for Whitehaven was scrum half Luke Thompson who put in a huge shift in attack and defence.
With one round of fixtures remaining the league will then split into two with the top and bottom 4 all playing each other again. The top 3 is already decided from Keswick, Aspatria, and Cockermouth. Wigton currently sit 4th with Whitehaven 5th. Wigton will retain 4th place if they win their last fixture at home against Hawcoat Park while a loss for Wigton and a win for Haven against league leaders Keswick at home will see Haven leapfrog Wigton into 4th. Haven can take a lot of confidence following this performance and will now if they can reach the same level against a Keswick side that have only been beaten once this season that a win is possible.