Carlisle 1st XV
Sat 24 Feb 2024
Carlisle Rugby Club
Carlisle 1st XV
Tries: J Holmes, T GrahamConversions: J Israel (2)
Match report Carlisle v Aspatria County Cup semifinal 24-2-24

Match report Carlisle v Aspatria County Cup semifinal 24-2-24

Bill Glendinning24 Feb - 22:20
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Carlisle beat the Black Reds for a place in the Cup final against Penrith

What's not to like about a good old fashioned derby against rivals from the west of the County.
The question most were asking was how good was this Carlisle side, having blown most of the opposition away in Cumbria 1, when they came up against a side performing well in the league above?
Had they flattered to deceive, or was there a growing confidence and self belief in this squad, that would see them through an examination by Aspatria?

Carlisle started well from the start and it was the visitors who were having to defend their territory for significant periods. Captain Josh Holmes, Tom Graham and Lloyd Clark were carrying hard into the Aspatria defence, and gaining territory for Carlisle. However Aspatria were providing very stiff resistance and weathered the opening exchanges to take the game back to Carlisle. The visitors were using their width well and their back line was proving a torment for Carlisle, though the blue wall held. Aspatria did find a gap out right for their winger to go through but he knocked on with the line at his mercy. Carlisle were also their own worse enemies in the opening 20 minutes, with their penalty count easily into the tens, which gifted the visitors a chances to push back upfield, and negated a lot of the hard effort to drive into Aspatria territory.
Eventually though, Carlisle were able to push the visitors back deep into the red zone, with a succession of 5m lineouts from penalties, just stopped short by the visitors. With the referee growing impatient with the visitors penalty count it was almost inevitable Aspatria would lose a man to the bin, albeit for a high tackle. Justice was swiftly served as a lineout on the left resulted in a series of pick and gos, and it was almost inevitable that Holmes would be the one to find the gap, and go over by the posts for Carlisle's first try, converted by Jason Israel, with 35mins on the clock.

A knock on from the restart allowed Aspatria to gain territory in Carlisle's 22 and some hard running from the Aspatria no 8, supported by his pack pushed Carlisle into some desperate defending. Carlisle did eventually win the ball back near their own try line, yet disaster would follow, when Israel's clearance kick was charged down and the opposition won the race to dot the ball down to narrow the score to 7-5, the conversion out wide falling just past the posts.

Both sides played out the few remaining minutes of the half with little further drama, and Carlisle went into half time deserved, if narrow, leaders at 7-5.

There was no let up in the second half as Carlisle simply pressed on from the restart. Guilty often of being slow starters after the restart, this time Carlisle seemed more determined than ever. Just a few minutes into the second half they tested the visitors defence right across the 22m line until ruck ball out left seemed to have sucked in the defenders. A quick pass out to hooker Tom Graham who, with a glorious side step to beat the clutches of the last defender, then dashed 15m(probably 50m in the bar afterwards), allowing Carlisle to extend their lead by another 7 points, Israel doing the conversion honours. They were well worth the 14-5 lead.

Carlisle continued to pile on the pressure though Aspatria soaked it up. The visitors were often very dangerous on the break and Carlisle had some serious defensive work to do to stop Aspatria crossing the whitewash. However Carlisle just seemed on it today. Even after a clutch of substitutions, the side maintained their cohesiveness.
Eventually Aspatria won a penalty just short of the hour mark, and it was telling that rather than attempt a kick to touch for a line out near the line, they elected for a long range penalty, duly slotted, to reduce the lead to 14-8.
Whilst the home support might have looked nervous about a six point lead over a visiting side that had the potential to put a 7 point score on the board, this Carlisle team played their hearts out. You could see the determination written over their faces that the opposition were not getting past them again. Indeed Carlisle finished the stronger of the sides, camped in the Aspatria 22m when the referee blew for full time.

So Carlisle passed their exam. They had shown that the progress made this season hopefully will translate into a good showing next season, given the quality of the opposition Aspatria provided today. They wanted the win today, and the determination to achieve that, showed throughout the game.
Watched by plenty of sponsors and supporters,nobody could complain that they didn't get value for money, in what was a right good game of rugby, and both sides should be applauded for it.

Penrith await in the final, and on today's showing, Carlisle shouldn't be afraid of them.

Match details

Match date

Sat 24 Feb 2024


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Team Sponsors

Player sponsor - KJW Property Maintenance
Player sponsor - Hayward Tod
Player sponsor - Carlisle Scaffolding
Player sponsor - Apex Electrical
Player sponsor - B&C Builders
Player sponsor - CAES Auto Electrical LTD
Player sponsor - Rachael Bell Wealth Management
Player sponsor - DPD
Player sponsor - Story
Player sponsor - David White Electrical
Player sponsor - The Bridge Inn Dalston
Player sponsor - Helen Arthur Consulting Ltd
Player sponsor - Peter Fulton
Player sponsor - PFK
Player sponsor - Holmes Construction
Player sponsor - Lloyd Motor Group
Player sponsor - Sherlock Associates
1st XV Player Sponsor - Cumbria Clerking Services