Manchester 24 v Carlisle 34
By Tim Harper
Slow start proves costly again
Manchester 24 v Carlisle 34
Manchester appeared to have had a rather disrupted week and preparation for this top of the table challenge. This was reflected in a somewhat weakened unpublished team taking the field with a couple of key absentees and an initially depleted bench.
This was clearly reflected in Manchester’s slow start: conceding three tries inside 10 minutes with only a single penalty in reply.
They seemed half asleep, and completely outclassed with two simple first phase break-throughs by the lively visiting backs and having been driven back some 30 metres by the Carlisle pack’s driving maul for their third try. A cricket score result seemed almost on the cards.
However, having got over their protracted handling jitters and on only their second visit into the opposition territory, Jay Saena gave a superb inside ball to Mccartney, playing 10, for him to carve through and link with his outside backs giving new recruit Charlie Johnson, on the wing, an easy run-in to round the opposition before coming infield to score. Thus giving an easy conversion for Jay.
This bright interlude didn’t stop Carlisle from replying almost immediately with a converted try of their own after some strong driving play from their centres but the game did at least seem slightly more competitive.
Being comprehensively outscrummaged and under severe pressure in the lineout Manchester managed to hold the score the same to half-time at 10 – 26. This despite Brodie going off for the last 10 minutes.
The second half saw a transformed home team who started to actually work through their phases in the pack and despite the disruption caused by far too many handling errors, eventually provide some good attacking ball, A good run into the opposition half and then a second with a couple of sidesteps saw Jay power his way to the line to bring the score to 17-26.
Manchester started to look increasingly competitive and dangerous. In fact, but for a late tackle after a superb grubber kick through by the same rapidly progressing wing Manchester could have narrowed the gap further almost immediately but sadly the referee missed the somewhat blatant offence.
Midway through the half Doug Day gathered a speculative Carlisle kick and scythed through the visitors defenses, but a simple two on one was squandered and another chance went begging. Such opportunities shouldn’t be missed as they tend to have consequences.
This facet of an error-strewn game unfortunately came home to roost because despite the home side eventually scoring another converted try through Jake Stewart to bring the score to 24-26, this was as close as it got.
Carlisle again employing a dominant maul from lineout to score wide-out to take the score to 24-31. Even the hope of a losing bonus point was denied Manchester as Carlisle kicked a penalty late on to eventually run out winners by 10 points. 24-34.
Manchester should reflect on their lack of preparedness for this game: better organised and with fewer simple errors it was definitely one that got away. Had they started the first half as they started the second a completely different outcome was entirely possible. Still, with Carlisle a step above all other teams in this league, there is room for optimism.