Carlisle 15, Wirral 21

AFTER a three week break Wirral were back on the road with a long journey to Carlisle and had to hang onto their lead in the final five minutes as the home side sought a match-winning try but, for once, this season the luck was with Wirral.

The first half saw both sides matching each other defensively with penalties at a minimum with Carlisle having a slight edge and although down to 14 men took the lead in the minutes before half-time with a long range penalty through Grant Connon.

Immediately after the break, by which time Wirral had had to make two changes to the side through injuries, the Carlisle backs put a move together from half way which saw Ed Harper scamper in near the corner flag.

The try was not converted, but gave Carlisle a 8-0 lead.

A good break by Wirral's Matt Ringer took play into the Carlisle 20m area and progress was made towards the whitewash where after several phases Lee Brogan crossed for a try and this was converted by Craig Harvey.

The impetus was now with Wirral and young second row, Fred Clark then powered over from 10m out to score in the corner and with the conversion from the touchline by Craig gave Wirral a 8-14 lead.

A few minutes later this lead was extended to 8-21 with a try from Chris Crowley who after good work by James Reeve cut through the defence to score under the posts giving Craig an easy conversion.

Carlisle then exerted pressure on Wirral and whilst the away side defended magnificently they could not prevent a second Carlisle try and conversion to set up a pulsating final eight minutes as Carlisle tried to score the possible winning try knowing that they had to score near the posts.

Wirral were reduced to 14 men and then Mark Williams had to leave the field after a kick to the scalp left a nasty four-inch cut with difficulty in stemming the blood flow.

Wirral had to bring on an already replaced and bloodied player, Rob Pearl to stem the final onslaught from Carlisle, the defence stood up well until a pass out wide went astray and Chris Crowley was on hand to kick into touch and thus the final whistle went.

This victory is no more deserved to this Wirral side that have lost a number of matches by the odd points and the team fully deserved this hard won victory.