WEST Park made the long journey into Cumbria to play unbeaten league leaders Kirkby Lonsdale, at what is surely one of the most picturesque grounds in the North of England.
On a bright breezy afternoon in front of a large home crowd and a few hardy souls who had made the trip from St Helens, Park remained hopeful they could repeat their performance in the closely fought home fixture earlier in the season.
However the game did not start well for the visitors, already disrupted by some late changes, Park were on the receiving end of three penalties in quick fire succession which allowed the home side an attacking line out from which a catch and drive resulted in a penalty try, and Park prop Kimberley being sent to the sin bin.
This seemed particularly harsh so early in the game and with no warning and also later in the half when the home side used similar tactics to prevent a Park try.
During the sin bin period the home side scored two further tries to take an early 19 – 0 lead, Park then had some possession and on the back of a quick tap penalty by scrum half Smith, the outside backs Hill and Pape combined well and were unfortunate not to score, similarly an excellent break by centre Basley was unrewarded due to some excellent home defence.
However as the half progressed some poor ball retention when Park has decent field position and weak defence when under pressure allowed Kirkby to run in a further 5 tries to make the score 46-0 to the home side at half time.
Park started the second half much better with more determination both at the breakdown and in defence however again on the back of some inconsistent decisions at the breakdown Kirkby gained good field position and scored again, Park made some changes with Williams on for Sterry at hooker and Rosney on for Berry in the backs and this provided some stability for a period, however Kirkby ran in a further three tries with a good period of the game remaining and whilst the home side reduced their intensity the visitors showed good determination in defence for the final part of the game and this is the type of attitude they will need in the coming weeks. Despite the result there was still some very good individual performances from younger members of the team winger Matt Appleton in particular who made a high number of tackles and ran the ball out of defence with skill and determination and likewise second row Kurt Riley made a number of carries and never shirked the physical challenge of the Kirkby forwards and both will learn and develop further from this experience.
Kirkby Lonsdale are an excellent team and play the game in a very positive and attractive way and should be congratulated on what should be a league winning season.
They play the type of game West Park aspire to play and with the right level of application and effort Park’s young squad can retain their current league status and develop a similar style in future seasons.
This challenge starts with a home fixture next week against Vale Of Lune with a potential 2pm KO due to International scheduled for later in the day