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Wednesday, 03 September 2014

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Battle of the unbeatables

ASKAM emerged victorious from the battle of the Furness Coaching Association’s two unbeaten sides in the Kimberly-Clark KO Cup final.

The Villagers and Dalton met for the first time this season on a damp Craven Park, with the boys in green doing the job.

The sides battled for early supremacy, with Askam having the territory and possession to build pressure.

Their efforts saw an overlap created on the right, with Mattie McKee touching down only for Jack Gordon’s pass to the full-back to be judged forward.

Following more possession in the Dalton half, Askam put centre Kieran Walker in the clear and he outpaced the Dalton defence on the outside for the first try. Brad Walker converted for 6-0.

Dalton started to settle and good support play on the right allowed Liam Paisley to burst through and round the defence from 50 metres out, Ryan Johnston adding the extras to level things up.

McKee had another try ruled out as he was judged to have a foot in touch, but Dalton were having to defend for long periods as Askam retained possession.

Strong drives up the middle by the Askam forwards saw scrum-half Joe Satterthwaite put second-rower Danny Wright through a gap and he powered over to score, Brad Walker converting to make it 12-6.

Dalton came back with a series of sets and attacking scrums, but solid defence kept them out.

Askam found their attacking stride with constant pushing from quick play-the-balls and slick distribution from hooker Gordon, supported well by strong hit-ups from Matty Rushton, Iestyn Humphreys and Ben Atkinson, while Joe Satterthwaite and Brad Walker linked the forwards with the outside backs. Pressure told when loose forward Grady Slater broke through on the wide right and sped round the Dalton defence to score under the posts, giving Brad Walker an easy conversion, 18-6.

Askam then scored the try of the game straight from the restart, with the half almost done.

They kept the ball alive from deep in their own half with some good offloads and support.

Gordon and stand-off Brad Walker combined well on the halfway line, before the stand-off found Kieran Walker with a superb long pass.

The centre caught the ball in full stride and rounded the covering Dalton defence to finish an impressive 80-metre play.

Brad Walker added the two and Askam went in at the break leading 24-6.

Dalton lifted their game in the second half, their forwards measuring up against the Askam pack with strong running from props Scott Beattie and Wayne Bibby, second rower Tyler Bircher and strong-running Liam Paisley at 13, and good distribution from stand-off Ryan Johnston.

However, they struggled to break through as Askam defended well and then added to their lead, Slater going over for his second on the right, 28-6.

Dalton reasserted themselves and Corey Barker went under the posts from close range, Johnston adding the conversion.

The Black and Whites continued to enjoy a good share of possession, but it was Askam who scored next following a strong 50-metre run down the middle from impressive prop Rushton.

That set up a high cross-field kick from Brad Walker and back-rower Jack Cairns out-jumped the defence with an impressive take and touched down to the right of the posts, Brad Walker again adding the two points for 34-12.

Kieran Walker completed his hat-trick as he went in under the posts to make it 40-12 after good hands from Aiden Wright, Jack Cairns and Mark Bennett.

Dalton ended the game with pressure on the Askam line and quick thinking from a tap penalty saw hooker Joe Crarey go over on the right. Johnston just missed the conversion as the final whistle blew.

Stand-off Johnston took the Dalton man-of-the-match award, with Brad Walker claiming the Askam gong, pushed closely by the busy Gordon, Kieran Walker and Slater, in a great team effort and performance.

The game was controlled well by referee Curtly Etchells and touch judges Julian Dixon and Terry Bewley.

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