Dalton Dragons 34 Kells 6

DALTON under-16s capped a great season by completing the double with a fine win in the Cumbria Cup final to go alongside lifting the North West Youth League Division One title.

The Dragons triumphed 34-6 over Cumberland League runners-up Kells in Sunday’s final at a wet and windy Redwaters.

Defences were on top in the early exchanges as both sides got to grips with the testing conditions.

Gradually more Dalton pressure gave them good field position, with props Cameron Hethrington and Euan Costa making strong drives.

Some kick pressure from Sam Purslow forced the Kells stand-off to kick early and this was caught by Dalton full-back Pat Kelly.

He neatly side-stepped the on-rushing Kells players and raced through a gap to go a full 50 metres and cross under the posts. Kelly knocked over the conversion to give Dalton a 6-0 lead.

Kells responded with some good drives from props Garner and Barwise, but Dalton defended well with Jack Crarey and Zac Steel keeping the defensive line firm.

Kells kept the ball alive on the fifth tackle as they probed for a gap in the Dalton defence, and a last-chance kick to the right edge saw Kells centre Fleming collect the ball from a bounce and score, with Starkie converting.

Dalton again built more pressure and started to play good rugby. An infringement at the play ball saw Kelly convert the penalty for Dalton to regain the lead.

And right from the kick-off Dalton winger Josh Grant took a great kick return into Kells’ half and quick hands from Elliot Stockdale and Harry Gordon fed Brad Richards, and he barged over wide on the left.

Kelly converted a difficult kick from the touchline to increase Dalton’s lead.

With half-time approaching Dalton again built good field position, with Jack Stephenson and Devon Hartley running hard, and after a high tackle Kelly converted the resultant penalty for Dalton to go in at half-time leading by 10 points at 16-6. Kells started the second half showing real purpose, but Dalton’s defence was equal to the task. Both sides conceded possession cheaply as the conditions began to take its toll. Dalton’s forward pack worked hard to gain field position with Stephenson and Steel making strong runs.

As Kells organised their defence on the try-line, a quick thinking Crarey dived over from dummy half, with Kelly converting.

Dalton started to take a hold on the game and Kells were struggling to stop the momentum, with forwards Hetherington, Hartley and Costa creating good field position.

Another drive from winger Niall Cush and then Evan Jones saw scrum-half Gordon chip over the Kells defence for Zac Milby to gather and race clear to score under the posts, with Kelly converting.

Kells appeared to be tiring and Dalton stepped up a gear, with Gordon and Stockdale dictating the play again, and some neat hands saw Steel drive a good 30 metres into the Kells half.

Adam Cartmel and then Corey Milby continued the drive to get to the Kells 10-metre line.

From the play ball quick hands from Gordon put Steel through a gap and he crashed over to score a well-deserved try, with Kelly converting for a magnificent seven out of seven kicks.

At the final whistle Daltons players were elated at adding the Cumbria Cup to the North West Counties Division One title they had secured two weeks previous, and celebrated with their management team of Dave High and Ian Gordon.

Dalton scrum-half Harry Gordon took the official man of the match award, but must have been ran close by outstanding loose forward Zac Steele and nerveless full-back Pat Kelly.

Dalton: Kelly, Jones, Cartmel, Purslow, Grant, Stockdale, Gordon, Hethrington, Crarey, Costa, Richards, Stephenson, Steel, Cush, Z Milby, Hartley, C Milby.

Kells: Taylor, Selkirk, Fleming, Grears, Fox, Starkie, J Ennis, Outhwaite, W Ennis, Garner, Barwise Chambers, Hutton, Adorman, Irvine, Elliot.