Carnforth 50-16 Vale of Lune 4s

Dan Blenkharn led Carnforth to the league and shield double on Saturday.
Dan Blenkharn led Carnforth to the league and shield double on Saturday.

Carnforth rattled their way to victory at Kellet Road against the Vale of Lune to not only lift the Andrew Crowe Memorial Shield but also ensure they gained promotion from Division Five North as champions.

There was some consolation for the visitors who finish as runners-up in the league meaning they will also be promoted.

In a fast-moving game played in front of a large crowd the home side trailed at half time 16-0, but when they then upped the tempo and exposed cracks in a fragile Vale defence which conceded eight tries.

However, the first half belonged to the Vale who opened the scoring in the first minute when Leon Gierke charged down a kick, the number ten was the first to react, racing after the ball to collect his try which he also converted.

Six minutes later Gierke kicked a penalty goal after sustained Vale pressure. Carnforth slowly blew the cobwebs away and came back into the game.

Probing runs from Ollie Braithwaite, Joe Harrison, skipper Dan Blenkharn and Nick Hamer hinted at their potential.

Gierke kicked a penalty goal in the 24th-minute as the Vale continued to deny Carnforth and decent ball to work with however.

Craig Smith won valuable line out ball, Stuart Hatton was in the thick of the action, centre Matt Thackray always posed a threat with his straight line running and captain Paul Scott was always up in support.

As the half drew to a close centre Richard Dewar was held up short of the line, prop Gavin Speak proved difficult to not only halt but to bring to ground and although Carnforth’s defenders did managed to wrap themselves around him they did it illegally, Gierke kicked the resultant penalty in the second minute of injury time.

The Vale will maybe feel they should have amassed more points in the opening period as before the hour mark their lead had been swept away.

Carnforth’s revival began in the fourth minute when Hamer raced away for a try after Carnforth had trapped the Vale straight from the kick off. Full back Matthew Short converted to put his side into the fast lane.

In the 47th-minute flanker Jason Short breezed his way through tackles in a solo run, his try being converted Matthew Short.

Suddenly the writing was on the wall for the Vale.

Matthew Short took full advantage of some suspect Vale tackling to touch down wide out on the left for an unconverted try in the 60th minute.

There was no respite for the Vale because Carnforth disappeared further down the line three minutes later when centre Jack Edmondson blasted through tackles to touch down between the posts, Matthew Short converted.

With the Vale’s fault lines growing ever wider the Carnforth pack took a scrum against the head, the ball was moved efficiently wide in a polished move that ended with centre Harrison gliding between the posts in the 69th minute, Matthew Short again obliged.

It was all pretty much one-way traffic, isolated Vale attacks petered out and they were quickly thrown back into the trenches. Edmondson scored a second try in the 74th minute identical to his earlier on, but Matthew Short missed the conversion from in front.

Two further Carnforth tries were scored in the space of the closing three minutes. A chip from wing forward Graham Rich surprised the Vale but the first react to the gift was winner Kieron Morgan who gobbled up his try on the right which was not converted.

Morgan completed the scoring with a dazzling solo run, Matthew Short’s conversion bringing up the half century to confirm a comprehensive victory for Carnforth.

Carnforth: M Short; P Metcalfe, J Edmondson, J Harrison, K Morgan, N Hamer, K Hardy, J Waterhouse, K Lovering, S Mallett, O Braithwaite, S Tomlinson, J Short, G Rich, D Blenkharn (capt). Replacements: R Whittaker, D Winning, M Makinson.

Vale of Lune 4ths: P McAllister, J Horne, R Dewar, M Thackray, J Knowles, L Gierke, G Berry, A Stead, J Whitty, G Speak, D Harrison, C Smith, P Scott (capt), S Hatton, P Morris. Replacements: B Murphy, S Middlehurst, N Baxter, A Brown, A Downey.