The floodlights were switched on for kick off on a grey Cumbrian afternoon and on a pitch where the going was good to soft the first scoring opportunity fell to the Vale but stand off Jack Turton’s penalty effort fell short after what has been described by one the Vale’s travelling supporters as an “awesome scrum.”
After absorbing Vale’s initial probing Carlisle began to move the ball around with increasing confidence and in the 11th minute their prodigious point’s scorer, stand off Glen Weightman, kicked a penalty goal.
In the 13th minute Vale’s devotes had something to cheer about when the league’s leading try scorer Nick Royle sprinted away for his 27th of the season after the forwards had secured quality line out ball and the backs had swiftly moved it from right to left.
The half ended with Carlisle in the ascendancy and this theme continued in the opening minutes of the second forty and to the delight of their fans they regained the lead after six minutes.
A solid platform was provided by the Carlisle eight, churning deep in Vale’s twenty two with an effective scrum and when the ball was released crisp passing allowed full back Damien Armstrong to streak through a hole for a try converted by Weightman.
Despite the early buffeting the Vale regrouped, Turton kicked a penalty in the 51st minute and coach Woodward brought on fresh legs, with hooker Simon Harrison quickly into the action and announcing his arrival with a thundering tackle.
Another of the replacements David Haigh also made an impact with a try in the 59th minute.
Playing on the left wing he purposefully set off in pursuit of a kick ahead. A single minded, powerful charge was rewarded with an unconverted try.
As the game moved into the final quarter tempers began to boil over, a couple of swinging fists was the excuse for a few scores to be settled before referee Denvir stepped in to cool things down.
With three minutes remaining a Carlisle surge produced a penalty which Weightman kicked to loud cheers.
Silence however descended three minutes later when from a swirling, body popping move the Vale forwards had muscled a penalty out of Carlisle.
Victory hung on the successful kick from Turton but even though there appeared to be some semaphoring from the touch judges as they tracked the flight of the ball the referee would have none of it and declared the ball had not bisected the uprights, with the result confirming the Vale’s third drawn game of the season.