Kirkby Lonsdale 23-15 Blackburn

Action from Kirkby Londale's game with Blackburn.
Action from Kirkby Londale's game with Blackburn.

Blackburn had made a hot start to their season with three wins out of their first four games, including a home victory over title chasing Blaydon.

However, they ran into a roasting welcome from a strong Kirkby squad at an overcast but benign Underley Park on Saturday.

Blackburn were a little unfortunate to lose a player to a yellow card for a technical offence after four minutes and Kirkby took advantage of the extra man with a period of pressure in the visitors’ 22m and through phases advanced towards the line.

Scrum half Ben Walker spotted a gap in the defence and with a typically sniping run was through it to score by the posts, Mike Fearon tapping over the conversion for a 7-0 lead with nine minutes played.

Kirkby again didn’t deal with the Blackburn restart when the ball was allowed to bounce, it popped up into visitors’ hands and it was backs to the wall defence again as Blackburn charged forward.

An injury to their No.12 Phil Baines saw him helped off the pitch but he’d hardly sat down before his replacement Jacob Mchugh went over for a well-taken try, the conversion was missed but the visitors were on the board at 7-5 as the first quarter drew to a close.

On 23 minutes, Kirkby missed a penalty when Blackburn didn’t roll away from a tackle but two minutes later they were more successful when the visiting hooker Oliver Trippier was yellow carded for an offence on the ground, Fearon slotting the kick to advance the score to 10-5.

Blackburn then butchered a try when all they had to do was pick up and score but they dropped the ball crossing the line and Kirkby cleared from the scrum.

It was then Kirkby’s turn to see yellow when Fearon was sin binned for what the referee adjudged a no arms tackle.

With 37 minutes on the clock Blackburn kicked the penalty and it was 10-8 when the whistle went to end a pretty evenly matched first half.

Seven minutes into the second half and there was more yellow for Blackburn when their No.8 Sam Gale was their third player to get the wrong side of the referee.

The restored Fearon slotted this penalty from around 30m to take Kirkby’s lead to 13-8 and they extended this 10 minutes later when from just inside his own half Scott Armstrong booted a huge penalty to touch near the left corner flag to set up an attacking position.

Kirkby caught their lineout and drove repeatedly, eventually creating a little space for excellent prop Dan Thompson to crash over by the corner flag, the touchline conversion was just wide but Kirkby had something of a handle on the game at 18 -8.

Kirkby did miss a penalty when Blackburn dropped a scrum in a kickable position but they welded the handle on with a Harry Huddleston try in the left corner, again the touchline kick was just wide but the score was 23-8 with 10 minutes to play.

In time added on, Blackburn did cross for their second try but the successful conversion was the last kick of the game, Kirkby ran out worthy winners at 23-15 and with an eight point gap Blackburn went home pointless.

There were four yellow cards in the game and Blackburn won this three to one but it was never an attritional affair, both sides competed hard but in good spirits.