With not one of the players remarking on how clean the Furness minibus was looking, off it went on the 102 mile journey to Silloth with club president Mallinson at the wheel ably assisted by club chairman Reid on navigating duties. 75 miles or so into the journey Mallinson was developing an uncomfortably hot arse and there was a strange aroma pervading the cabin. This wasn't what you might think -
Furness had the better of the opening exchanges and it was against the run of play when the Silloth 11, who was a danger all day, ran in unopposed from the half way line. A successful conversion gave Silloth a 7 point lead after 5 minutes. 5 minutes later Furness gifted the same player another try, this time unconverted. 2 minutes after that, following a Furness knock on 22 metres out, Silloth were first to a speculative grubber making it 3 tries in less than 10 minutes. With the conversion Silloth 19 Furness 0 after 12 minutes.
At last Furness started to get the long journey out of their legs and after 15 minutes, Joe Mallinson playing out of position in the centre, went over after a good Furness move. His conversion attempt narrowly missed! Furness were by now starting to get their hands on the ball and none were looking more dangerous than 49 year old prop Paul Dean, moving with the speed and grace of a Northern Rail locomotive. New recruit Ryan Potgeiter was showing up well in the second row and the scrum was looking solid. After 30 minutes the Silloth captain was binned for persistent infringing having been warned by the referee a few minutes earlier. Curiously Furness chose to tap the resulting penalty, 10 metres out, when perhaps a scrum might have been the better choice with the home side a man down. Unfortunately Furness were unable to make their numerical advantage count and at half time the score remained at Silloth 19 Furness 5.
No sooner had the second half got under way than the heavily tattooed and spectacularly bequiffed Silloth scrum half was sent to the bin to join his team mate. Mallinson made no mistake with the resulting penalty -
Poor positional kicking and an abundance of basic errors by both sides were the only notable features of the following 10 minutes with neither side gaining the upper hand. The game came back to life when it appeared that the Silloth 9 had forced his way over the line only for the referee to rule that Furness wingman Ryan Cunningham had held him up. From the resulting play Furness went almost the whole length of the pitch with captain Corne Els barging his way towards the Silloth line. His attempt to follow his kick through was impeded, seemingly unseen by the referee, and with Furness slow to regroup Silloth took full advantage with their 14 going over in the corner. The Furness response was immediate, with 49 year old Furness stand off Steve 'PG' Neale showing blistering pace in following up his own kick through to touch down near the sticks. Mallinson's conversion attempt once again narrowly missed! Silloth 24 Furness 13.
With both teams starting to tire errors began creeping into the play again and the game ended with a further Silloth try following a loose Furness clearance and some half hearted tackling. Final score Silloth 31 Furness 13. A pretty good effort from an under strength Furness side, particularly when you take into account that Furness had one man on the bench and Silloth had 8, all of whom were used!
With the RAC having provided a new battery at a cost of £125 the journey home was notable only for the bladder weakness of many of the team. Furness have a week off next Saturday with the first league game the following Saturday at Upper Eden. There's a lot of work to do but there is a feeling of optimism in the squad and there's no reason why we can't give a good account of ourselves in the weeks to come.