Purdham filled with pride as Cumbria put England to test
Cumbria 18 England 18
They will not exactly be quaking in their boots in the Antipodes at the score from Whitehaven, even though the England coach, Steve McNamara, insisted that it was not an embarrassment on the eve of departure for the Four Nations.
"I'm not embarrassed at all," he insisted. "We achieved what we wanted to achieve by giving people game time."
Embarrassing or not, an intriguing contest was less valuable as a pointer to events in Australia and New Zealand than as a celebration of the life of Garry Purdham. The former Whitehaven and Workington forward was one of the victims of the Cumbria shootings this summer and a record crowd for a county match packed the ground to raise money for his wife and children.
Although that cause is close to the heart of Garry's brother, the Cumbria captain, Rob Purdham, he also saw it as a stimulus for rugby league on its North-west frontier. "We ought to make it an annual event," he said. "We've shown we can put on a match and make it a tough test."
Although England took the lead with a try set up by a strong break by Joe Westerman, one of their obvious successes, Tony Clubb's score did not start the anticipated landslide. Kyle Amor barged over after Paul Sykes' drop-out cleared the touchline and Purdham's kick tied the scores, before Garreth Carvell put England ahead at half-time.
England still led when Richie Myler, trying to stake a claim to what looks suspiciously like a vacant scrum-half shirt, went through some uncharacteristically weak tackling. Justice was done, however, when Scott McAvoy made a 40-metre gallop and Gregg McNally landed the conversion from wide out.
Purdham glowed with pride but warned against reading too much into the result. "It will be a different team in the Four Nations," he said. It will need to be, but with the four Super Semi-finalists to draw upon, McNamara's squad today will be considerably more formidable in Wellington than in Whitehaven.
Cumbria Broadbent; Gardner, Mossop, McAvoy, Sharpe; Purdham, Campbell; Dowes, Pedley, Amor, McDermott, Miller, Wilkes. Substitutes used Mattinson, Hill, McNally, Coward, Frazer, Low, Brocklebank, Davis.
England Riley; Fox, Shenton, Clubb, Briscoe; Sykes, Myler; Lynch, Higham, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Westerman, Westwood, Langley. Substitutes used Atkins, Carvell, Scruton, Harrison, Murrell, Broughton.
Referee P Bentham (Warrington).
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