Blackburn 12 Keswick 7

BLACKBURN coach Dino Radice has urged his players not to give up on their hopes of reaching the end-of-season play-offs.

The Ramsgreave Drive side slipped down to third place and out of the play-off places in North Lancs Cumbria Division despite beating Keswick 12-7 on Saturday.

Rivals Eccles now occupy second place on points difference alone following their win at Upper Eden.

But with a game in hand, the Manchester side remain favourites to take second spot behind Bolton who have a six-point lead.

But Radice, whose team made it three wins on the trot after surviving Keswick’s second half fightback, says Blackburn remain well and truly in the play-off mix.

“I have been delighted with the way we have played this season,” said Radice. “We have worked very hard to get in to the position we are in and now it is up to us to see the job through.

“Eccles are in a good position at the moment but there could be a few more twists and turns to come so we have to make sure we are in a position to take advantage should they slip up.”

Blackburn stuttered at the turn of year, losing at leaders Bolton and going down at home to Eccles.

But Burn gained immediate revenge over Eccles, winning 24-17 the following weekend, and despite suffering a shock defeat to struggling Fleetwood, victories against Littleborough, Tarleton and now Keswick has seen them remain in the fight for the play-offs – and the possibility of playing in National League Three North next season.

Blackburn, where Chris Lowden has again been an inspirational captain, have recruited well this season bringing in Matt Hughes from Preston Grasshoppers, Lee Acton and Mark Briggs from Fylde.

They have blended in with the club’s homegrown talent, none more so that Sam Parkinson who has been one of the players of the season so far.

“Sam has been great for us this year,” added Radice. “He’s a Blackburn boy and the club means a lot to him. He is an exceptional flanker but he has been playing as an emergency hooker for us.”

Against Keswick, Blackburn started strongly but failed to take advantage as Sam Morgan missed two early penalty kicks at goal.

However, Burn’s pressure finally told when from a catch and drive lineout, Matt Hughes joined the line to race through a gap to score. Rob Melling then scored a second try, the left winger coming off his flank to score in righthand corner.

Morgan converted to make it 12-0 at the break.

Keswick hit back after the break but could on manage a converted try and Blackburn held on to win 12-7.