Carlisle 15

Blackburn 24

BLACKBURN secured their biggest scalp of the season on an emotional day for director of rugby Dino Radice who dedicated the victory to his rugby-loving brother Mickey who died last week.

Burn moved a step closer to securing a place in the end of season play-offs after beating the North One West leaders - but could still pip them for the title should Carlisle slip up in the remaining five games of the season.

Blackburn are now just six points behind the Cumbria outfit who have lost two of their last three fixtures.

While Radice admitted there are more important things than rugby, he said his brother would have been proud of what Blackburn are doing.

And he also thanked his players for wearing black armbands as a mark of respect.

“Mickey loved his rugby and we played together when we were at Kendal,” said Radice.

“He always popped along to Ramsgreave Drive when he was up from down south and always had a keen interest in Blackburn and he would be very proud of what we are achieving at the moment. This win was for him.

“It has been a very tough few weeks, it has been very emotional but I could not be prouder of the players and the coaches who have been a great help.

“They wore black armbands in memory of Mickey not because they were told to but because they wanted to and that speaks volumes about this group of players and it didn’t surprise me one bit because that is the sort of thing they do for each other, the sort of thing we all do for each other.

“We are having a great season and while that is a lot to do with the talent we have at the club, both in the Firsts and the Seconds, a lot of it is down to the fact they are all mates, all good friends off the pitch.

“They are like a band of brothers and they showed that on Saturday.”

Radice has missed a number of games in recent weeks as he visited his brother but thanked his felllow coaches Greg Nichols, Tom Lavelle and Phil Baines for their efforts.

“Greg, Tom and Phil have been superb,” he added. “And you can add Wayne Thomas and Austin Clarke from the Seconds as well because we are all in this together.

“They have taken the team when I have been away and I will be missing again this weekend as it is Mickey’s funeral on Friday. “But coaching wise, we are a team, it is not about one person, it is about everyone at the club.”

Blackburn had been beaten just once in six games since the turn of the year heading in to the Carlisle clash but this was by far their toughest test in their quest to finish in the top two.

The opening stages of the game were very nip and tuck, however it was Burn who scored first on 12 minutes. From a line out 40 metres out, superb work by Corey Logan and Tom Lavelle allowed Marc Maher to make a half break and his pass found Tom Burtonwood who made it into the 22. Leon Fifield then carried to within five metres of the line and the ball was recycled and Sam Gale’s dive and stretch was just enough to touch down for the try.

After this most of the rest of the half was spent in Burn’s 22 with Carlisle pushing for a try. Penalty after penalty were awarded against Burn, Carlisle didn’t go for kicks, instead they kept pushing for a try, however Burn’s defence frustrated them time after time.

The home side eventually crossed for an unconverted try and the sides were level 5-5 at the break.

But Blackburn were back in the lead a minute after the restart when Gale crossed for his second try.

On 51 minutes Burn scored a third try from a catch and drive. After a few failed attempts to get to the line Corey Logan eventually gathered and went low to score. However, Carlisle hit back with a converted try to move to within two points. But with 15 minutes remaining, Blackburn scored a fourth try to secure the bonus point and ultimately the victory.

Alex Taylorson kicked through and chased his own kick which he managed to regather. But while he was pulled down just a couple of metres from the line, the ball was recycled and Scott Richardson just sneaked in to score.

Leon Fifield then superbly converted well from out wide to seal a triumphant and emotional day for Radice and his players.