Published in Thirteen
1995-96 Regal Trophy
Carlisle Border Raiders v Castleford
Gillford Park, Carlisle
In 1995 Gillford Park witnessed one of rugby league’s big shocks when Carlisle Border Raiders knocked top-flight Castleford out of the Regal Trophy.
With Welsh international Barry Williams making his usual impact off the bench, veteran full back Willie Richardson at his best and former Manly hooker Danny Russell directing operations from dummy-half, Carlisle scored the only second half points culminating in the winning drop goal by Mike “Bluey” Kavanagh.
Cas, boasting international quality such as Graham Steadman, Dean Sampson, Brendon Tuuta and Tawera Nikau, led 18-10 with tries to Chris Smith, Nikau and Jason Flowers in reply to Gary Ruddy’s opener and Williams’s try on 30 minutes.
Richardson’s penalty reduced the deficit to six points 15 minutes into the second half before a Steadman knock-on gave the Raiders the field position to send Stewart Rhodes under the posts. 18-18.
Kavanagh won the game with his drop goal with eight minutes left. Carlisle coach Paul Charlton thought they had gone for the one point too soon but the decision was vindicated as the Raiders held their illustrious opponents out to earn a famous win.
A couple of years later, Castleford’s Chris Smith won Super League with St Helens, Tawera Nikau won the NRL with Melbourne Storm and Dean Sampson played for Great Britain in 1997.
But, by then, Carlisle Border Raiders were no more. The club which had fielded players of the calibre of Dean Bell and Clayton Friend bizarrely ‘merged’ with Barrow Braves in 1997 in a move that has seen not one game of professional rugby league played in the city since.
The Centurions were formed in 2002 and after a highly successful first season in the North West division of the Rugby League Conference in 2003 have since struggled with the arduous journeys of National League 3 and earlier this season withdrew from the competition.
CARLISLE: Willie Richardson; Gary Ruddy, Jason Thurlow, Matt Lynch, Phil Manning; Glenn Day, Mike Kavanagh; Steve Brierley, Danny Russell, Warren Rudd, Stewart Rhodes, George Graham, Tane Manihera. Subs: Derek Armstrong & Barry Williams
CASTLEFORD:Graham Steadman; Chris Smith, Jason Flowers, Adrian Flynn, Simon Middleton; Jamie Coventry, Gareth Stephens; Dean Sampson, Colin Maskill, Nathan Sykes, Lee Harland, Brendon Tuuta, Tawera Nikau. Subs: Andrew Schick & Stuart Flowers