Blackpool maintained their unbeaten start to 2018 with victory in an end-to-end contest in Cumbria.
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Blackpool were missing several players but started strongly. However, Kirkby’s scrambling defence and some passes not sticking kept the game tryless in the early stages.
The visitors were then pressed into defensive duties as Kirkby, aided by a number of penalties, laid siege to the Blackpool line, though try-saving tackles from Anthony Clark, Gordon Richmond and Chris Moore kept them at bay.
Blackpool broke the deadlock when Adam Glover collected a loose Kirkby pass and his excellent long ball sent Ashley Swarbrick sprinting down the wing for a 75-metre try. The home side hit back, exploiting a series of penalties for a converted try.
Blackpool stepped up a gear and regained the lead when Kyle Bedford peeled away from a powerful scrum to smash through and score, James Carty adding the conversion.
The lead was extended when strong carries from Pete Wilkinson and Callum Reid paved the way for Mick Harrison to rampage over, Carty again adding the extras.
The last action of the half saw Kirkby boost their hopes with a penalty try and Blackpool reduced to 14 men for denying a scoring opportunity.
Determined defence by Chris Parlour, Luke Crosbie and Russell Woodward kept the hosts out until Blackpool returned to a full compliment.
Second row pair Greg Jones and Tristan Ainscough made great yards, laying the platform for Clark to send Bedford over for his second try, Carty adding a third conversion.
The game turned into a war of attrition as Blackpool lost Carty and Harrison to injuries.
Kirkby narrowed the margin with a converted try, then scored again for a 28-26 lead.
But Blackpool roared back as good work by replacements Dave Donald and Manasa Walevu laid the platform for Swarbrick to dive in at the corner for his second try as play swept wide.
Backs to the wall defence – Parlour, Glover and Richmond were all at the fore –enabled Blackpool to hold on and become only the second side to win at Kirkby this season.
Two-try Bedford was named man of the match for Blackpool, who host Bolton in Saturday’s top of the table clash.
Blackpool: Wilkinson, Parlour, Harrison, Jones, Ainscough, Woodward, Reid, Bedford, Crosbie, Glover, Moore, Carty, Clark, Swarbrick, Richmond; Replacements: Walevu, Donald, Worrall