Cougars v Darlington 2nd Nov

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After three unusually hot match Sundays, the Cougars took on Darlington in more traditional and familiar rugby playing weather – cold, wet and muddy. Welcome to the East. Hoping to begin the match as they finished against Scunthorpe two weeks before, the attacking line stood ready and hungry at the kick-off for the next eighty minutes. It was an aggressive start right from the off with the Cougars pushing and keeping Darlington in their own twenty-two for the opening phases of play. Flanker Belinda Lloyd (Coach’s Player) and Prop Lucy Meadley (Captain) applied unremitting pressure at the breakdowns winning turn-over ball and forcing the penalties. The general pattern of the game emerged very early on with a heavy forward focus, frustrating the Cougar backs who saw very little, if any, ball during the first half. This favoured the home team who packed a sizeable and at times surprisingly speedy first eight, that presented the Cougars with a few difficulties in the scrums. An opening try for the visitors seemed in touching distance, but a conceded penalty saw the clearance kick shunt play back to midfield and with the loss of ground, so too went the sense of urgency from the Carlisle lot. Soon after this first unfruitful storm of the Darlington defence the Cougars seemed to shift down into second gear, easing off the pressure, failing to exploit some gaping opposition weaknesses and capitalise on their own back line strengths. The hosts broke through a somewhat fractured defensive line and scored two of their three tries as a result. 

 

Marred by a number of injuries, substitutions were made at the break most notably with Holly Freestone making her debut for the Cougars in the centres. Bringing her League experience to great profit she exploded through the gaps at each opportunity creating some much needed space and ground for the backs to finally move through. Other changes included Laura Cunningham (Player’s Player) who moved from the centres to flank in the second half shutting down her opposite number and their kicker at each defensive scrum. Taking inspiration from this and some exemplary die-hard tactics and exceptional tackling, true to form, the Cougar spirit was resuscitated for the last quarter. This was duly rewarded with a try that came from a relentless onslaught of the Darlington line, drawing in their players and leaving the left wing wide open for Belinda Lloyd to score. The final score rested at 15-5 to the hosts.

The Cougars next match will be their first home game against Ormskirk ( 2.15p.m. kick-off) support for which is always appreciated.

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