Cougars v Sheffield

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The lack of regular competitive matches is showing tell-tale signs in the Cougars. Admittedly, circumstances did not favour the visitors, with dubious refereeing, a long bus journey and Siberian-like winds to contend with. The large number of inexperienced players has, of course, a part to play too, but if the last roaring twenty minutes of all their matches is anything to go by, it really shouldn’t! This old Cougar habit is taking a long time to die-hard!

The first try for Sheffield came very early on, but the missed conversion took the edge off this initial sting, further softened by a well aimed penalty kick from Fly-half Lisa Ritchie moments later. The points offered the team a psychological boost and a little relief, short-lived though this was. Sideline support from Carlisle U18 Emma Sutton and physio Ness Galbraith would prove invaluable.

Sheffield fielded a pacey and opportunistic team who reacted better to loose ball and applied the pressure in defence more convincingly. Carlisle lacked structure, particularly in defence leaving gaps for unforgiving opposition wingers and centres to storm through. Questionable, and at times dangerous, tactics in the scrums and handling in the rucks from Sheffield went unchecked and simply exacerbated the visitors’ problems. There was a whiff of panic about Carlisle when scoring seemed possible which led to some silly and crucial mistakes. By contrast, Sheffield kept their heads and by half time the visitors were trailing.

The start of the second half saw little notable change from either side. In spite of some great breaks made by Centre Laura Cunningham (Coaches Player), superb ball carrying by Captain Lucy Meadley (Player’s Player) and consistently solid support from Hooker Sarah Burns, Carlisle just couldn’t seem to finish it off. Injuries continued to halt play, fortunately to the detriment of the winning side who seemed to be easing off. 

In the dying stages of the match, right on cue, Carlisle bounced back with two classic tries, both from Meadley, and within as many minutes. The first came at the end of a long sequence of rucks pounding along the Sheffield try line, which finally yielded a gap for the loosehead prop to bulldoze through and score just left of the posts. 

At the restart, one phase of play saw the ball shipped back to Meadley in her own half who, with an almost magnetic pull to the same spot on the opposition try line, stormed all the way up the pitch to single-handedly add another spectacular five points to the board. Unfortunately, the energy this visibly sent through the team came, yet again, all too late and the sound of the final whistle is fast becoming the most disappointing sound to any Cougar ear. 

The next game is the first home fixture against York on Sunday 30th November at 2.15. All support welcome. Contact the Cougars on carlislecougars@hotmail.co.uk for information.

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