Cougars 20 v Altrincham Kersal 0

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Sunday 7th December 2008

What a difference a venue makes! After a frustrating season to date, the Cougars bagged their first home game, and their first win. Against a team who comprehensively beat them at the start of the season, the turn-around could not have been more dramatic. 

Carlisle got stuck into the match straight away, retaining most of the possession and ground throughout the first quarter. Strong ball carrying from the centres, Katie Harrison and Holly Freestone, and blindside Flanker Laura Cunningham, alongside ferocious tackling from openside Flanker Belinda Lloyd, and fly half Lisa Ritchie, helped secure the early lead for the hosts. A textbook first try came after a massive forward effort up the left wing, creating an overlap in the backs. Quick ball was released out to winger Sarah Carroll, who touched down on the far right. 

At the restart Altrincham were looking to respond quickly, but two try saving tackles by Phillipa Bell, playing out of position at Full Back, held them back. 

The Cougar line outs, usually hit and miss, were clinical, not only  in attack but also successfully disrupting Kersal’s throw-ins. Carlisle were clearly keen to maintain their form as play was pushed back again into the opposition 22. Following a quick tap penalty and more pounding forwards phases, punctuated by a stunning cut back inside by Katie Harrison, Captain Lucy Meadley wrestled her way over the try line and managed to find ground just in time. 

Kersal applied the pressure and made a number of half breaks, but sloppy handling allowed Carlisle to regroup. Scrum half Cindy Little orchestrated the game well, getting quick, clean ball out to the backs and promptly sweeping up any loose ball at the breakdowns. 

After the change of ends superb handling from the backs, combined with great dummy runs from the centres, led to Sarah Carroll scoring her second try of the match with a break away run up the right wing. The Cougars continued to test the Altrincham defence with more forward phases working up the pitch, concluding with Cindy Little diving over from the base of a ruck at the try line, to score the final five points. 

As the light began to fade and the bodies began to tire, Kersal played right up to the final whistle. A couple of half breaks came to nothing thanks to a fresh pair of legs from substitute Simone Lynn, who put in some crucial last minute tackles keeping the Cougars safe from conceding any points in the match. 

Overall this was a good all round performance from the Cougars as noted by Mark Harper, RFUW Club Coach Officer for the North West who said: “The standard of play from both sides was good, but I was very impressed with how Carlisle played, especially the three back row forwards”.

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