Cougars 36 v Darlington 5

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29th March 2009

The Cougars claimed their fifth league match victory at the weekend with a comprehensive win over visitors Darlington. The away leg of the meeting back in dreary, cold November was a close run thing, seeing the North East outfit claim a 15-5 win. However, it seems the two month gap in the league fixtures did well to whet the home side’s appetite as the Cumbrian side came out of the blocks with a vengeance.

The first points of the match went to the Cougars only minutes after the kick off courtesy of Captain and prop Lucy Meadley who crashed her way through the Darlington defence to touchdown in the far left.  A second try should have come sooner for the home side, but they made hard work of it with one too many forward phases, often resulting in turn over balls. The visitors had an undeniable physical advantage over Carlisle, but their complacent defence and clumsy handling accounted for their inability to capitalise fully on this. 

Carlisle continued to threaten a try, with some fantastic break away runs from inside centre Laura Cunningham, who ran half the pitch but was denied the last two metres as a desperate Darlington hastily regrouped on their try line. Similarly, some great reactionary play from hooker Sarah Burns who collected the overthrows at line outs clinically and fought her way up the pitch, only to be denied the last few steps over the try line. A third attempt proved the more successful, as Meadley stripped the ball out of an attacking maul, the last phase of a relentless attack on the visitors and managed to make the last two metres the others had been denied. Fly half Lisa Ritchie added with the conversion

Darlington looked like they might come back at the restart when the ball got out to their wing who was tackled by full back Simone Lynne just before the try line but not before the pop up to her supporting runner who finished it off with the dive over the try line. A lengthy battle for territory was slogged out in the midfield until Carlisle slowly shifted the visitors back into their half and claimed a penalty scrum under the sticks. After a couple of hard won forward phases, quick ball out to the backs sent straight along the line saw debut winger Jenny Royston (Player’s Player) steam up the touchline, narrowly missing the tackle into touch to score in the corner. Ritchie’s boot further boosted the points board and closed the first half.

After the break, the Cougars continued to dominate territory and test the Darlington defence. The rugby from both sides became more aggressive, with each side competing meaningfully for the ball at each breakdown and particularly in the line outs, where flanker Belinda Lloyd did well to steal a number of their throw ins. The fourth try for Carlisle came after a break away run from Cunningham up the left side of the pitch who popped the ball back inside to support runner Sarah Elsy who touched down just left of the posts. Ritchie continued to add.

The Cougars began to organise their attacking strategy better, with ball being shipped out to the pacy backs must faster to exploit their advantage fully. A midfield scrum just inside the opposition half began the fifth foray over the Darlington try line, with a pick go from the No. 8 that drew the defence back in and left an overlap on the wing for Royston to score her second try in the far right hand corner.

The Cougars didn’t ease off as the clock counted down, even though the match was all but won. A final try came after a rattled Darlington struggled to stave off the unremitting pounding from the Cougar attack which eventually opened up a gap just under their posts that winger Steph Musgrave dived though to score. Ritchie converted to add the final points of the match.

Carlisle move to third place in the league after the win and are looking forward to carrying this victory over into their next home league match against Ormskirk Sunday 5th April, k.o. 2.30pm. All support welcomed! If you wish to find out more about the Cougars please call 07912110785.

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