Cougars v Morpeth 8th March

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The Cougars played away to Morpeth last Sunday in a friendly that was organised to fill the gap between league matches. Conditions were perfect for hard, fast rugby with a nice firm pitch, streams of sunshine undercut by the customary bitter North East wind and a few match stipulations. Unfortunately, for the Carlisle outfit, the scrums were uncontested, which at least allowed for a speedier forward match but denied Carlisle the chance to show their authority at the set piece.

The first half got underway immediately with the Cougars taking the game to the home team. A try from Captain Lucy Meadley (nominated by Morpeth as Player of the Match) in the first five minutes stamped an early marker on proceedings. Inside Centre Lisa Ritchie converted to add the points. The Cougars dominated possession and territory throughout the first quarter, denying Morpeth the chance to get out of their own twenty and relentlessly testing their defence. 

At the restart, another foray into the opposition half began a series of forward phases that pushed further up the pitch towards the try line and committed the Morpeth defence. The Cougars looked for gaps out wide but were forced back into traffic The gap that eventually opened up was exploited again by Meadley scoring right of the posts.

A momentary lapse of concentration from the visitors was seized on by the home team who were beginning to wake up and look for revenge. Swift ball out to their speedy winger saw their first try sail past a trailing Carlisle side moments after the restart. The conversion began to close the gap on the scoreboard. When the pressure was on, Carlisle looked threatening, but it was a laborious task at times. More should have been made of the acres of space out on the wings created by some clever and dominant forward play. Most notably, Hooker, Katie Wilson and Lock Emma Dudley (both Coach’s Players) put in some solid work at the break downs and grafted all day to provide quick clean ball for Scrum Half Jenny Postlethwaite. A third try before the break for Carlisle saw blindside flanker Laura Cunningham (Players player) touch down for her first try of the season.

At the change of ends, Morpeth came at the game in earnest and looked dangerous. They capitalised on their speedy and inventive back line who sidestepped their way up the pitch and scored on the far right. Carlisle responded by trying to get the ball to their backs to show their pace but were cut down by a good Morpeth defence. The Cougars fourth try came after an injury stopped the game giving Carlisle the chance to regroup, strong ball carrying and quick recycling of the ball led to Cunningham getting her second try under the posts.

Cougars final score of the day came from turnover ball won by the Cougars who took advantage of the Morpeth defence trying to reorganise – a quick tap penalty was given to Meadley to cut back and score to the left of the sticks. The final points of the day were scored by Lisa Ritchie who slotted over the conversion from out wide.

Overall the performance gave some comfort and the final score line was convincing, but more points should have been gone on the board had full advantage of the numerous opportunities been taken.

Carlisle have three players, captain Lucy Meadley, back row Sarah Elsy and scrum half Philippa Bell representing the North East in the Regional match against the North West at Penrith Rugby club this Sunday, 15th March. Kick off is a 2p.m. and all support is welcome!

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