By Amy Orrow
First local derby in over 2 seasons goes to the Cougars!
The Wasps went to Carlisle off the back of 2 losses so we’re looking to set the record back to winning ways with a local derby against a fellow Cumbrian team!
With Both teams having similar results in the league so far, and many of the players having played together at county level, this was always going to be a challenging game for both sides.
The Wasps arrived in good spirits, and warmed up with a positive attitude to start the game as they meant to go on.
The game started well, with all the rugby being played between the two 22s. Carlisle saw the majority of the ball and played their usual style of crashing the ball up at the first receiver which the Wasps defended well as they knew this would be the strategy the Cougars adopted. Great tackling at the fringes of the breakdown by Anna Waite, Sarah Muncaster and Lindsey Benzie occurred keepingrhe Cougars At bay in the first quarter of the match.
The Wasps have been working on defensive tactics in training which showed in their numbers and speed getting to the breakdown. Aimee Sharpe made a comeback appearance today after a spell out of rugby to complete the New York Marathon, and it was great to see her counter rucking and making a nuisance of herself at the breakdown. One tackle by Sarah Wilkinson was followed up by Amy Orrow who got herself over the ball and managed to rip and steal for the turnover. The Wasps reacted to the turnover and used this to make some ground, asking questions of the Carlisle back line, which was great to see.
The first try wasn’t scored until 25 minutes in when in the Wasps 22, the Carlisle number 10 broke through the tackle and managed to dot the ball down under the posts from 10m out. This was converted to make the score 7v0.
The second score of the half again came from the Cougars after a driving maul from a lineout 10m from the try line. Cougars had the penalty advantage from a high tackle as the ball came off the back of the maul. The try scorer ran back towards the traffic of wasps defenders and in a bit of confusion used her own players as blockers to then dive over the line. The Wasps felt that the ball should’ve been taken back for the penalty due to blocking but the score was given. Conversion missed, 12v0. The result of that high tackle meant Wasps number 6, Susie Winter has to take 10minutes in the sin bin as this was after a warning given by the referee.
The score remained the same for the remainder of the half which is credit to the remaining 14 players in the pitch but still the Wasps saw hardly any of the ball in attack and when they did, there were one too many handling errors and decisions that just didn’t go their way. Their defensive efforts didn’t go unnoticed however as the tackles came in time and time again combined with their new style of defensive press they only learnt this week in training!
The first half ended with a Wasps penalty which was taken quickly by Amy Orrow and kicked into touch to end the half.
Half time score 12v0.
The second half started well again, and the Wasps managed to get their hands on the ball a bit more. Off the back of a scrum, the ball found its way to a Lauren Harkness who stepped a couple of defenders to then kick the ball up the pitch, and with a good chase, the Cougars were back in their own half tracking backwards. Good pressure from the Wasps again saw a turnover at the breakdown. Hayley Hodgson reacted first, gathered the ball and made one of her signature runs at the outside shoulder of the centres, making around 20m but unfortunately the offload didn’t find any team mates but it was a positive move and seemed to spur the Wasps on. After some good phases of play by the Wasps, The Cougars defence weren’t being given any time to set properly which created a few gaps which Hayley Hodgson exploited and again made a charging run for the line. With just a few metres to go, she had a couple of defenders hanging off her which did just enough to cause her to knock the ball on in her attempt to reach for the line. Great attempt just falling short of the desired goal! A blood sub was made for Amy Orrow who took a knee to the nose when diving on a loose ball, which saw Sarah Wilkinson move to number 8. At a Wasps scrum on the 40m line, Sarah Wilkinson picked up from the back and ran down the short side, handing off a couple of players before passing the ball to Hayley Hodgson who had decided to support from fullback. She had a lot to do from 30m out to beat he defenders on the outside to then sore try wide out on the left. Tamar Benson has good accuracy with the conversion but it fell short of the cross bar. Score now 12v5.
Unfortunately the Wasps conceded two further tries at the back end of the match, the first of which was a well worked backs move that saw good handling, creating an overlap which was scored by the winger. Nothing the Wasps could do more than they did as it was a simple game of numbers that the Cougars took advantage of. Conversion missed 17v5.
The last try could have been avoided As the fly half of Cougars charged at the defence from the Wasps 22, and with 2 or 3 missed tackles, the try was scored. A disappointing score to have been conceded considering the defensive effort shown throughout the previous 70 odd minutes. Conversion missed 22v5.
The match ended soon after with a Cougars penalty in their own half which they decided enough was enough and kicked the ball into touch.
Final score 22v5.
A better defensive effort from the Wasps which was encouraging after last week’s performance, they just lacked possession of the ball today which meant they couldn’t impose on the Cougars in attack as much as they would’ve hoped.
Next match, home to Chester on the 9th where the Wasps will be looking to do the double as theybeat Chester 10v22 in the Away game earlier in the season.