By Mark Hodgkiss
A good second half almost snatched an unlikely win in the Wasps final home game of the season.
The Wasps were without a number of players due to injury and unavailability, especially in the pack, and came up Cougars team who have had a number of good wins, including at home against the Wasps earlier in the season.
The Cougars opened the scoring after five minutes. Having survived pressure on their line, the Wasps were awarded a scrum, but the Cougars stole the ball for a try which was converted. 0v7
The Cougars continued to dominate, with the Wasps having difficulty getting the ball due to the Carlisle dominance in the scrum, and also some stolen balls in the lineout, but the Wasps defence held firm.
After quarter of an hour the Cougars scored again from a scrum, but this time from their own put in. 0v12.
As the half went on the Wasps came more into the game, and there were long periods when the Cougars were in their own half, as whilst they were winning good ball in the scrum, the Kendal backline was up quickly with good tackling, especially from outside half Lauren Harkness, and also some crunching tackles from centre Tamar Benson, which disrupted the Cougars, and saw a number of passes go loose.
A Cougars attempted clearance kick was charged down by Tamar Benson, who then gathered the ball to set up a Wasps attack, but the Carlisle defence held firm.
The Wasps held the score to 0v12 at half time and the second half was to be a different game.
After just two minutes the Wasps were back in the game. The Cougars were on the attack in the Kendal half, when Lauren Harkness anticipated a pass and intercepted, then managed to find the pace to get to the line for the try, unfortunately the conversion was not successful. 5v12.
The Wasps were soon back on the attack and had a period of pressure in the Cougars twenty two, with the referee warning Carlisle for conceding a number of penalties for offside.
There was a long stoppage for treatment to Lauren Harkness, but fortunately she was able to walk off the field, and was soon able to re-join the action.
When play resumed Kendal ran a penalty, from which Amy Orrow went over for a try, to close the gap to 10v12.
This stung the Cougars into action and they quickly extended their lead with a good run through the centre, brushing off tackles to go through for a converted try. 10v19.
Action soon returned to the other end of the field, with the Wasps back on the attack. After Catherine Sewell and Lauren Harkness had been stopped near the line, Amy Orrow went over for her second try. The difficult conversion kick was on target, but fell short of the posts. 15v19.
With five minutes of normal time to play the Cougars made the game safe with a try started from a scrum in mid-field, with the ball moved wide to the right wing for the score. 15v24.
The game ended with Lauren Harkness again receiving treatment, after been tackled when running the ball out from her own half.
A good display, especially in the second half against a powerful team, and if the Wasps had been able to compete more at the set piece it could have been a different result, but on the day the Cougars were just too strong.