Workington Town Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@Chapalar)
Following the comprehensive victory away at Whitehaven the previous Sunday, the Cougars found themselves back in Cumbria just 72 hours later for this rearranged Championship fixture away at Workington Town.
With the short amount of time between games, Paul March made changes ahead off the game at Derwent Park. With Paul himself out with a dead leg, this saw a return to the side for Scott Leatherbarrow, with James Haley returning from a dislocated shoulder to take the place of Daley Williams in the other change in the backs. There was two changes in the pack with Josh Lynam and Joe Chandler dropping out for the returning pair of Oliver Pursglove and Ben Sagar.
With a downpour occurring just moments before the kick off, it ensued for a fast game with handling errors a plenty and this is exactly how the game started on the greasy surface with Brett Carter being caught out by a Scott Leatherbarrow kick and Danny Jones just catching Jamie Acton following a mistake by Craig Moss.
The kicking game and high amount of handling errors were taking over the game with the likes of Leatherbarrow, Lupton and Callum Phillips catching the eye on the Derwent Park pitch. But, after some sloppy possession by both outfits, Scott Leatherbarrow kicked a fantastic 40/20 to set the way for the first try off the evening.
Following a scrum due to a Danny Lawton handling error, Oliver Pursglove stole back possession for the Cougars with himself and Brendon Rawlins being held short off the line. Then, Buster played the ball from the ruck to Andy Shickell with the big man powering over the line to break the deadlock. Scott Leatherbarrow then proceeded to add the extras for the visitors.
Town then began to take the game by the scruff off the neck with Mark Calderwood doing well to hold a kick by Danny Jones before Shaun Briscoe survived a dodgy bounce from a Leatherbarrow kick before Briscoe and Jason Mossop were held short off the line by the boys in green.
Then, the Cougars finally capitulated under the pressure off the Town attack with Shaun Briscoe finding a gap in the defensive line before throwing a dummy and going through to cross for the hosts first try off the evening. Brett Carter then proceeded to add the extras to bring the sides level.
James Haley departed after dislocating his shoulder once again in the challenge leading to the try and with the ball beginning to prove a problem in the wet conditions, the Town were in yet again after Brett Phillips powered over the line taking three Cougars defenders with him and leaving Danny Lawton down with a suspected broken ankle. Carter added the extras yet again to send the hosts into half time with a six point lead.
Town began the second forty who they ended the first with Peter Lupton kicking a superb 40/20 early on in the proceedings. Shaun Briscoe then picked out a lovely kick from which Brett Carter collected the ball off the ground before crossing unchallenged in the corner. He then sent a fantastic touchline conversion over to extend the lead for his side.
After Danny Jones nearly got over following a miscommunication between Briscoe and Calderwood, Scott Leatherbarrow asked for a change off ball and the kicking game restarted with bombs, chips and grubbers taking hold off the game. The game was slowed down due to blood injuries with Pursglove forced to change his jersey whilst Thackray complained off a facial from Shick.
With play restarted, Town assumed control yet again when Shaun Briscoe denying Danny Jones with some excellent goal line defence and despite a moment of comedy as the referee was left down by the back tracking Oliver Pursglove the hosts extended their lead after Peter Lupton sent a one pointer over following a goal line dropout.
The Town were back on the Cougars line from the restart and after a Graeme Mattinson kick deflected off the match official, Town regained possession quickly following a break by Jarrad Stack and after injuries to Jones and Thackray, Shaun Briscoe turned footballer as he kicked the ball ten metres through three Cougars defenders before touching down. Carter added the extras leaving the Cougars needing two scores for the bonus point.
Some confusion came from a Danny Jones restart which was made to be retaken but seconds later, the Cougars crossed for their second try off the evening. Following some wonderful passing and handling across the attacking line, Craig Moss sent a pass out wide to Gavin Duffy who touched down in the corner unchallenged. Scott Leatherbarrow then sent over a fantastic touchline conversion off his own which shaved off the post.
An error by Jamie Thackray presented the Cougars with the ball, which they didn’t give away for the majority off the final five minutes off the evening. Following a suspected forward pass by Danny Jones, Buster fought over underneath the sticks. The referee disallowed the try, claiming the hooker was held up over the line, however awarded it after consultation with his touch judge. Leatherbarrow added the extras to secure at least a bonus point.
The Cougars got over excited in the closing moments, constantly getting the scrum set up quickly to stop the clock before giving the game to Town with some sloppy play. Scott Law knocked on in the tackle before trying to steal back in the scrum before Jode Sheriffe was punished for a ball steal. The game was brought to a close after Jamie Thackray was halted in the corner by a number of Cougars defenders.
Yorkshire Times Man of the Match – Oliver Pursglove – The Second Rower put in a solid shift. After moving to the centres following the injuries to both James Haley and Danny Lawton, he put in a tough tackling and metre making goliath effort to keep the Cougars alive despite going unnoticed by many. He even played through a blood injury which kept stopping his second half and even managed to keep strong in Neil Cherryholme’s jersey!
Cougars: Moss, Duffy, Haley, Lawton, Barnett, Jones, Leatherbarrow, Shickell, Feather, Jode Sheriffe, Pursglove, Sagar, Rawlins. Interchanges: Hesketh, Law, Bailey, Kelly.
Town: Briscoe, Carter, Mossop, Hulme, Calderwood, Lupton, C Phillips, Coward, Mattinson, Acton, B Phillips, Stack, Olstrum. Interchanges: Morris, Thackray, Rooney, Connor.