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Cougars Fall Short In Game Of Two Halves

Dewsbury Rams Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@Chapalar)

The Cougars made the short trip to the Tetley’s Stadium to tackle the Dewsbury Rams in this rearranged Kingstone Press Championship fixture after the original date fell to the freakish snow and ice which gripped the nation in March.

The two sides came into the fixture as the sides in the worst form in the division and following last week’s defeat at Doncaster which saw the Cougars slump to the foot of the table, player-coach Paul March made changes.

James Haley came straight in on debut following his return from Australia earlier in the week along with the Sheriffe brothers, Jesse and Jode. This saw Sean Hesketh and Ben Sagar drop to the interchanges. Josh Lynham fell victim to the changes and was dropped to the Under 20s side for this week and Gavin Duffy was the other player to miss out from the previous week.

From the kick off Dewsbury got the ball and made some valuable metres following a high shot by Brendon Rawlins and from the resulting penalty kicked into touch and won a tap from the ten metre line but were held out by a resilient Cougars defence. A quick exchange of possession followed before Paul White knocked on behind the line and gave away a goal line dropout.

Dewsbury nearly got over on two occasions but luckily for the Cougars, Karl Pryce threw a poor pass which found it’s way into touch of Danny Lawton before the defence held strong once more to hold Adam O’Brien, on dual registration from the Bradford Bulls, short of the line. Cougars kept possession of the ball with Brendon Rawlins sweeping through all before him before a Danny Jones kick caused great confusion in the strong wind.

Cougars were proving the greater attacking threat and some clever kick and pass play by Danny Jones and Danny Lawton were proving effective and nearly got the Cougars on the scoreboard first as Daley Williams found his way over with the try being disallowed for double movement.  A knock on then halted Dewsbury down the other end before consecutive penalties saw the Cougars make some crucial metres and after both Paul March and Joe Chandler were stopped short a fantastic pass by Danny Jones sent Jesse Sheriffe over in the corner. Jones then sliced the conversion wide.

Karl Pryce then got the Rams off to two fast starts from quick twenty metre taps and the Cougars giving away sloppy penalties didn’t help the cause and this saw them punished as Karl Pryce barged his way over through three defenders to bring the Rams level as Jy-Mel Coleman then kicked the conversion well wide of the posts.

Cougars regained possession quickly and acted just as fast as Paul March led the charge through the Rams defence and after the ball was spilled on the line in a tackle on Joe Chandler, Scott Law who’d had just come on was the quickest to the ball and found his way underneath the sticks with the easiest of runs before Danny Jones converted to put the Cougars six in front.

Some tough tackling in defence continued to prove the key for the Cougars progress in this game with Brendon Rawlins and James Feather hauling the Rams attackers out of play before winning a penalty as quick little hooker Joe Parkinson was the victim of some foul play. The Cougars made their way down the field and nearly got in again but Danny Jones kick was too strong for Danny Lawton.

Dewsbury Rams got their first sustained time of constant attack on the Cougars line from this point and nearly got over on three separate occasions. The first saw Dale Morton held out and put into touch from a fantastic last ditch tackle by Paul March before the Rams forced a goal line dropout as Paul White was pressurised by the attack coming his way. The third occasion saw the Rams nearly cross but the Cougars defence held strong.

Cougars nearly fought their way over once again as Paul March once again led the charge despite Daley Williams putting hearts in mouths with his ball juggling technique. The Cougars from this went for the kick from Danny Jones again with Ben Sagar oh so nearly getting there but Scott Hale got the ball and led it out into the field of play but that was the last action of the half as the hooter sounded.

Dewsbury Rams got the second half under way and immideately got possession after a dreadful kick from Danny Jones. The scrum which followed saw the hosts exploit the gaps in the Cougars defence and get reward from it as Lucas Walshaw found his way over the try line. Jy-Mel Coleman then converted to bring the sides level.

The Rams looked a completely different outfit second half and continued their attack followed by great defence but nearly got caught out as a Joe Chandler pass out to James Haley found its way to Jesse Sheriffe with the winger knocking on when it looked easier to go in the corner and score. The Cougars were falling apart defensively and this cost dearly once again as Dale Morton found his way over despite the best efforts of Chandler and Sagar. Jy-Mel Coleman then put the conversion narrowly wide to give the Rams a four point advantage.

The Cougars finally got a sniff of the Rams line from their first set prior to the Rams taking the lead and Sean Hesketh nearly barged his way over on the last but was halted by the Dewsbury defence. The Rams then gave cougars possession back sloppily and Sean Hesketh led a much needed attack on the line but with the Rams holding out it needed something special and they thought they had found it when Danny Lawton in the corner but the try was ruled out for the pass out of the completed tackle.

Tommy Gallagher broke the Cougars line and threatened to further extend the hosts lead and Dewsbury were once again very close to crossing the line but a knock on when it seemed easier to score like Jesse Sheriffe earlier in the half proved the difference on the occasion.

With possession being exchanged regularly with poor passing and sloppy penalties proving the theme of the match, Cougars were the next side to nearly get over with Paul White but Danny Jones was then met with a thunderous hit of Karl Pryce and Makali Aizue collected the ball to start another Rams set but a kick early by Jy-Mel Coleman proved the downfall when the Rams were looking good to score yet again.

The game was then brought to life after a exchange of views shall we say by Karl Pryce and Andy Shickell, Paul March and Ryan Wright shared some blows on the floor with Brendon Rawlins and Adam O’ Brien scrapping just away from the initial incident. The referee placed the incident on report with the Rams opting for the kick for two but Dale Morton put the ball into touch.

From the dropout, Karl Pryce ran forward with pace and power and left Olly Pursglove feeling the after effects with a hit which shook the Tetley’s Stadium to the core but the Rams pushed forward and some poor Cougars defence allowed Greg Scott to go unchallenged into the corner. Dale Morton then was unlucky not to get the conversion yet again.

With the sound of “Marchy, what’s the score?” ringing round the ground with Roger Ram as the leader of the taunts, Cougars began to push to get back into the game. Cougars won a goal line dropout and with the props leading the charge to get over the line the Cougars handed Rams possession like candy to a baby with another sloppy penalty.

Aaron Brown broke the Rams line and made forty metres leaving Cougars defenders in their wake before a last ditch tackle by Jode Sheriffe leaving the loose forward short of the line and at the same time forcing a knock on from the man in the number six jersey.

Paul March will not have been happy with the way the kicking game will have been going in the Dewsbury wind and will have been bordering on furious with the way his side’s defensive line was being picked apart by sloppy penalties and fast Rams play the ball.

Cougars then pushed for another try with Ben Sagar being halted on the line with Andy Shickell then fighting his way through the Rams defence with Paul White then coming across the same fate as Sagar before him before a Paul March kick was handed out by the Rams defensive line and then following a poor dropout, Buster tapped and the Cougars ran before some more sloppy handling cost the visitors dearly.

With tensions still running high, Mr J Leahy had no option but to get in the middle of things as fists were nearly flying between Paul March and Karl Pryce after an off the ball incident but with the game coming to a close the Cougars could only hold onto a bonus point.

A late shot by the Cougars defence gave the Rams a penalty ten metres from the line and the chances to deny the visitors the bonus point and leave them at the foot of the table was there’s but there wasn’t enough time left and the hooter sounded to bring the game to an end.

Yorkshire Times Cougars Man of the Match – Joe Chandler – Joe put in a solid shift from the second row providing the Cougars with possession in attack nearly getting over the try line on three separate occasions and also made fantastic runs through the Rams line. Defensively, he put in many a tackle despite the big hitting runs of the likes of Karl Pryce and Makali Aizue and played his part in the Cougars many a try saving set in the first forty of the match.

Cougars: White, Jesse Sheriffe, Haley, Williams, Lawton, Jones, March, Shickell, Feather, Jode Sheriffe, Pursglove, Chandler, Rawlins. Interchanges: Hesketh, Law, Sagar, Parkinson.

Rams: Pryce, Morton, Hale, Watkinson, Scott, Hyde, Coleman, Nash, O’Brien, Jones, Walshaw, Hepworth, Brown. Interchanges: Wright, Gallagher, Cosgrove, Aizue.

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