Workington Town Match Report by Joshua Chapman (@Chapalar)
The Cougars welcomed Workington Town to Cougar Park in this must win Kingstone Press Championship fixture in front of the television cameras of Premier Sports.
Changes were rife following the heavy defeat at the hands of Leigh Centurions on the Sunday previous. Youngsters Ben Stead and Rob Hawthorne returned to the Under 20s set up with Paul March and James Haley returning from injury, Daley Williams also missed out with Elliott Cosgrove coming straight into the side following signing from Dewsbury Rams on the Wednesday. Joe Chandler returned from injury in a move which saw Josh Lynham drop to the interchanges along with Sean Hesketh who missed out to Andy Shickell. Lewis Reed missed out on a place in the seventeen.
Workington Town got the game underway and the defence were immediately stuck in to the Cougars which saw them win an early scrum after forcing a knock on from Andy Shickell. The Town surrendered possession however after a well timed interception by Oliver Pursglove.
Some fantastic play from the Cougars nearly came to fruition as Paul White was halted short before Elliott Cosgrove was stopped in goal and from the resulting dropout the Cougars pushed hard with Paul White and Elliott Cosgrove being halted short before after a foul on James Haley some clever passing saw Brendon Rawlins exploit a gap in the defence to cross for a try which was only awarded after the video referee was consulted for an obstruction. Scott Leatherbarrow then converted.
Some fantastic defence by Joe Chandler and Paul March led the way for the hosts and they continued this with some fantastic play but this was halted as Danny Jones knocked on to award the visitors scrum but the Cougars held out strong.
The next Cougars attack was more of the same and Paul White nearly got lucky of a Paul March kick but was halted in goal by former Super League top try scorer Mark Calderwood. Workington nearly crossed the line but was ruled out for a knock on in an earlier play.
Some fantastic metre making by Buster and some Super League class kicking by Paul March was paving way for some mouth watering rugby by the Cougars and Workington was finding it hard to deal with the new look and pace of Paul March’s side, especially after Scott Leatherbarrow threatened to go the distance to the line.
Cougars however extended their lead after Scott Leatherbarrow kicked for two after Workington were penalised for a foul against Paul White. From the restart the Cougars were halted short of the line however the referee ruled against the visitors for the foul on Paul March and Scott Leatherbarrow took the two once again. And the relentless Cougars pressure continued with Scott Law breaking the line twice before from the play the ball, Buster burst over. Leatherbarrow then converted once again.
Workington Town got a rare attack which once again proved fruitless with the likes of James Haley leading the defensive line and the Cougars were quick with the boot once again with a penalty for first a high shot on Joe Parkinson and another for a ball steal on Joe Chandler giving Scott Leatherbarrow the opportunity, successful on both occasions, to kick another two points onto the board.
Workington Town couldn’t handle the Cougars defence and following a foul on Paul White and Joe Parkinson following a break of the Town line the Cougars kept the ball alive and White collected a James Haley dummy kick to cross the line and score before Leatherbarrow missed the conversion to keep the score at 24-0 at Half Time.
The game restarted for the second half and Gavin Duffy showed the pace and quickness expected off him breaking the Town line twice following an interception until he was hauled out of play by the Town defence.
From the next play, Cougars regained possession and from the play the ball, Oliver Pursglove barged his way over the line with try only been awarded after the video referee was asked to consider the decision. Scott Leatherbarrow then somehow to the disbelief of the crowd sliced the conversion.
From the kick off, a knock on-athon ensued and from the resulting scrum some scrappy Workington Town play paid off at last with Peter Lupton scoring in the corner to bring them onto the scoreboard, Brett Carter sliced the conversion horribly wide of the posts. Town then scored again from the restart when after making their way down field, Karl Olstrum exploited a defensive line gap to get in underneath the sticks, this time Carter didn’t miss.
The game then seemed to patter and be tedious for the first time with the only action of note a high bombing kick by Danny Jones being well chased down by Elliott Cosgrove and then Gavin Duffy broke the line but after play was halted after Buster was taking injured with a bloodied nose and Town then crossed again with Elliott Miller punishing a Gavin Duffy error to bring the gap into bonus point territory with Ian Smith awarding after a sniff of double movement.
Cougars were getting sloppy after play was stopped for an apparent injury to Marchy and after an unnecessary forward pass by the Player-Coach, Town attacked down the wing and Mark Calderwood found his way into the corner with Ian Smith called upon once again. The try was awarded and Brett Carter missed the conversion.
Cougars were defending frantically to keep the resurgent Cumbrian side at bay and with youngster Josh Lynham trying to commit to every tackle and every dropped ball was making him stand out in an all off a sudden fragile defence.
Workington were dominating play until a defensive error allowed Jode Sheriffe to start another Cougars set and following a head injury sustained by Danny Jones the Cougars attacked and lost possession with Town breaking the line with Mark Calderwood and then after a suspicious forward pass, Elliott Miller kicked the ball into the goal mouth with Scott Leatherbarrow defusing the situation. The Cougars then died the ball down to bring the game to an end following an injury to Elliott Cosgrove.
Yorkshire Times Cougars Man of the Match – Scott Leatherbarrow – The scrum half controlled play throughout the match when the Cougars were in possession and kicked his side to victory with four crucial penalty conversions in the opening forty. His improved kicking game allowed the side to improve in attack and this proved to be the difference on the evening.
Cougars: Jones, Duffy, Haley, Cosgrove, White, March, Leatherbarrow, Shickell, Feather, Jode Sheriffe, Pursglove, Chandler, Rawlins. Interchanges: Hesketh, Law, Parkinson, Lynham.
Town: Carter, Miller, Connor, Morris, Calderwood, Lupton, Forber, Dowes, Mattinson, Walne, Thackray, Stack, Olstrum. Interchanges: Shackley, Robinson, Phillips, Craven.