Cumbrian clubs are gearing up for the new rugby union season with a series of pre-season warm-up games.

Carlisle and Wigton both took on Scottish opposition, while there was a west Cumbrian derby involving Workington and Whitehaven.

Annan had invited Carlisle to play a unique commemoration of their 50th year since re-forming in 1968, and it gave the city side’s new coach Matt Shields the opportunity to put some of the training ground moves into practice amidst valuable game time.

The match was played in four quarters of 20 minutes and, in the end, Carlisle finished 76-26 winners.

While Carlisle had the scrum dominance for much of the game, Annan were very much in it at half-time with the visitors just outscoring by four tries to two to take an interval lead at 26-14.

In the second half, Carlisle pulled away as they started to play as a unit, with some good performances from a clutch of new players who will be pushing hard for starting places this season.

Try of the second half should probably have been awarded to the Annan prop forward who showed remarkable fleetness of foot to dance his way through the Carlisle defence before crashing over for a well-deserved try.

Although Carlisle ran out eventual winners, this was more about getting game time under the belt as they progress towards the first game of the season in two weeks time against Wigton in the cup.

Head coach Shields praised the commitment of the players as they get to grips with the style of play he wants for the coming season, but reflected there was still much work to be done on the training ground.

It is 40 years since Wigton played Dumfries and, back in the 1970s, was a regular fixture. So it was good to get to grips again for a pre-season friendly.

Dumfries have progressed into National League rugby now, one of top 20 clubs north of the border, and last year won the National knockout final when beating Kelso.

Both clubs had squads of 25 and Wigton gave home debuts to talented three-quarter Theo Manihera and ex-Millom Player of the Year James Wilson who operates in the back five of the pack.

New head coach Andy Brown has also seen playing resources boosted over pre-season with the return of local centre John Wright (22 appearances as a teenager in 2009/10 season), half-back Matt Rogers and Cumbria full-back Gregg Smith who both missed the whole of last season through injury.

It turned out to be an excellent game, played at high tempo in conditions suited to running rugby with Dumfries finishing 27-22 winners.

It was 17-5 to Dumfries at half-time with the Wigton try coming just into the second quarter when a counter-attack from David Hanabury and Richard Moffatt ended with a line break by Greg Wrathall. The ball was moved wide to Oliver Lewis who finished from 20 metres.

Six minutes into the second half, Wigton cut the deficit.

From a home scrum, Jose Nicholson and Charles Studholme linked well with Richard Moffatt in support to take play to the Dumfries line. The ball was moved smartly to hooker Elliot Armstrong who drove over from short-range.

Wigton continued to dominate and were prevented from levelling scores by a corner-flag tackle after a Josh Leeson interception took play 60 metres. Great support from Fergus Ledingham saw Lewis just miss out.

Play was end-to-end but Dumfries were close three times through pacey winger Andrew Whiteford who was stopped by last gasp try-line tackles.

Dumfries did eventually score after showing good composure in attack and the classy centre Huddleston off-loaded smartly for flanker Dougie Boyd to cross.

Wigton were quick to respond as Rogers and Hanabury went through the phases before releasing Wrathall on an excellent line break and he managed to retain the ball and touchdown. Manihera converted to make it 22-17.

Wigton pushed on for the equalising score with Joe Gilroy, Kevin Robinson and Manihera all prominent but Dumfries showed their National League experience with some excellent defensive work.

On 72 minutes, Dumfries put together an effective driving maul and captain Michael Scott, son of former Broughton and Carlisle Border Raiders forward Tony Scott, touched down.

Wigton finished strongly and good scrum work from Gilroy and Lindsay Walker saw them take a ball against the head. Rogers was quick to seize the opportunity and put Lewis into space and a determined run took him over from 30 metres for the final score.

At the Ellis Sports Ground, hosts Workington were beaten 34-12 by Whitehaven in a work-out that will have done both sides a power of good.