The search for a first County Championship victory in four years goes on for Cumbria after their 2019 campaign began with a 44-0 defeat against Northumberland at The Ellis Sports Ground in Workington.

But the result is no reflection on Cumbria’s performance and they can take many positives from the afternoon after they matched their North-east neighbours for every tackle, scrum and attack.

Once again, captain Hannah Sherlock directed the action as the hosts gave their opponents cause for concern with spells of domination - especially from Hannah Farrell, Tamar Benson and Charlotte Bowman, while Danielle Easdon on her debut, put in a confident and efficient performance.

Cumbria gradually stepped up the pressure and, on the half hour, Bowman’s persistence came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock, but she was unable to plough through the sea of green and yellow that accosted her with the try-line begging.

After weathering the storm, Northumberland managed to get into a cohesive rhythm and just as it seemed that a scoreless first half was imminent, they struck a cruel blow on the stroke of half-time when a quickly-taken penalty caught Cumbria off guard and their lapse was punished with an unconverted try. After holding them for so long, it was a disappointing end to the opening 40 minutes.

The second half began badly for Cumbria when Farrell was shown a yellow card for what the referee considered a high tackle and, with the extra woman advantage, Northumberland raised their game and proceeded to cut their opponents to shreds with three unanswered tries in seven minutes to race 22-0 ahead with 25 minutes to go.

Cumbria were clearly shellshocked by the onslaught, but Farrell’s return helped to steady the ship and they managed to restrain the onslaught while, in turn, launching some dangerous attacks with clever passing and well-drilled scrummaging.

Northumberland, though, were determined to secure victory and, on 63 minutes, they exploited slack marking to break clear and score their fifth try and followed this up five minutes later to make it 29-0.

Although the match was now beyond Cumbria’s reach, they maintained their spirit and were determined to register a consolation try with a terrific period of domination with Bowman, Benson and Hannah Thornbury all falling painfully short of the whitewash.

Tiredness began to creep in for Cumbria in the closing five minutes and Northumberland closed out the game with a final flourish of two more tries to round off a 44-0 victory.