Cockermouth 12 Wigton 16

Cockermouth Wasps had been looking forward to the opportunity to test their rugby at a higher level and this certainly was the case on Saturday with the visit of a physical Wigton team and a referee who usually officiates in a higher league.

Unfortunately, the home side got off to the worst possible start with experienced back player Mark Watson getting injured before the game and then number 10, Ed Gate and 12, Jonny Ostle, banging heads and going to hospital within five minutes.

To make matters worse Wigton’s first visit into the home side 40s resulted in a penalty which Wigton's no.10 slotted home to take a three-point lead.

As the Wasps were playing with two back-row forwards at no.10 and no.12, the game plan changed to play a more direct game and this helped get the next score.

After many carries at the Wigton defence, a series held-up over the line, with Paul Greening having a try disallowed, the referee awarded a penalty try after the scrum was infringed too many times by the Wigton front row.

This gave the home side the confidence to open up the game and start to play a more expansive game, which could and should have resulted in more tries.

Credit is due to the Wigton defence who stopped second row Stefan Highton and then winger Josh Whild.

Wigton then replied with their control of the game and showed how you win at this level, firstly taking the next three points on offer and then no.12 Richard Moffat crashing over under the sticks to take a half-time lead of 13-7.

The second half continued to be an excellent physical battle, with Cockermouth battering the Wigton line and maybe becoming guilty of not using their back line to full effect.

The strong Wigton defence led by man-of-match Mark Deans absorbed all the pressure and was this time held up Austin Taylor as he powered down the short side.

Wigton were starved of possession and territory but on the first visit into the Cockermouth 40, as in the first half, they were awarded a penalty which their no.10 again cooly slotting over to give the away side a 16-7 lead with 20 mins to play.

Cockermouth again responded with pride and passion and played again with a little more width which was required, outside centre Ryan Burns was put in space down the right edge and his nicely timed offload gave Josh Whild a sprint to to the try line which he took nicely.

Wigton managed to grind the game out and kick the ball dead for the final white.

Respective man-of-match awards went to Cockermouth prop Adam Brough and Wigton evergreen Mark Deans.

Cockermouth took the fight to a Wigton and showed why many pundits think they will still be in the mix for the Cumbria League title come April.

Coach Chris Wright deserves a mention for the work he is doing building a competitive squad based on Cockermouth lads with one or two significant signings – James Robinson ex-Town and Haven and second row Shaun Walker ex Benedictus and Cumbria Squad. Both had strong games.

Victory came at a price for Wigton with injuries to debutant flanker James Wilson who ruptured a bicep after 30 minutes, centre Oliver Lewis (concussion), prop forward Ryan Wannop (fracture to forearm) and centre Richard Moffat (knee ligaments).