Lancashire Ladies 15

Cumbrian Ladies 17

CUMBRIAN Ladies recorded their first every senior victory over Lancashire after they kicked off their County Championship campaign with an historic win in Southport.

It had appeared Cumbria would be heading for a narrow defeat in a pulsating encounter on the coast as they trailed 15-12 with less than two minutes remaining.

But step forward captain Lucy Meadley who led by example, taking a quick tap penalty and barging over the line for a match-winning try.

Cumbria got off to a strong start, taking control of the game and were dominant in the opening encounters with Meadley, Sam Meakin and Sue Bird all coming to the fore.

And they opened the scoring on seven minutes when strong running from the centres McCoullough and Sherlock provided winger Hayley Hodgson with the space to run in from 20m. Abby Bland added the conversion to give Cumbria an 7-0 lead.

If Cumbria thought it may be plain sailing from here they were very much mistaken as this score kick started Lancashire into action.

As Lancashire pressed forward Cumbria were unfortunate to lose fly half Abby Bland to the sin bin for a trip which seemed more accidental than deliberate. And they took advantage with an unconverted try out wide.

But Cumbrian restored their seven-point advantage when Hodgson was again given too much space out wide and she used her pace to outstrip the defence to score in the corner.

However, 10 minutes before the break, Lancashire scored a second try to make it 12-10 at half time.

In the second half, the hosts piled on the pressure but the Cumbrian defence held firm. Eventually on 60 minutes the pressure told as Lancashire scored an unconverted try which gave them a three point advantage and the lead for the first time.

Cumbria pressed hard looking for that winning score and spilled the ball with they try line at their mercy.

But when Lancashire were penalised close to their own line, Meadley reacted quickest, taking a tap penalty and barrelled her way over the line to score from 10m out, taking three defenders with her in the process.

Head Coach Ally Ratcliffe said: "I am totally delighted by the whole squads commitment and effort.

"Each and everyone of them played their part in this victory. We will enjoy celebrating tonight and then it will be time to focus on next week's challenge against Cheshire.'

Cumbria Women host their Cheshire counterparts at Carlisle RFC on Saturday (kick off 1pm), prior to the Senior Men playing Staffordshire at 3pm.

CUMBRIA: 1. Lucy Meadley, 2. Charlotte Sellers, 3. Sam Meakin, 4. Caroline Clutterbuck, 5. Sarah Jackson, 6. Amy Beard, 7. Steph Musgrave, 8. Sue Bird, 9. Phillipa Chadwick, 10. Abby Bland, 11. Hayley Hodgson, 12. Kelly McCoullough, 13. Hannah Sherlock, 14. Rachelle Malette, 15. Vanessa Temple

16. Kerry Procter, 17. Laura Cunningham, 18. Emma Grunnill, 19. Bryoni Bland, 20. Tanya Bushell, 21. Bethan Lloyd, 22. Emily Knowles, 23. Kirsty Ranson