Carlisle Rugby Club conceded seven tries for the second away game in a row as they went down 47-31 in North Premier at Sandal.

Scoring 31 points and collecting a try bonus-point would generally be regarded as a good reward and a probable win away from home, but it’s the defensive issues which will concern player-coach Matt Shields.

They went behind on four minutes when Max Connon’s attempted clearance kick was charged down and the Sandal flanker went in under the posts.

Two minutes later, the Sandal winger intercepted a long pass and sprinted 65 metres for their second converted try.

When Carlisle won a close-range line-out, the ball was moved across the 22, and a Sandal defender infringed at the breakdown, giving Grant Connon the easiest of penalty kicks in front of the posts.

Crucially, from the restart, Carlisle lost their captain Henry Wainwright to a yellow card for a dump tackle.

Wainwright's dismissal would prove costly as, five minutes later, the Sandal lock strolled through a gap in a line-out defence to set up Sandal’s third try.

The Sandal try bonus-point was not long in coming as Carlisle were caught wrong-footed from a bad bounce of the ball in attack, and the Sandal winger set-up an attack which ended with a try under the posts.

Carlisle continued to plug away, and a catch and drive gave them the opportunity to spin the ball wide for fly-half Chris Auld to crash through for their first try, converted by Connon.

Winger Ben Purdham then snaffled a floated pass out wide as Sandal were looking to press up, and he sprinted from the halfway line for Carlisle’s second converted try on the half-hour mark.

In the second half, Carlisle forced a scrum on the Sandal 10-metre line and had the home pack going backwards at a rate of knots. To the disbelief of the Carlisle forwards, Sandal were awarded a penalty which proved a game changer.

The resulting line-out deep in Carlisle’s half gave the home side the chance to maul the ball, sucking in defenders and they spun the ball wide to exploit the gaps to go over for their fifth try.

Sandal then won a scrum of their own inside the Carlisle 10-metre line, and Sandal’s replacement winger had gas to burn as he shot down the left touchline to make it 40-17.

Carlisle managed to secure their third try just after the hour mark when centre Dan Holmes latched on to quick ball from the back of a line-out and fended off a couple of defenders to go under the posts.

Chasing the game left Carlisle more exposed than they’d have liked, and Sandal exploited another gap in their defence to go through for their seventh try, effectively killing off the game with 12 minutes to go.

Carlisle didn’t give up, though, and replacement centre Steve Benson managed to squeeze between two defenders and round the outside of the full-back for Carlisle’s consolation bonus-point try with five minutes to go.