Category: Ladies Match Report

Ladies vs Harlow

Stockwood Ladies v Harlow

This Sunday at London Road saw the visit of Harlow in the return league fixture .

Harlow are known for their dogged determination and no little skill especially their no 9 and 10 … unfortunately they struggle for squad numbers and arrived with only 10 In the Ladies game we have to match up and so a 10 aside game was agreed with 5 forwards and 5 backs … Now I cannot hide my dislike for 10s it’s a completely different game from a full 15 aside and to be honest you need to be fit. So the plan was to rotate second rows every 10 mins or so and fit Lisa and Chloe into the backs at some stage .. we had decided to have a smaller squad as trying to get 22 players on would prove too disruptive. Also with Harlow playing this shorter sided game they are much more used to it and so really had an advantage.

Nonetheless we talked about setting a platform and then releasing the ball to Ellen / Sophie and Debs who have a real pace to their play …. Lets get it done early as in the past we have always had a tough encounter with Harlow. So to the crowds delight we caught the ball from the kick off … I was talking with the physio … turned around to see Sophie sprinting up the line to score under the posts after 30 seconds or so … With the bits firmly between our teeth this was the format for the first half .. with the forwards working really hard to create the platform to release Sophie on another 2 Occasions and with Tracey converting very soon it was 17-0 up …

As I mentioned 10s is a far quicker game with more energy expended and so Harlow would get opportunities especially their 9-10 axis ..they decided to kick and chase a lot ..especially as there was a strong wind behind them … we were aware of this and with Ellen , Sophie and Lisa staying alert managed to kwell these moves fairly easily and launch our own attacks . With Sophie scoring again at 22-0 it would appear the game was in control … Changing things about a bit making sure everybody had some game time Harlow started to get a little bit more of the ball and for all the world looked like they would score in the far corner .. but the scrambling Stockwood defence was incredible and not only kept them out turned that defence into an attack which was thwarted in Harlows 22 …

Half time was greeted with a sigh as clearly we needed a break … Abbie ,Amy ,Shania, Hannah, Fran , Cath , Leeanne ,Emma ,P and Freya had worked so hard creating the platform for the backs and they all had done exactly that … The second half would become frustrating after Debs got an early score to take it out to 27-0 clearly the exertions of the first half had taken their toll … as Harlow had the majority of the possession and increasingly becoming dangerous and a little feisty to be honest … but this is the measure of our ever maturing ability and mental strength .. to make tackle after tackle ..with Charlie a constant pain to their scrum half and Tracey making a tremendous try saving tackle we did everything to keep them out … with us missing out on some 50-50 calls from the ref Harlow got a real head of steam and tried valiantly to get back in the game … but apart from just once it was not going to happen …at the final whistle 27-5 the result and in many respects a fine display of attacking Rugby in the first half and defence in the second…. We now have a break for a couple of weeks on the League ..but we do have a development friendly this coming weekend so some of the squad can get some real game time….

Well done girls that’s 3 wins out of the Last 5 and the 2 losses were very close ……. Keep going its getting tight at the top ….

Ladies v Hampstead Ladies

On a nigh on perfect day for Rugby .. soft underfoot and not to cold or to hot … the New Year started with a bang at London Road .

Stockwoods Ladies were entertaining Hampstead in the return fixture in what is the Business end of the season …. Having defeated Hampstead by a final second try earlier in the season they were here for revenge.

Park had been playing really well just before Xmas and it was feared that perhaps the break might stop that momentum now we were going to see.

The early exchanges were fierce and Parks scrum was put under pressure but with Amy and Abbie ,Freya and P .. tackling and counter rucking despite not having much possession we were keeping Hampstead at bay …

Both teams were playing with a good structure clearly this was going to be a tough game with two evenly matched sides and it was Hampstead that struck the first blow ,having won possession in our 22 we were just starting to exert pressure of our own when Hampstead intercepted a pass and ran in to score under the posts ..with the conversion made after 10 mins it was 0-7 …

Parks response was swift winning the ball creating a platform finally managing to go through hands out to Sophie on the wing to run past 3 or 4 Hampstead players to score also under the posts .. to tie the scores up …

Katie our normal Captain and scrum half was injured and Daisy had taken up the reigns of Captain for the day with Sophie King playing at scrum half for the first time ever and her first full game for a year or so these 2 in particular were having influential games.

Hampstead however continued with their intensity and after a kick over the top Annie collected and retuned to be met by Hampsteads impressive and solid 12 who hit her hard in the tackle … Annie had to be replaced .. Lisa for the second match in a row dropped to fullback duties and the returning Debs came on at outside Centre … Sophie (winger) also had to have a break as a dead leg meant she was suffering a bit. Chloe replaced her on the wing.

The squad was being tested .. with the terrible twosome ably supported by Emma and now Lee-anne and Hannah – Park were starting to get some ascendancy .

Hampstead were still dangerous though and the 9 and 12 combined to create an overload .. Ellen was about to tackle the Hampstead player when she accidentally collided with Cath … and this left a 2 on 1 with Lisa and a dummy pass from the Hampstead girl sent her over under the posts again to go 14-7 up ..

We talked about needing another 10% if possible ..we were starting to get more possession in the forwards and Debs was getting line breaks and Daisy made several forages forward needing 4 or 5 of the opposition to stop her .

We were putting some phases together … from a penalty 5 mtrs out first Abbie then Amy then Daisy all tried to break the line ..the good thing was we kept the ball alive and recycled brilliantly … finally Tracey dived for the line to score as the ref had somehow tripped over and whilst doing a magnificent summersault still blew his whistle for the score … quite impressive … missing the conversion it was 12-14 with 6 mins or so to go to half time …

At half-time we talked about being patient as we were now getting more and more possession and they were starting to drop back off our intensity .. keep playing don’t panic game isn’t won at half-time … with Sophie (winger) returning to the fold pretty much everybody had been involved .. Ally was still due a run out …with Annie not being able to return there was a good chance she might be needed. Anyway, we made a couple of handling errors early and found ourselves defending again but managed to snuff anything out without too much difficulty ..we started to get some real go forward and with some good hands from Tracey , Fresh and Debs put Sophie away once more and she finished it well as she still had some work to do .. in the corner.

With our noses in front 17-14 .. we started to dominate the game a bit more with Freya returning our SQUAD was really making a difference especially as Hampstead started to lose some ….. however they were not giving up and possibly one of the moments of the game when from good field position Hampsteads 12 darted for the line getting past 2 defenders ….I didn’t see who did tackle her as she dived to score but whoever it was did enough to dislodge the ball from her grasp and she knocked on …. From this moment on Park pushed Hampstead back and from a break from Daisy the offloads kept the ball

Alive pretty much everybody at some stage offloaded FAY , P , Fresh and with Debs crashing onto it at the end to score was a truly sensational score … at 22-14 this gave us some breathing space … We really did dominate possession from here Sophie and Ellen looked like they had combined to score again but some desperate defending kept us out …

However we were not to be denied another score and with another great team move Fresh found the space she always does and slid through under the posts and with the conversion being made 29-14 … with Sophie King needing a break … Ally got to run out albeit 6 mins or so and Chloe with her textbook set back from a tackle ..made sure that all the squad got some minutes …

The most impressive thing about this result is the growing mental strength of these girls and the patience to trust in their skill set to see them through … we didn’t look panicked or stressed at any stage there was a clear inside belief we can win this game whatever they throw at us and so this proved …..

Home again next week … Oh when the Park !!

Defence work
Good forward work and then sooooooo close!
good attempt at break out play
try!
try!
try!
try!
and for good measure!

LADIES JUST FALL SHORT AT HITCHIN

Stockwood ladies showed yet again how much improvement they have made in the last couple of season by narrowly being defeated away at unbeaten league leaders Hitchin on Sunday.

In a wonderful advert for ladies rugby the game ebbed and flowed with Stockwood at first having to defend their line for the majority of the first half. Some wonderful defending from front row pair Abbie and Amy and the true never say die Stockwood spirit, shown especially by the excellent Hannah, they kept the hosts at bay and gradually Stockwood confidence grew and they were able to turn defence into attack.

A Hitchin chip over the top very nearly resulted in a score, especially when the ball rebounded off the post, thankfully full back Annie was cool enough not to panic and touch the ball down, before the on rushing Hitchin attack could get there.

Our hosts began to get more and more frustrated as they were unable to turn possession into scores and a succession of Stockwood turnovers form Shania, Abbie and Amy allowed Danni, Daisy and Freya to get us going forward and put doubt into Hitchin’s play.

With good clearances from fly half Tracey, especially as we were playing into a strong breeze, Stockwood began to get some authority of their own on proceedings. With our captain, Katie, having to go off with a knee injury midway through the half, some teams may have panicked, however Charli, playing her first game as Scrum Half, really stepped up and we were able to build some quality play of our own.

The last 15 minutes of the half really belonged to us, the hard work of our defence now bearing fruit as we were now getting to see more and more of the ball. Stockwood now had the platform to attack and Fresh, Sophie Ellen and Lil were able to get us going forward and at times get behind our opponents, who were now on the back foot, however their defence was also equal to ours.

On the stroke of half time all of Stockwood hard work paid off, a great platform built by the forwards allowed Tracey and Fresh to link up, gain 10 meter’s and get outside centre Sophie into a small amount of space. From the half way line she was able to weave her way around the outside of three despairing tackles to touch down in the corner and give Park 5-0 lead at half time. A memorable moment for all of us involved, but credit to Sophie who was coolness personified, every time it looked like she had been caught she changed her angle and found that vital space, that she adores so much. 

Hitchin are an excellent side and are not unbeaten for a reason and Park were fully aware that the second half was going to be difficult and ten minutes into the half our defences were broken for the first time.  This gave Hitchin more confidence and Stockwood were struggling to get any clear possession of the ball and wave after wave of attacks were repelled by some truly remarkable defending by Faye, Hannah and Abbie. On at least four occasions Hitchin crossed our whitewash only to be denied points, by players getting underneath the ball or holding our opponents up. It really was a remarkable passage of play, where sheer determination and will power was evident in everyone of Stockwood’s players.

Unfortunately the lack of being able to get the ball from our opponents in this period of the game resulted in one too many attacks and as a result midway through the half Hitchin got their noses in front.

As expected due to such a tough and physical game some of the Stockwood players were now feeling the strain, however the squad we have is outstanding. Hazel was able to come off the bench twice to give players a breather for two good shifts and Pariese also came on 

A mark of how far this team has come however was their reaction to going behind, as the whole team were somehow able to increase their levels of performance and determination, with the remainder of the game seeing Hitchin defences being probed and tested time and time again.

Stockwood began to vary their play, Tracey putting in a lovely kick in over the top for Sophie to catch and just get caught. Fresh seeing more of the ball was now punching her way through, our support play was also allowing Hannah, Pariese, Amy and Daisy to get us going forward and the general structure of our play by all the players was excellent.

Ellen looked like she had managed to break through only to be thwarted by a superb tackle at her feet. Then there was a succession of scrums, Cathy who had been in excellent form all day rallied the forwards and time after time Stockwood drove the league leaders back.

The last few minutes were really nip and tuck, Kiera and Cath were now on the wings and were able to contribute and then Sophie received an awful high tackle that resulted in a yellow card for the opposition player.

Unfortunately for Park with time running out they were unable to take advantage of their numerical advantage and could not break the white wash, for what would have been a deserved equalising score.

So Hitchin continue their unbeaten run with a 10-5 win, but Stockwood should now look to maintain this level of performance for the rest of the season. The team spirit showed today, by the whole squad, from the moment we arrived at Hitchin to when we left the bar following the speeches, was excellent and if we maintain this level of commitment in training and match days there is no limit to how far this team could go.

We must not concentrate on what happened at the end of the match as this will only take away from an excellent display by the team. Truly excellent performances from every member of the squad with Hannah and Charli excelling, however this level of performance must now be repeated until the end of the season.Special mention to a great turn out from Stockwood Park supporters, which  was really appreciated from everyone associated with the team. OWTP!

Ladies vs Kilburn Cosmos

This Sunday saw the visit of Kilburn to London Road a team who have experienced a lot of bad luck over recent seasons with injuries leaving them with a bare squad

However what you cannot take away from them is the spirit and determination they have to continue to play Rugby at all costs.

They arrived with 11 and after discussions surrounding potentially lending them players as we had a squad of 20 … Kilburn wanted to play with just their team as they are training to

Play 10s ….

For us it is a bit foreign and these smaller sided games we don’t like as we just aren’t very good at it …. However having been prepared for the potential we had trained on Thursday for this specific occurrence

so hopefully it will bear some fruit.

The other issue with a big squad is ensuring everybody gets game time especially in a small sided game .. and if we were making constant changes that effects the flow of our game … albeit a better problem to have .

We decided as the scrums were uncontested to pair up second rows for 10 min spells .. Freya and Danni , Hannah and Fran , Faye and P and Leeanne rotating with Fran and Hannah …. With Abbi driving from Bristol and hadn’t arrived Hazel started in the front row with Cath and Shania…

With Katie , Tracey , Fresh , Sophie and Ellen .. making up the starting 10 .. let’s see what happens. …

As a coach one of the best things that can happen is that your side listen to your instructions and implement the plan you think will work … We have been fortunate enough to have Ellen and Sophie in the squad and they are quick and with the width that would be available we must look to use them …. The early skirmishes were Kilburn pushing us back .. but suddenly Freya and Danni ,Cath Hazel and Shania started to counter ruck and turned over possession the ball as requested was moved fast and out to Sophie .. who fixed the last defender and released Ellen to run into the corner … 5-0 and a great start exactly how we wanted it … there was quite a strong wind behind us and we had also talked about popping the ball over for chasers as there would be no full back and tons of space … from the re-start we had a scrum just in our half .. we pop the ball to Tracey who dinks it over the upcoming defence Sophie is on it steadies herself and accelerates away to score under the posts and with Tracey making the conversion it 12-0 in no-time and when Sophie is released again with good hands at 17-0 very quickly allowed us to make a few quick changes with a different second row and Fran going on at prop because Hazel needed a break . We needed also to try the opportunity of mixing things up and Charlie came on and Tracey took a break as she was going to try out scrum half so we have cover should there be any issue with Katie .

As mentioned at the start Kilburn always came hard and were very good at keeping the ball moving ..taking advantage of the slight drop in intensity as the changes settled into the game moved the ball well to create an overlap and their 14 had enough gas to get around the defence and score under the posts and with the conversion made 17-7 … and showed we couldn’t relax as Kilburn were good players …

This woke us up again and for the rest of the half we dominated even making changes with second row constantly changing every 10 mins and all the girls passing the ball and going wide Sophie scored a further 3 tries and Ellen added to her tally and with Hannah converting one and Tracey 2 ..the score was now 43-7 .. However we had to work for everything as Kilburn were slightly quicker to the breakdown. on one occasion turned the ball over and again put a good phase together to score before the half time whistle and at 43-12 .. we turned around …

Abbie had now arrived and we rotated again with Keara going on and Chloe staying on and Annie also that was everybody in the game … Ellen and Sophie were having a rest and so let’s see what might happen … With the girls maintaining the pressure albeit a less experienced back line .. we were good at covering and both Annie and Keara making great tackles to thwart some breaks … the forwards decided to get in on the act a bit now and with Shania making a clean break from a ruck she looked for all the world she was going to score but was caught and Kilburn defended well to keep us out … from a penalty 10 mtrs out Abbie got on the ball and crashed over to score a fine try .

Kilburn came straight back at us and again were very good at keeping the ball alive and again managed to get over the whitewash for what turned out to be their final score ….

Understandably Kilburn were tiring and with Sophie and Ellen retuning on rotation Sophie managed to score 3 more times from distance and with Fran adding her , burst out of the ruck score, maintaining here feat of scoring against Kilburn .. Tracey converting 3 out of 4 the game came to an end at 74-9

For us it turned out to be a comfortable score but to be fair to Kilburn .. it was anything but comfortable if we hadn’t stuck to the game plan it would have become an arm wrestle which we normally do in these situations .. looking at Harlow in particular if we had played like today we would have won that game comfortably instead of the nervy tense finish we actually had …

Everybody played . everybody was really good and we made few mistakes really hence the score line … take some confidence and if we can combine the back play of this week with the forward play against Haringey… we will be a very difficult proposition for any team …

Final note on Kilburn .. you cannot fail to be impressed with the attitude and commitment they show and they clearly enjoy playing Rugby … if you live in North London .. I suggest you give Kilburn a ring a fantastic club that need some Ladies …

For us next up is Hitchin .. always a tough encounter … the training in the last few weeks has been really good and the performances are starting to show it …. Final note of the day .. I believe that Sophie’s tally maybe a club record for the Senior section in one game ….. and right now I think she is the leading try scorer in the club with her 14 at Senior Level …. Considering she has only played 6 games of Rugby ever ..this is truly phenomenal ….. ……. come on the Park …..

Another tough game for the ladies

On yet another perfect day for Rugby the next instalment of our journey was to take place in Haringey as we had yet another away game.

Feeling a little more buoyed from the previous week after finding out that the Lady that caused us all the problems was an ex semi –professional and one time Saracens player ..that really is too good for this level …

We again had a squad of 20 and with a lot of travelling support arrived with perhaps our strongest team this year .. Hitchin game apart, We were still without a couple of regulars due to injury but none-the less a solid squad .

A lot of discussion prior to ko was around trying to be a bit more assertive and to play our game whilst stopping the opposition from playing theirs .. it was always going to be a close / tough encounter as Haringey have had a good start to the season having lost only once and that was to

Hitchin who now sit top of the table … but clearly they would be confident and well structured .

Having chosen to kick up hill and into the sun ,as we felt the slope and the dipping sun would help us in the second half, the game started at a pace .. our intensity was good and we were making the tackles and competing at the rucks … however Haringey were very good at offloading in the tackle .. keeping the ball alive .. with good hands they attacked out wide and despite tackles being made kept the ball moving to score in the corner.. .conversion missed 5 mins in 5-0 down ….

Potentially not deserved but none the less a good score .. important not to drop off we continued with Fran and Fay getting to the breakdowns . the terrible twosome of Amy and Abbie ..giving some good impetus .. Daisy , Hannah and Cath getting around the park well .. if anything when we had possession we were a little flat with our back line allowing Haringey to disrupt our attempts to get it out to Sophie and Ellen … Charlie on the other wing was having a good game holding her position and making her tackles … and when she did bite in it was the right call and she stopped several forays by Haringey …

Getting little change out of our forwards ..the scrum was dominant all day and the line out good as well … we were getting plenty of possession but not quite clicking with the attack … Haringey managed again to keep the ball moving and scored again in the corner to take them out to 10-0 after 20 mins or so ..

With the depth of squad we changed up a bit with Freya replacing Daisy .. Emma for Fay .. P for Shania and Amber for Ellen … this had a good effect as the fresh legs in the forwards gave a real boost , we started to really get the upper hand and with the backs starting to click we were looking dangerous .. however from an error in midfield Haringey managed to pounce and once again had enough to get over in the corner to go 15-0 up …. With 10 minutes left we felt that the score wasn’t reflective of the play and continued to play as we had … we then found ourselves in clear ascendancy as we pushed to try and get a score before half time .. with both Fresh and Sophie making clear line breaks only the excellent Haringey full back kept us out .. and with an attacking lineout on Haringey’s 5 metre line had a real opportunity .. completing the catch and setting for a driving maul sent Haringey backwards at a rate only for the ref to blow and say they weren’t competing therefore the maul was never formed .. whilst they hadn’t competed for the jump I did feel they engaged at the maul .. a fine call that didn’t go our way … and with a final push from the restart Haringey kept us out 15-0 at half-time.

It felt not right I think 10-5 would have been a fairer reflection as the forwards had dominated from 20 mins on and a few 50-50s didn’t go with us …. The second half we talked about patience and continuing how we were because we would have to create chances … Our intensity was excellent Katie and Tracy were linking well and we were pushing Haringey back .. Our intensity was beginning to have an effect as Haringey were not maintaining theirs .we started to turn some ball over and the counter rucking had been excellent all day .. Amy and Freya / Daisy and Fran making excellent breaks pushing us forward .. Haringey were tackling a bit high and the ref was warning them as we started to ramp up the pressure again the full back stopped 2 clean line breaks … and she was to prove a real thorn in our sides … from another penalty in the centre we got some real go forward and Amy decided she was going to score .. with 3 or 4 Haringey players hanging off her she drove to the line and scored under the posts … missing the conversion .. because we rushed it ?? …. We restarted … the game was now very much about us .. on the front foot with everybody contributing from the bench and then returning to keep things fresh .. Haringey managed to get a break from midfield and went up the line managing to keep the ball live … and when they finally got to score in the corner again .. there was a little murmuring as the girl had gone someway into touch and not been flagged … now previously this would have caused a meltdown .. but we refocussed and just played even better …. At 20-5 with 20 mins or so left we had time and the ascendancy … the full back managed to stop another of our clean breaks ..and this was getting on my nerves a bit to be honest … from a penalty Katie moved the ball Tracey to Fresh and we had moved Sophie to inside centre and she had enough room this time to accelerate away and score behind the posts and with Tracey making the conversion 20-12 with a good 10 minutes or so left ..Haringey were losing players to our intensity and they had received a yellow card for repeated high tackling we really did have the bit between our teeth but just could not get past the fullback who had a terrific game … when finally the ref blew for the end … whilst it had been a really good game and fiercely contested by both sides it felt like we could have won the game …

However for us it shows you Ladies you can compete with the top teams in this league .. we need to show more confidence and the effort of yesterday all the time every game and we will be right in there ….

Well done to you all .. can’t really separate anybody as stand out .. Abbie and Amy are a force and when supported by the rest of the forwards it’s an irresistible force… Ellen and Sophie are pocket rockets if we can get the ball to them … Katie had a good game at scrum half and and and … everybody was truly excellent… too difficult to separate out … which is a massive positive … this team if it can play together more than once will go places …..

It didn’t feel like a loss because of the great rugby played .. and to be honest if we played with that heart and determination every time and lost every time it wouldn’t matter …. But let me assure you if we play like that every time we will win more than we lose ……. Final note we had a young referee yesterday who was extremely good ….. think he should get a mention ….

Ladies vs Royston

So on what is always a poignant day Stockwood Ladies entertained a new team to us, who have a similar record to our own this year and to what on paper should be a close encounter ….

Well as ever in Sport should never guess and should react to whats in front of you .. We had a full squad of 22 albeit a little inexperienced in certain areas .. without 4 or 5 regular starters this is still a great sign as we have serious depth of squad and we should be happy about that ..The only issue from a Coaches point of view … we haven’t started with the same team once this year … which effects continuity a bit …

With Annie hurting her ankle prior to the start .. that meant a slight adjustment to the starting lineup and big thanks to Cat for taking up the reigns of fullback … if you don’t play there it isn’t easy and I thought she made a great job of it …

After we had all paid our respects to the fallen of 100 yrs ago we were ready to start .. we had warmed up well and appeared up for it .. we ko ..Sophie chases it down and makes her tackle …unfortunately she wasn’t followed by anybody else .. Royston pop the ball off to their inside centre who was …fit ,athletic,strong and very quick …. And she proceeded to run around us all … Sophie to her immense credit ..chased her all the way from their 22 to 5 meters from our line where she caught her and brought her down .. the ball came out of her hands and bounced “ forward” I believe but in the refs defence none of us could have kept up with those two … and the supporting player scooped up and scored in the corner …. Less than a minute gone and 5-0 down … .and when she did the same thing 5 mins later at 12-0 and no time gone it was looking like a long afternoon ..

After another score to take it to 17-0 .. .we started to get involved a bit and from decent possession we kept the ball alive and through several phases Daisy managed to force herself over in the corner to put us back in the game …

To be fair the Royston forwards looked like they were backing off a bit as we were hitting with a bit more intensity … but we didn’t maintain it and became a little passive and that is dangerous with the pace that Royston had …

Without prolonging the agony Royston scored another twice to take the score out to 27 -5 .. but for the last 5-6 mins of the first half was our best spell worked as a group good passing good support and looked as if Tracey had scored but was given as a knock on ..we then won the scrum against the head and Cat and Ellen nearly combined to score in the corner only to be forced into touch for half-time…

The second half started exactly like the first and the first possession Royston had they scored and well that was that really ..with another score quickly at 37-5 we were struggling … Royston played good rugby with a structure and intensity that we never matched .. clearly they had a lethal weapon who was a constant thorn and indeed scored 5 tries I believe but they had other good players as well and when you don’t have the ball its all about DEFENCE … we have worked on line speed drift defence communicating with each other .. it seems that sometimes in the heat of the battle our confidence falls and therefore our thought processes aren’t clear either …

The score had racked up to 64 -5 when we managed to thwart an attack turn the ball over and with a perfectly timed pass from Hazel our own pocket rocket had the whole pitch and nobody in front of her and duly scored in the corner as she had a foot race with the aforementioned lethal weapon and won this time …. So at 64-10 .. not quite what we were hoping for … but the best side won and as we do never gave up kept fighting until the last.

I would like to mention though some real positives from the day Emma ,came on to debut and had a great impact to the point she was awarded forward of the match … I thought Shania had a really good game was involved a lot on the ball .. the evergreen Cath worked tirelessly and Hannah Thomas tried to cover everywhere … Freya had a good Impact off the bench and Fresh returning to the scrum seemed to relish the battle .. Charlie also made her full debut and perhaps for one of your first ever 15 aside games came up against somebody she wont face that often .. a real baptism of fire .. as already mentioned Cat did well in a foreign position and I thought both our wingers Ellen and Sophie did what they had to do when required …. Finally without running through the whole Team .. .I want to give the Captain a mention, under difficult circumstances always was positive and always tried her hardest and was at the front in trying to defend… cant ask much more of your Captain but to give her all ….

Finally if its ok to indulge myself a bit …. In the 14 mths or so that we have come together as a squad .. losing players , gaining players , injuries ,birthdays and holidays etc … we still have put out a team .. and we should be really proud of that commitment from the whole team … it feels like we have stepped backwards a bit … but actually that isn’t the case .. we are in a stronger position now than we have been I would suggest ever … when we have the whole squad available we will have a strong team and a strong bench and it will be difficult to choose … I look forward to that day ….

Next week its Haringey .. so another game to raise ourselves for . Come on the Park …

Ladies hold a lead against Harlow

On what was an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon .. the Ladies embarked on their first big day out of the season ..with a Coach full of players and supporters to Harlows lovely new ground and facilities ..
Harlow shorn of players through injuries and unavailability had already discussed with us about lending 3 players to make a 14 aside fixture as they had 11 ..
Ourselves with 19 also down from our normal with unavailability but still a decent squad ….

All seemed well as after 3 mins or so we drove forward set the ball back passed it out wide and Sophie did the rest with her blistering pace to outsprint Harlows fullback who was no slouch herself … 5-0
However after an injury to Lisa our generosity came back at us a bit and with Annie also needing a break ..suddenly Fresh was at Fullback and Fran inside centre … Clearly this threw us a bit and despite having the majority of play we seemed a bit disjointed and lacked a bit of intensity .. and with people in positions they were not used to confidence appeared low as well.

At half-time it was still 5-0 but we just hadn’t got the ball wide .. I think this galvanized Harlow a bit and with their very good scrum half and 15 …kept us very honest …
With Danny also coming out into the backs we had forwards as backs and when “ strangely” Harlow players started arriving .. Not really being sure of the laws and wanting to ensure fairness we continued to lend….
Finally playing a bit of Rugby we pushed the ball through hands Danny fixed the full back and off loaded to Sophie who was motoring up the outside to cross in the corner and push us out to 10-0 up … with 20 mins or so left ..

This was the stage when this game really sparked into life … the ref decided everything we did was wrong and myself included didn’t help this fact and with Harlows fresh players having an impact we were under the cosh a bit … being penalised with a penalty try and a separate yellow card .. the nerves were suddenly on edge … with skills being put under pressure and starting to fail and some poor judgement it didn’t feel good……. But its at these times that being Stockwood Parks Head Coach brings me immense pride …. We do not lay down ,and whilst we may have felt some injustice we would not let it define the day holding the ball up twice as Harlow threw the kitchen sink at us … turning over possession by holding the player up in a maul 5 mtrs from our line on 2 other occasions … was truly magnificent defence …. and whilst at the whistle there was a subdued response we had emerged successful …..
I thought about lots of things to write about in this report … but thought better of it …. There are bigger things to worry about nowadays and with members of our squad showing up despite any personal situations brings it all into focus ,but this escape on a Sunday afternoon watching friends work so hard for each other and some selflessly playing for the other team is what we are all about …. We have become harder to beat and we have got some better skills …but we must not lose the heartbeat of our side which is the togetherness the camaraderie …. I include myself when I say that our expectations of ourselves have risen and we need to manage these a little better .. we must continue to play with a smile whilst trying to improve …but not at all costs …. Winning is important as that’s what competition is about but its not everything and I would do well to remember this myself..

To Charlie ,Claire and FAY ..thanks so much for your selflessness and commitment and I know you all benefitted from getting a full 60 mins rugby in ..

We take a break from the league this coming weekend and perhaps that’s a good thing with a CUP match where we can perhaps just look to express ourselves a bit …..

Final score HARLOW 7 V 10 Stockwood Park …..

Game on game improvement from the ladies

On what proved to be a rather Warm Sunday afternoon Stockwood Ladies entertained Hitchin on the first home league game of the season , with none of the local teams having Ladies Rugby Hitchin is pretty well a local Derby ..
We have never beaten Hitchin as over the years they have had an established Ladies team and good numbers and good coaching .. we are in the second year of our Journey with a New Coach and we are learning with every game ..

With some of our more established squad away or indisposed it was a chance for some of the younger members of the squad to put their hands up …and put their hands up they did…

We had talked about last week’s rustiness and that the second half was ok but this week we couldn’t afford a slow start .. especially as Hitchin hammered last year’s runners up by 50 pts the previous week.
We talked about asserting ourselves individually and therefore collectively taking responsibility for our own performance and not coming off the field at the end feeling .” I could have done better”

We started very well , on the front foot and Hitchin couldn’t get out of their half .. the forwards were retaining the ball well and even when we lost possession Amy and Abbie ( the terrible twosome) would stop Hitchin and often turn the ball back over. With Hannah Thomas belying her tender age of 17/18 with her real intensity and the returning Kristie having a real impact , Hitchin were put on the back foot … The game was becoming a real tussle but both teams were trying to play rugby and get the backs involved whenever they could … Stockwoods New backline of Tracey , Cat ,Pariese and Ellen on one wing Chloe on the other ..were up fast and making their tackles .. I don’t think there was a clear line break by either side in the first half which shows how evenly matched the teams were .. the last fifteen of the half where some changes had been made by both sides due to the sheer physical intensity of the game , was played more in Stockwoods half but the defensive structure was awesome with the girls working for each other and defending on the front foot and when Hitchin did finally break the line out wide .. Annie was there to crash their winger into touch as she was about to score … Hitchin have a big second row and she is very adept at keeping herself moving .. we had been double teaming her and stopping her in her tracks .. when she finally did get some momentum and crashed over Amy had made sure she was underneath her and held her up …
Finally turning the ball over Tracey cleared to touch and relieved the pressure .. and the half was up .. 0-0 and a very entertaining game played in a great spirit and with 2 focussed teams not letting up … Dara (Yorkshiiiire ) Cath ,Kristie, Leeanne, Amy, Hannah, Ally , Daisy and Abbie had been a magnificent unit and with Tracey , Cat and the rest of the backs looking good also … Katie making loads of tackles leading from the front as a Captain should .. it was really a very good half of Rugby

Second half was always going to be difficult with the effort that had been put in but the rotation and squad numbers always allowed for a bit of a breather .. not forgetting Hitchin who had worked hard also … however they pounced on an early mistake to put some pressure on us but like in the first half were met generally with a brick wall , the big second row finally managed to get a small break and although she was tackled managed to stretch and get the ball down … with the conversion missed the way the game was going this might have been the only score .. swapping a few things around again due to some minor injuries that need attending Hitchin took advantage of this and scored again this time the conversion was made …. With about ten minutes to go clearly Hitchin were starting to flag and after a great tackle at the stand in fullback Catherine .. we started to create some gaps with Pariese breaking through and driving into Hitchens half we looked like we might have time to get back into this .. with 5 mins to go Pariese again made a clean break and was through with only yds. to go she was caught .. but if she had dived forward I am sure she would have scored … but maintained possession and set it back for the support that was there only for Hitchin to dive over the ball .. ref allowed it unfortunately which gave them chance to clear .. we were knocking on the door now and with Daisy and Katie and most of the others going for it …couldn’t quite open it .. we moved the ball wide and with the overlap it looked sure Ellen would score but the pass was high and she had to stretch a bit which unfortunately meant she couldn’t gather it and with that the whistle blew for the end ….

We always look for indicators for improvement and Hitchin are a good barometer as the last scores have been 90-0 55-0 25-0 and now 12-0 and we should have scored at least once shows how far we have come as a side .. with 30+ signed on and some friendlies being booked Ladies Rugby at Stockwood is in a good place … now it’s starting to be good on the field as well ….. Abbie was my player of the match ..simply everywhere and Pariese and Sophie have shown us a glimpse of the future … and wow its exciting ….
Finally I can’t let the game go without a mention for Cathy Edmonds .. one of our older members but you wouldn’t know it the effort she puts in .. always gives 100% or more she truly is a terrific role model and we would really miss her is she is not around … look at Cath girls ..do half of what she does and we will be in a great position ….

Tabard vs Stockwood Park Ladies

So after all the pre –season training the first League game arrives with a trip to Tabard ,a team historically well coached but a team we have never played ..
Once again the Stockwood Squad was strong and large with the full 22 and some watching … this in this league will always stand us in good stead due to the awarding of a point for a full squad even if you lose.
Whilst pre-season having not been perfect in as much as we couldn’t get any game time prior to today , everything else had been excellent so we arrived in good shape … and warmed up really well and appeared focused.

We had to lend Tabard 2 girls Lee-Anne and Pariese two of our newer recruits but important for them both to experience a game so this was a good opportunity.

The pitch was hard and wide .. but we had some gas out wide so hopefully we could use that to some good effect…
The game started with a hard hit from Hazel .. but in terms of aggression that was one of a few in the early stages of the game .. we looked rusty and a little slow , the scrum wasn’t functioning but the girls identified the issue themselves and after 15 mins or so had sorted that out …. The game was very even for this time but we were a little narrow and passive which I feel gave Tabard some confidence ,and it allowed them to play a bit .. they had a good no 12 who was very quick and after winning a ruck in the middle of our 22 they swung the ball wide we didn’t have enough defenders and she ran around us to score under the posts and convert….

This galvanized us a bit and we worked our way into their 22 and were starting to build some pressure when Debs appeared to twist her ankle and had to be swapped with Fresh… Wether this broke our concentration a bit I am not sure but we lost possession and Tabard got a couple of phases together from a ruck again to the right of the field we had managed to turn the ball over only for the girl to play it off the floor so they could maintain possession and with 12 running a great line coming from deep burst through at least 3 tackles and scored once again under the posts 14-0 with 10 minutes or so left in the half …

We were rusty and it was showing and needed to work a little harder … from the restart we managed to get some good field position and played with a bit more intensity Dara and Fresh had made an impact bringing the ball forward and with us keeping possession for the first time moved out to Fresh who using Eleanor and Chloe as decoys cut back inside to score under the posts … the first real time we went wide and benefitted from it and with Tracey converting it put us back in the game …..

With half time approaching we were starting to have a bit more possession , but the whistle came a bit early for us.

With Lisa swapping for Chloe who had , had a pretty good half albeit she hadn’t seen much of the ball Hannah on for Freya , Faye into the game as well pretty well everybody was getting a run out ….

We started much better in the second half but were guilty of not moving the ball wide .. and this arm wrestle often ended in a knock on or losing possession … we were not accurate at the breakdown and their no 8 was great at getting over the ball … .. from centre field the no 12 again was given too much room and sent up a kick across and into the corner ..Annie was covering well but the bounce of the ball was cruel on the hard ground and looped over her and with the Tabard no 9 up in support gathered and raced under the posts again …
This was unlucky but it was a good attempt that came off and at 21-7 we had some work to do ..

I think its probably fair to say that we started to get the upper hand now as clearly Tabard were tired and our forwards were getting more of the ball … we moved the ball nicely again and with Eleanor and Ellen combining this time Ellen scored in the corner with perhaps her first opportunity .. and at 21 -12 and ten minutes to go it was anybodies game.

Whoever scored next would probably win … and with our large squad Tabard were clearly tiring fast … however the best player on the pitch would have the final say .. and the no 12 stepped up again after some good hands and accelerated around onto a marginally forward pass and despite the best efforts scored again and with the conversion made at 28-12 5 mins left …

We tried manfully to get into the game again but were forced into touch on the 5 meter line and the ref blew for time ….
We needed the game it was clear .. and there are greater challenges to come .. but this is the start of our second season as a group and we are growing in numbers and experience but we are still young in many ways

I used the word disappointed after the game and perhaps that’s a sign of the development we have made .. we have played better and can but that’s sport right .. it was a close game and could have gone either way but Tabard had that fraction more quality when it was needed … this will come for us … chins up Ladies we go again …

Finally a Special mention for Eleanor Bull ..she is leaving us to go to Uni .. Eleanor has been here from the start and we will miss her not only for her tackling and ..she doesn’t miss many … but for her big smile and cheery attitude ..

Always a place for you here stay in touch and if your down let us know.

And to Pariese and Lee-anne thanks you for your attitudes at the weekend and your commitment on the field .. albeit against us it will stand us well in the future …..

Stockwood ladies end on high note

Once again Stockwood Ladies were on the road       to play Hampstead Ladies in the final  League game of the season …

With .. Aimee. Daisy, Annie ,Fran, Claire Sl Alice Lisa,Hazel,Debbie ,Fay and Shania either unavailable or injured we still managed to travel with  19…. This has been  simply fantastic ,the depth of the squad, all season has been a constant strength and something as Head Coach I am immensely proud of

Now when you consider that Hampstead are second and believe that they can still win the league this wasn’t going to be easy .. the return fixture saw us go down 65-5  so needless to say

We had our work cut out …….

I was going to go through the game as normal but it is becoming increasingly difficult to single out performances when as a team the collective will to win and never give up is truly awesome ..

Hampstead came at us hard from the start  but we were up for the battle and whilst having to work really hard we managed to keep them at bay whilst creating little breaks of our own .. perhaps the intensity of it all made us switch off for a second and Hampstead’s 10 managed to avoid three tackles and score under the posts … I think all three girls were disappointed at not making the tackle .. but that’s the game right …. This spurred Hampstead on and managed to force themselves over again from a penalty near the line to take a 12-0 advantage after 20 mins or so

The next 15 mins was all us we pushed back and tackled and counter rucked did a nice inside move and started to work our way up the pitch .. Fresh deciding to come to the game earlier than normal managed one of her breaks and was away .. getting caught she set back to the advancing Stocks in support with the ball finally going to Cat ..who found the clear space to score under the posts and with Tracey making the conversion we were right back in it. 12-7 at half time ..

The second half started much the same but more in the middle of the park ..and we were holding our own  but once again just switched off for a second and Hampstead just had enough to score and convert taking them 19-7 in front ….. that meant we needed to score twice at least … we made a couple of clean breaks with only the fullback to beat .. she managed to make the tackle but I use that word  loosely as I think another REF could easily have decided they were trips … real borderline ….

Hampstead managed to withstand our little period of dominance and return to an arm wrestle in the middle of the pitch..breaking out once more to score one more time before the end to finish up 24-7 winners ..

This was a great performance by us and a fantastic way to finish the year … we have so much opportunity to continue growing that we hopefully will be a force to be reckoned with next year .

Whilst this was a massive positive for us it is tinged with a little sadness.. as 3 of the regular players are moving on with their lives …. Irish ,Eleanor and Cath  for different reasons won’t be with us next year and from my point of view I wanted to publicly thank them for their commitment and effort this year all 3 have played pretty well every game and have been amazingly consistent … I know we will all miss them very much not just for their playing ability but as people… I wish them well for their  futures and there will always be a place at Stockwood Park for them .

The Ladies have a tour to look forward to travelling to France  soon …. Although listening to the plans I am not sure how much Rugby will be played …

Then it’s all about next year … can’t wait ….      Keith Head Coach Stockwood Park Ladies ….a title I am honoured to have …thank you Ladies so much …..