Category: Ladies Match Report

Ladies vs St Neots

On Sunday the Park saw the visit of St Neots; a team we hadn’t played previously and an unknown quantity. This was the 3rd fixture of the season after a brave loss at early pacesetters Old Northamptonians, and a chance to get back on track.
It’s worth mentioning that at this point since last year’s campaign Park have lost 10 players to injury/pregnancy and university. This is a large number and can affect any team, but here we are with a squad of 22 for matchday: an exceptional statistic that we must be rightly proud of. With league debuts in certain positions, we talked about starting with intensity and defending going forward. On a much better day than forecast, we are set and away we go.

Early exchanges looked good and we hit the breakdown hard and won the ball convincingly, with Katie shifting the ball quickly to Aimee at 10 she was looking to release Debs and Fresh and ultimately Ellen and Chloe. St Neots were up enough to disrupt the flow, just about stopping 2 or 3 really promising breaks, to be honest, we should have scored in that first 10 minutes or so. From deep in their own half and under pressure, St Neots’ 15 found some space, with 2 or 3 missed tackles, she found herself clear. Kim did enough to slow her down but she had the support and St Neots were first to score, with the conversion made 7-0 after 12 minutes and a little against the run of play. Swapping a few things around, Charli was on for Katie who’s 10k run was taking its toll, she harried and chased and pushed us forward and we all started to defend on the front foot, putting on the pressure really started to tell as St Neots starting making errors. This galvanized us a bit and we pushed St Neots back and with the forwards working hard, pretty much the rest of the half was stationed in St Neots’ territory. From a penalty we had several attempts at getting over the line, only to be thwarted or make the wrong decision. Finally, Abbie cutting a line back in, managed to crash over and get Park on the board, and at 20 minutes the score was 5-7.

We began to push a bit more with Debs and Fresh running hard at their back line, St Neots never backed off but it was at this point they looked to be getting very tired and this was our opportunity, but we never took it. The 10, 12-15 axis was their strength and we were giving them too much time, as perhaps, we were tiring ourselves. Again, from another deep position, the 9 managed to get free and run full length and score. At 5-12 things weren’t going quite right, they had had 2 attacks and scored, but we were camped in their half but couldn’t work the space. Credit to St Neots for their defence, albeit they got away with playing the ball on the floor rather a lot.

From a penalty, Daisy took the ball in, with four players on her she went down and heard the infamous ‘pop’ of a knee, an ambulance was called due to not knowing if there was another injury too. Fortunately there is nothing broken but the full diagnosis is not yet known. The referee called half time 5 minutes early and we moved pitches. It’s never easy when a team mate gets hurt as your mind is with them, but we did start the second half where we had left off, and, under pressure, St Neots were panicking a bit. We managed to move the ball to Debs who twisted and turned to dive over, with Tracey converting, the scores were tied.
At 12-12 the feeling was of dominance as we continued to have pressure, but all of a sudden there was a collective drop in intensity, this lead to St Neots being allowed to play a bit, we were almost immediately punished, with another score close behind leaving the score at 12-26 – we needed to reassert ourselves quickly. Some 50-50s went against us, and for the second time we seemed to lack something in the last 15 minutes, especially after another score was awarded even though the line judge flagged for a foot in touch.
I don’t like saying it as it is not a true reflection of the Ladies, but perhaps with the Captain’s injury playing on minds, we seemed to have no energy left. With another score, at 12-26 the game was gone. However, we were to have the final say and returning to domination. Fresh forced her way over for a thoroughly deserved try, as the last play of the day, it was a 17-36 loss.

There were huge positives from some of the structure and play, I could point at something positive for every player. We just switched off as a unit, falling off tackles; which proves vital in a far more competitive league than last year. Although we have lost players, we are re-inventing ourselves which Steve, Gary and I are confident in. We have a small break before the next game (20th October), so plenty of time to put things right.

Forward of the match: Pariese Roberts
Back(s) of the match: Aimee Aslam and Faye Anderson
Gnome one like you: Ellen Walsh

Ladies take the heat

So, with the second week of the league campaign upon us Park had a trip to Northampton; traditionally a strong Rugby town, with ONs potentially one of the strongest clubs in the area. The changes in the league this year with new oppositions, and ONs being relegated from the division above, it was never going to be easy. Park are developing and improving week on week but today in what can only be described as conditions like playing in the Transvaal (hot and rock-hard ground), this would make the challenge even harder coupled with potentially 4 or 5 East Midlands players to contend with this could prove daunting.

So, the game really took part in two halves, (doh! I heard you say, but bear with me), especially as the pitch was sloped and the wind was blowing down it. The key was to take advantaged of the conditions when we could. We kicked off and the ball was knocked on just outside of ONs 22; we stayed there for the next ten minutes or so. A very competitive forwards competition was brewing and our backs line speed was quick enough to force errors in handling. We were comfortable at the scrum, with Katie feeding Aimee (her first competitive league game in 2 years), who shipped the ball well to Eleanor and Sophie, who were always a threat with Ellen also on the wing. If we could move it fast enough we would have a chance. ONs however, had a solid defence and were particularly good at the breakdown, with the second person in very quickly onto the ball. From one of these steals practically on their own line, they managed to break away and their elusive 11 got them up to our 22 before she was caught by Sophie M.

From here ONs kept possession well but we were keeping them at bay. However, working hard, they finally managed to overlap for their fast 11 to get over the whitewash for the first score of the day. At 5-0 with only 15 minutes or so passed, it was disappointing, especially as we had probably hashed a couple of our own opportunities prior to this, with the first real possession for ONs ending in a score. However, this galvanised us as we had some confidence from being toe to toe with this experienced team. Finally, putting some good passes together, Sophie M had enough space to sprint away and score under the posts, with Tracey adding the extra 2 points. With 20 minutes gone it was 5-7 to Stockwood.

Stockwood’s efforts were beginning to have an effect as ONs didn’t seem to like the fact that we were being competitive, and there was a bit of an arm wrestle beginning to happen. The game was mainly in the middle of the pitch with thrust and counter thrust being thwarted. Unfortunately, we were just not using our possession well enough and were starting to drop off a bit. ONs managed to create a bit more space again for the 11 to run in and score behind the posts the conversion making it 12-7 to ONs at half time.

The heat and the ground had had an effect, with Daisy off just after half time with a knee injury, and a few others suffering. But we had a squad of 21 so could swap about, the only thing being that a few people were slightly out of position. Whilst it is a credit to us to be able to do this, it can be a bit destabilising, especially under pressure. The opposition were also changing with injuries, but it appeared like for like. Tracey had come out to fly half as Aimee had come off to protect her knee; we have a long season and need to get through it with everyone intact. This year, more than the past two, the whole squad will be stretched as the league appears to be the most competitive we have played in.

The first 10 minutes of the second half were back to something of a competition, even though ONs had managed to get over again, at 19-7 we needed to score next to reassert ourselves. However, we were coughing up possession and defending by letting them come at us rather than going to them. It was getting a bit feisty, with the RFU protocols on concussion and protection of the head, I am not sure why they are yet to stop hand offs to the face which are always contentious as if the arm isn’t dead straight it’s either a punch or a slap. We have hearts of lions, and whilst not necessarily helping ourselves, we never give up and in the heat and with another score converted, at 26-7 the game was gone; there was no doubting that we appeared out on our feet. With two more scores from ONs to finish the game completely, in the end it looked a comfortable victory; I would say it was anything but and the fact that 19 of the 36 points were scored in the last 10 minutes points to that fact.

Despite the victory for ONs, I feel another big learning curve for us, our structure was pretty good and the lineouts and scrums were good all day. With Chloe and Catherine sharing wing duties for potentially the longest league game time, Kristie playing her first game in ages, along with Aimee. Claire H had only her second game ever, against a team of this standing, and was truly excellent. We never took our opportunities when they arrived and ONs experience told in the end. Hopefully by the time the next game is around, Fresh, Debs, Fran, Charli, Lisa, Emma and Sophie K will be fit and available; add these seven to any squad and we have just got stronger. We are becoming a strong squad and sometimes just need days like this to grow, and that is what will happen.

Forward of the match: Shania Mulvihill – tackling left, right and centre; she was everywhere
Back of the match: Sophie Maddock – the fastest person on the field, with the compliment of 2 people marking her
Gnome one like you: Catherine ‘Swing’dell – showing an alternative tackling style, effective, nonetheless

A rest on Tuesday then 5 Training sessions before next game. We are shaping up well despite changes going on.

OWTP!

Ladies in good win against Aylesbury

Sunday 8th September saw Stockwood Huns having the pleasure of visiting Aylesbury RFC for a friendly match, hastily arranged after the first league game had been awarded as a Walk Over due to lack of numbers from Tabard.

Aylesbury had had the same thing happen to them so it was good that both teams could get a run out. There could be no excuses made around playing conditions, with Aylesbury’s tremendous facilities; a 4G pitch, and the sun shining down. They have a new side entering the league just this year, but as a club they are well established so no doubt they would have good coaching and numbers, they also ran an Inner Warrior session prior to our game which was well attended
and seemed to be a great success.

With Abbie breaking down (car) and Dara feeling stiff from training we had a pretty novice front row, with Claire and P having had one training session and some pre-match coaching as preparation. With Hazel and Shania both having experience at front row but not much game time, we should have enough cover to keep the game competitive from a scrum point of view. With Debs’ knee still hurting she was the other absentee on the day, but we still had 21 players: it never stops amazing me how we, as a group, manage to dovetail so well to always have a strong squad.

The game started well, we had good intensity and with lovely hands went wide and fixed players prior to passing, giving Sophie the space she needs to accelerate away and score in the corner; last time out we took a rest when this happened but today we maintained the level and to be fair were a constant threat. The ref seemed to like a scrum as there were rather a lot but we were generally in control of the ball, Aylesbury defended well and put numbers at the breakdown which sometimes meant it was a bit messy but generally both sides played with a good structure. We never moved out of Aylesbury territory for all the first half, as our scrum half Charli and backs Sophie, Fresh, Eleanor, Lisa and the other Sophie were all over Aylesbury forcing them to panic a bit and cough up possession.

Sophie and Hazel had to go off with a bit of a knock meaning Tracey took over at fly half and P and Claire H were on for debuts in the positions. With Kim at fullback doing very little it showed the general dominance of the ball, Sophie scored a second that was ruled out after being allowed to beat 6 defenders and run half the length of the pitch for a knock on, so to be fair we had butchered a few chances to score with a hesitance in the decision making after playing some really good rugby to create the situation. Some credit must go to Aylesbury who never backed down, but at half-time and only 5-0 it was tighter than it should have been.

With the instructions to use the ball in the wider channels, the second half started even faster than the first with a sublime backs move of passing perfection to set Sophie away again to score under the posts this time for Tracey to convert. You could see that Aylesbury were hit by this a bit and now was the time to push the foot down, again to Aylesbury’s immense credit, they defended with real gusto but in the end the strangle hold we had on the back line was complete. A fantastic drive-forward move coupled with off-loading kept the ball flowing for Fresh to get on to it to beat the fine three defenders to register her 1st try of the season. At 17-0, with Kim joining the line and Dais taking a rest it was time for Ellen to have her first run out, with Cath Swindell also getting on with 15 mins to go, this was possibly our most inexperienced side we had played in sometime. Once again we showed some lovely hands; Eleanor had been terrific all day with this to create an overload for Ellen to finish with aplomb. With Sophie having had another flowing move chalked off for a foot in touch (she swears not) we were now turning the screw.

We were pretty well holed up in Aylesbury’s 22 for the last 5-mins or so as they gallantly tried to come at us, but our own defence had been good all day and they were going nowhere, at the final whistle it was 22-0 and we’d had a good workout.

Aylesbury should take heart of the biggest compliment I can give them; they look like they have played as a team for some time, despite this being their first 15 aside run out. They are good in defence, and once they find some attacking verve they will be dangerous side. For us this has helped immensely improve the depth and strength of our squad; with cover at Hooker and Prop, Chloe and Ally playing longer than for some time, and doing well, and Tracey covering at fly half – if the other 2 are not around we will be fine.

But a special mention this week goes to our scrum half Charli who was everywhere causing them all sorts of problems and just being a nuisance, then delivering the ball out for the girls outside her to do their thing, it was almost the complete performance. When you consider that regular scrum half Katie was also very good when she played last, I have a headache and that’s a good place to be.

Another shout out to Hannah, as she plays her last game with us for a while as she heads off to university at the weekend. Your lineout jumping will definitely be missed.

Onwards next week is a big challenge; Old Northamptonians away, a long established high level club. It is imperative we have good numbers at training this week so we are ready, but today was very well done and a pleasure to watch.

Forward of the match: Pariese Roberts
Back of the match: Charli Bligh
Gnome one like you: Chloe Wrench

OWTP!

Keith Head Coach

Ladies vs Fullerians

So here we go again, the 2019-20 season is upon us…

With Stockwood Ladies finishing last season with a flourish (unbeaten since the Christmas break), the coaches and team are really looking forward to this season to continue to further our development. With the RFU swapping the leagues around, we do feel on the back foot with the majority of games now against unknown sides, however, we will always turn up with a strong mindset and play our game, home or away. With changes in personnel due to injury and ventures to university, we will view this season in terms of performance rather than results as it feels as though we need to redevelop, especially as some key positions have been affected by the changes. Nevertheless, we still have a large squad of good players and just need to gel into a team again, which I know will happen. The opportunity to play Fullerians under the lights on a Friday evening was a good one. Splitting the game into twenty-minute sections ensured every one of the 24-strong squad could get a run out and try different plays, with the added bonus of highlighting what needs tweaking.

The game started fast; we gained possession very quickly and passing through hands shipped the ball out to Sophie M, turning on the afterburners and running it in under the post. A great start albeit Sophie K couldn’t add the extras. We had started in those first 5 minutes with energy and aggression at the breakdown from Fran, Dara, Cathy, Tracey, Hazel, Daisy, Lee-Anne and Hannah, however, after we had scored, this dissipated. We were not helped by having non-contested scrums, as Fullerians were a much smaller pack and this would have clearly affected the game. By becoming passive we allowed Fullerians to get into the game and they had a decent 10-12 and 15, who suddenly found they had the ball and were not under any real pressure. Despite some brave tackling from Eleanor, Fullerians got back into the game with a try in the corner. The Huns kept giving possession away with some sloppy handling which was compounded by the fact that in the first 20 minutes or so Fullerians had no real shape. This was proving a bit of a mind bend to the girls and without our own discipline, Fullerians scored again and added the extras. The first 20 minutes showed our rustiness, and with the opposition having played two games already, they were a little ahead.

The next 20 minutes however, having been asked for more aggression and care of the ball, we had some real ‘go forward’. The truth is, we pretty well dominated this section of the game. The forwards were no longer watching, pushing Fullerians back, Captain Daisy started to make ground with every carry and with the team in close support, possession was good. Handling improved, and off the back of a scrum, Daisy went blind and crashed over, coupled with Sophie M out wide resulted in an unanswered 10 points for the Park in our best passage of play. Katie marshalled well, Sophie K settled in at 10, and with Charli and Kimberley making important tackles; it was looking so much better.

The final 20 minutes: Sometimes it is easier to leave things as they are as this creates a better continuity, but what we needed was for everybody to play and have a go. So, the changes were made. Aimee; for her first game in 18 months after injury lay off, Claire; never having played a game in her life, and Chloe back after a short sabbatical. Fullerians had a smaller squad so made little changes, which is less disruptive to play, which in the end proved crucial as they started to regain possession, whereas we were getting tired. I had an urge to change it up with 5 minutes to go, but held off as we are a squad and all 24 needed to have the time. Fullerians were kept at bay for quite a while, however, we had the odd decision not go in our favour when in attacking positions. Fullerians managed to score twice more and with one conversion, took the score to 24-20. Despite a finale burst where we looked like we might score to snatch it, there was a knock on and the final whistle blew.

What we needed from the game I felt we achieved, Rugby is not an easy game and you do need to be match ready; we were not quite. But that’s the point of it as we will be ready for the next game which is more important as the league season begins!

Finally, as I move into my 3rd year of coaching this wonderful group, we have faced every challenge that has come our way with grit and determination and more often than note, come out the other side smiling. The group has been hit hard by injuries to players and others moving to different stages in their lives, but we are still here and we are still giving 100% and that’s all I ever ask for. Looking around the leagues, it appears some teams are struggling for numbers; we have picked up new players that will keep our story going, and having a great time on the way, we should be grateful.

Mentions:

Kimberly Grant: 1st time at Fullback – great job

Claire Hawes: 1st ever game – great job

Aimee Aslam: Back from injury – great job

Sophie King: 1st proper run out at 10 – great job

Charli Bligh & Katie Stapleton: Scrum half’s, giving me a headache! – great job

Daisy Casemore: 1st game as captain – great job

There’s a theme here, I could probably go through the whole team but the above are some highlights. If I haven’t mentioned you, that’s because you did a ‘great job’.

Training continues, ready to build for our first league game. Bring your gum shields and your attitude: OWTP!

Keith Standring

Head Coach

Ladies vs Royston

So here we are last game of what has been a truly remarkable season  … Park were travelling to Royston for a game that was to prove a Landmark for the Huns and the 18 mths of sheer hard work and commitment.

On this Sunny Sunday on the windy Therfield Heath … we were to play Royston a team that put us to the sword early in the season albeit with an ex professional having a huge say that day …. Still whoever won today could finish second providing Hitchin beat Haringey by a large score …

Clearly though having already lost to them this season and playing away this was not to be easy .. with 2 Bad injuries picked up in training to Amy and Faye who have been regulars all season and with a few girls having other thing on it’s a measure of this group of powerful women that we still had a full squad to travel with …… this is awesome I cannot explain it any other way.

Having prepared a small speech prior to the start ,there was a good atmosphere and we had warmed up nicely .. I delivered the request to MAKE IT COUNT … every pass , every tackle … give your heart and soul , if you get knocked down get back up .   if you feel pain tell yourself you’re not in pain .. if they are tough be tougher …… Make TODAY COUNT…  .. .

Well from the kick off Sophie King collects and runs from her own 22 to be caught out on the line in Royston’s 22 and from here for the next 15- mins the game doesn’t move .. with the forwards P ,Abbie and Emma ,Cath and Shania all putting in a shift,  Daisy from 8  and Hannah Thomas who was outstanding all day setting great platforms but we just were perhaps trying too hard and not taking some very good opportunities to move the ball wide where we are really dangerous.

We had been knocking on the door now for some time and whilst Roystons defence was resolute it was narrow and we just needed to move it … finally realizing this we put a good phase together and the ball goes out to the backs with good hands finally creating the space

For Sophie King to score out wide… This was no more than we deserved but  we had taken a lot out of ourselves with Ellen and Fresh having put themselves about the fullback was also having a good game stopping them both after clean breaks …

Royston have had a good season and they have a good set of forwards who play a certain way specifically their no 8 who was always a threat .. we had dropped off a bit and Royston sensed the opportunity ..however they were suffering from a similar fate to us … I think if they had moved the ball

Wide quicker we might have had some problems but the Stockwood stone wall stood firm and apart from once when they crashed over in the corner only to be held up … with a few minutes to go to halftime we managed to exit our 22 and with great hands Emma was through only to react to a call to pass and whilst Hannah was there in support she didn’t really expect the pass and knocked it on… by this time Debbie and Freya were on P and Lee-Anne taking a rest ….

The forwards managed to create one more platform and the ball was moved quickly and with space Sophie M is so dangerous and accelerated away to score under the posts .. with Tracey converting it was 12-0 and no more than we deserved for the incredible defensive display of the previous 10 mins .

Half time and chance to regroup .. nothing is finished at half time ..but we had put a real shift in and with few options in the forwards to freshen up they were going to need to roll up their sleeves and dig in .. We did decide however to move Trace back into her traditional flanker role Sophie K to fly half and Kimberley into outside center .. and we go again ….

Royston hit hard early clearly trying to get back into the game and despite some solid tackling their impressive East Midlands player forced her way through  and despite some last ditch defence  crashed over with 2  Huns on her back .. in fairness no more than she deserved as she had kept them in the game .

With a very good conversion being made this was now interesting   12-7 ….

Asking for another 10 percent .. Ellen had now been replaced with Amber  and Ellen had been fantastic especially playing with her toe nail half off ….really gritty and Charlie for Katie … with Daisy off as well time to stand up Ladies …. Fresh decided it was time for her to put a mark on this game as we seized to wrestle the advantage back .. and only she seems to find these small gaps to burst through and so she did scoring under the posts for Tracey to convert and at 19-7 a 2 score difference …

However Royston weren’t finished and from a slight lack of concentration a quick penalty was taken they got some go forward from  yes you guessed it their very good 8, they then managed to pass it out and their winger who had very little to do finished well in the corner for an instant reply and at 19-12 with 20 minutes to go it was anybody’s game …. Making a switch pulling Debs out to outside center and P back on at Flanker it was now the moments we had asked for the hearts on the line that extra 10% from somewhere …. We have been unbeaten since Xmas and I had put that down to a MENTAL strength as a unit that I don’t see in other teams .. we are never beaten and always play to the final whistle ,only the league winners match us in this respect and as the 2 very close games against them proved …. I just felt it would be ok and this final 15 minutes was perfect as first Debs brushing people aside gets us into a good position ..eventually though the pressure was too much and with some lovely hands and support work it goes wide and Sophie ..who still had a lot to do finished in style cutting back inside beating 3 defenders to score her second of the day …This seemed to be too much for Royston now as we really started to play some good rugby and with Hannah looking to have nearly scored on 3 occasions to be pushed back the ball was re-cycled and Debs crashed over from Center  at 29-12 and with 3 minutes to play ..Royston had one last go but the Parks Stone wall stood firm and that’s how it finished ….

With the news coming through that Hitchin had beaten Haringey by 83-7 .. this was truly remarkable turnaround .. Haringey were second and unbeaten   when we played them just before Xmas … we truly believed we should have won that game and didn’t and with the terrific performance against Hitchin which a lot of people felt if we didn’t just pip them a draw would have been a fairer result..gave us the belief that we were a match for anybody.  All we could do was win our games and see what happened .. Haringey lost 4 of their last 5 we won all ours and ended up points the same .. however the points difference was in our favour and so 2nd PLACE ….

I have run out of adjectives to describe how we have played … 18 mths ago we started to play in a Division which had experienced Teams playing we have in that time gone from having big points to nil losses to finishing Runners UP it is INCREDIBLE

Ladies vs Kilburn Cosmos

So on the complete opposite of a day to our previous run out we set off for Kilburn Cosmos.. a team we always enjoy visiting a truly lovely bunch who give everything on the field and are great hosts after .
The Great News is that Kilburn have been successful with their recruitment drive and had a squad of 17 for the first time in ages and they were really looking forward to playing a “proper “ game of Rugby

We have had a tremendous commitment again this season and with 21 on the traditional Coach journey all was set .

Now with one of our greatest supporters celebrating her 60th Birthday the previous eve .. .I was worried about what condition we would all be in ..but they were all there and on time and in good spirit so no worries …

With the wind and the drizzle pretty much set it was a little cooler than the mid summers day of the previous Sunday ..but not bad conditions for the game .

We kicked off and it was clear the energy levels weren’t quite where we wanted them to be ..whilst we played pretty much the first 20 minutes in Kilburn’s half … Kilburn had a lot of the ball … but our defence was pretty good and they were going nowhere despite having possession … Debs made a couple of Breaks , Daisy and Abbie were trying but things weren’t quite coming off and we weren’t using the backs and as previously mentioned energy levels were low we were a bit passive …just not functioning quite right …. Finally moving the ball quickly Debs and Sophie combined to put Sophie M away and she finished under the posts 5-0… So it was clear we needed to create a platform move the ball wide and both Ellen and Sophie would be too quick … Having been a bit grumpy about what I was watching, for the next 15 mins or so we dominated and whilst not firing on all cylinders it was much better .. Sophie K made a great break to score and Sophie M scored twice more with Tracey converting 2 out of the 3 suddenly we were 24-0 up .
With P having a good influence when she came on .. and Ally and Chloe getting a run out it was good that the whole squad was being used … Red had a bit of a knock so Sophie K dropped to Fullback and Kimberly also came on and with Daisy also needing a break pretty much the whole squad was on …
The last 2 mins of the Half Kilburn managed to get inside our 5 metre line and despite repelling wave after wave of attack .. with Lee-Anne sin binned for penalty top -up .. Kilburn finally broke the resistance and scored a deserved try for their efforts .. although not really threatening they had played some good rugby in the first half. Despite leading 24-7 at half time its a measure of our expectation levels that we knew we could play better and with a change at scrum half with Charlie being replaced by Claire ..Charlie had had a pretty good game in fairness .. with Sophie M and Ellen taking a break it was Cath Swindell to come on to get all 21 good game time …

Playing with 14 for the first 7 mins of the second half we just picked the energy up a bit … with a few decisions going against Amy which wound her up a bit and that had the effect of some big hits going in putting us on the front fit and with Sophie K joining the line from fullback to score in the corner despite 3 Kilburn players trying to stop her it was a positive start to the second half .. from then on however it returned a bit to the pattern of the first half although possession stats were more 50-50 .. the game was played entirely in Kilburn’s 22 .. they never really threatened despite a lot of hard work … the good thing for us was that our inexperienced players Ally , Chloe , Cath Swindell , Kimberley ,Charlie and Claire …. got some pretty decent game time and all stood up to make their tackles and be generally in the right place … with Daisy returning and making some good yardage .. we still seemed reticent to move the ball wide but with 5 mins or so to go Daisy crashed over with 3 or 4 hanging on for the final score in the corner and at 34-7 complete what appears a comfortable win …. I wouldn’t describe it as that because Kilburn never give up and will become harder to play if they can keep the squad together.

However for us its now 4 wins on the bounce scoring 129 pts and conceding just 31 …. since Christmas apart from Hitchin who have won every game our form would put us second in the League and indeed having despatched the 2nd placed team last week ..its clear our huge improvement has now given us some consistency at a decent level .. and its a sign, whilst the coach was a bit moany … even after a heavy night the mental strength was there to get the job done

2 Games left this season … Home to Tabard and away to Royston .. if we win both of those then we can finish second if other results go our way … if we win both the games we can finish 3rd … however we have lost to both these teams this season so its no easy task ….. but you know what … I believe you can do it …….c’mon the Park

Match Report: Ladies vs Haringey

Stockwood Ladies entertained Haringey in the latest league game on what was a really hot Sunday afternoon in February ….

Park have been excellent since the turn of the year and especially against the top teams starting to show some real quality .

Haringey are second in the League and Park are chasing them down and today would be key if we were going to achieve this .

With London Road starting to become a fortress Park started with real intensity and in those first 10 minutes set the platform , with the forwards working really hard Fran getting her hands on the ball a lot on the fringes ,Shania getting to every breakdown first and with the terrible twosome of Abbie and Amy terrorising Haringeys forwards, Park were getting plenty of the ball . Losing possession in Haringeys 22 the oppos 10 kicked to clear her lines … with Annie sitting deep at fullback she ran on to the ball it bounced kindly straight into her hands ..and like an arrow she set off down the line , nobody got anywhere near to her and she ran under the posts for the first score and with Tracey converting 7-0 and deserved … .

Haringey are not second in the league by chance .. they raised themselves and attacked with pick and go on the fringes only to be met with great defence from Lee-Anne and Fay .. stand in Captain Daisy was making ground in counter and Haringey were struggling to get clean ball.

Park had got themselves into a bit of an arm wrestle and perhaps on occasions didn’t release the ball out wide to the dangerous Sophieees ..ie there was 2 of them … but the off loading in contact was excellent and the clean breaks started to appear and the support play was excellent .. Fran , Abbie , P ..Sophie K .. all made clean breaks and looked to have scored only for Haringey to scramble back and hold the ball up over the line … by this time Debs was having an impact and when we didn’t have the ball the tackling from Park was excellent Kimberley and Sophie K particularly standing out.. Finally Park got the second break through when P was caught yds short of the line but Kimberley was there in support to finish it off and score her first try for the club.

At Half time it was 12-0 ..but credit to Haringey as they defensively kept themselves in the game without threatening too much in attack.

In the second half the big Park squad started to bear fruit as the finishers cane on to do just that and with the offloading and support play being exceptional Park started to run away with it scores from Amy ( whole squad maul driven over the line) Claire at scrum half ..league debut … Fresh , Sophie on the wing and Finally Amber who finished off a sweeping move that took us from our own 22 to score under the posts and with Tracey Converting 3 of the tries a truly superb performance by everybody …. Haringey never gave up and in between the last 2 scores recorded a consolation of their own … final score 43-5 to Park and a real statement of intent ..

We have come so far in 18mths and I have said it many times but we now can see a real strength in depth of squad … with the Captain and previous Captain away ,Hannah on East Midlands Duty and regular wing Ellen ill …. We are in a good place …… all down to you girls remember that …

Next week Kilburn … lets keep it going …. Truly magnificent

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!