Category: Media Screen News

News posts to appear on the MultiMedia screens at the club

Ladies vs ONs

The latest fixture for Stockwood Ladies was an important day in many ways and for lots of reasons. It was against Old Northamptonians; a long established, BIG club in the East Midlands with players representing at that level too. This was the return of the early season fixture, but this time, having drawn them in the East Mids cup, this was a double header…

Soft underfoot, bright and dry, conditions were pretty good apart from a brisk wind. This season has been a strange one for the Huns with a lot of changes disrupting things a bit, but today we had the Uni girls back in our side and a big thanks to them for making the effort to travel from Birmingham, Leeds and Plymouth to bolster the squad to our more normal 22. The pre-match warm up was pretty good, I felt everybody was focused and the pre-match talk centred around heart. We may be many things as a group but when we put our hearts on the line I believe we are a match for anybody.

From the start, ONs came fast and with their excellent 13 cutting lines we were on the back foot. Stopping them at our 5-metre line, we defended pretty well from there, counter rucking and challenging the ball. ONs were retaining the ball well and have very good handling in the back line, finally the 13 found some space to go and score in the corner: 5-0. From the restart we managed to hold onto possessions better; we were rucking well with Kristie, Abbie and Dara at the forefront, Hannah and Shania on hand to take the second phase and Claire, Tracey and Cathy keeping the possession. It was a real to and fro, with ONs occasionally turning over the ball and then Tracey doing her thing to get it back. ONs managed a couple of line breaks but getting past Eleanor and Fresh was proving difficult, to then find Lisa who provided a stonewall and on several occasions made incredible tackles to thwart the advances. Hannah made a couple of clean breaks to get us going forward, Eleanor looked like she was through only to be caught but the support was there to maintain the ball and for the next 10 minutes of the game we were camped in ONs 22. We recycled the ball well and kept challenging the line, managing to move it wide, committing players by offloading in the tackle. The final pass came from Eleanor to Sophie, who had the overlap, and cut back inside to score by the posts, only for the ref to blow for a forward pass, and for us to keep possession because of a previous offside infringement. We had the ball turned over on the line and cleared and the rest of the half petered out in the midfield.

If we our honest with ourselves, we should have levelled it up. We had the possession and the opportunity, we just didn’t take it. If we had been level at half time that would have been a fair reflection on two sides going at each other hard and not giving and inch either way. In the second half we had the wind on our backs and the setting sun behind us, could this push us towards and amazing win…The efforts of the first half were showing, Katie was changed for Charli, Shania was off, and Daisy was returning from a long lay-off with injury, but still the strength was there.

From the KO we knocked on and this gave ONs another chance to put us under early pressure, sensing that from the 22 they threw everything at it, switching directions but being met with stoic defence. Eleanor, Hannah, Abbie, Tracey, everybody pretty much putting their bodies in the way. ONs kept possession though and eventually crashed in the corner to go 10-0 up. It was the next 10 minutes which would define this game, we overturned the ball and pushed ONs back and as in the first half we laid siege to their line phase after phase of attack kept out. Daisy looked to have crashed over to be held up. From the ensuing scrum we again attacked, Hannah, Daisy and Abbie all trying to get over, Dara, Kristie and Shania also. We lost possession and ONs cleared, from the ensuing lineout we turned over the ball in midfield and attacked again. Finally go a little wider, Daisy and Hannah together to crash and score, but the whistle had gone. A yellow card was issued to ONs for deliberately fowling to stop a try, however we were only awarded a penalty. The consensus was to allow advantage as we still had possession for a score or a penalty try for deliberate offending, but we had neither. Losing possession as we tried too hard allowed ONs a little space to breathe. Their exceptional 13 found some tiny space to sprint away, managing to avoid both Sophies who valiantly tried to stop her before she could score under the posts and with the first conversion of the match, a huge moment. Instead of 10-7 it was now 17-0.

I can’t deny it was disappointing and understandably shoulders sagged a bit. The rest of the game was played with the Huns not getting enough possession and when their big forward managed to charge through and crash in the corner at 22-0 our opportunity was gone. Sophie as it turned out broke her thumb trying to stop this try and with some other adjustments, Tian was on to finish the game with Fresh dropping to fullback. ONs had one final attack and although T got her tackle in she stretched and reached for the line and with the converted score the final whistle blew.

29-0 the loss possibly not a true reflection but credit to ONS for their defence. There were two crucial periods in the game where their defence and experience was enough to see them through.

For me I hope we can gain the confidence that seems to be lacking. We have gone toe-to-toe with the 2 teams at the top of this table, and if we had taken our opportunities then there may well have been different outcomes. As a forward outfit when we are switched on nobody is better, we more than compete in this area and as a back line again we create opportunities but don’t always take them. To ONs I would like to thank their Coach for the nice words, he said that at half–time his team talk was about the potential of losing the game, and they possibly upped themselves by a small percentage to see them through, but he felt they had never been pushed as hard all year.

The returning Hannah was everywhere and deservedly got forward of the match but that shouldn’t take away the efforts of the other 7 because I thought the forwards were magnificent all day. Lisa received back of the match for the incredible performance at full back until she was injured in the second half. But Eleanor, Fresh and the 2 Sophies gave all they could, both our scrum halves did a great job and all the finishers tried their hardest.

Today turned on fine margins and I had asked everybody to put their heart on the line and I got what I asked for and couldn’t be prouder, the more we play together like this the more we will take the opportunities when they arrive, and then the results will change.

Believe Huns. Belief and brave hearts, each and every one of you!

Girls Rugby – Pitch up and play (ages 10 – 18)

With no rugby experience required from any girls wanting to try out rugby, Dunstablians RUFC and Stockwood Park RFC are offering pitch up and play sessions to girls from age 10 through to 18.

In line with the RFU #innerwarrior and ‘ release your inner warrior’ campaigns to encourage girls to try out contact rugby two of the local rugby clubs in Bedfordshire and on the Hertfordshire border are offering sessions for girls to come and give rugby ‘a go’.

Stockwood Park and Dunstablians have combined their resources to give the best possible exposure and experience to any girls wanting to try rugby with sessions running alternately across the two clubs.

With a mix of female and male coaching staff on hand to run the sessions girls of any experience can come along and take part in the sessions.   The sessions will cater for players of absolutely no experience at all to players that have played for years – you will fit right in irrespective of your level of experience!

The sessions will involve a warm-up along with some basic drills and then into a game against other girls of the same skill level.   If you are feeling nervous about playing a game, come along, do the warmup and skills and you can the watch the games and jump in at any point if you decide you want to have a go!  You can also just watch and make your mind up at a later time.

Some of the pitch and play sessions will be followed by our ladies team playing their next league match, keep an eye out on our website for where these dates overlap.

The sessions are as follows:

Stockwood Park RFC
08/12/2019 @ 12:00pm
02/02/2020 @ 12:00pm

Dunstablians RUFC
26/01/2020 @ 12:00pm
08/03/2020 @ 12:00pm

The sessions will run for approximately 1.5 to 2 hours with the clubhouse facilities available to all taking part and spectators.

2019/20 Fixture lists available

The 2019/20 fixture lists for all teams are now available on our website.   The fixture lists are also available on your smartphone or computer by subscribing via the links below.

There as still some fixtures are still to be added, updates to fixtures on the website will automatically be updated to your computer or smartphone if you subscribe.    You must set up the calendar to refresh regularly otherwise updates will not automatically be picked up by your device.

You can unsubscribe from a fixture list at any time.

How to get fixture lists on your smartphone

Google calendar users should select the Google link for the team you want to follow below.    For Windows, Macs and smartphones where you do not use Google calendars, select from the Windows/Mac links below.   When you click on a link you will be prompted to add the subscription, select how often you want the fixture list to be refreshed from the website, select if you want to be notified when fixtures do change or if you just want them to be silently updated in the background, then click ‘ok’ or ‘yes’ and that’s it!    The fixtures should now appear.

You may subscribe to as many fixture lists as you like.    There is a single fixture list at the bottom of the list that includes all fixtures.

If you already subscribe last season the fixtures will already be reflected in your smartphone calendar.

Team

Windows/Mac

Google

1XV Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
2XV Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
3XV Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
Ladies Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
Colts Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
U17 Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
U16 Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
U15 Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
U14 Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
U13 Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
Minis Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google
All Fixtures Fixture list for Windows/Mac/Smartphone Fixture List for Google

*iSheep/Apple Users : When adding the calendar subscription you will be prompted to add the subscription to your ‘iCloud calendars’ or ‘Local calendars’, do not select the iCloud calendars . If you do select the iCloud calendars the fixtures will appear but they will not pick up any subsequent changes. Because you have to select ‘Local Calendars’ the subscription will not automatically be picked up on any other apple devices you own, to get the fixture list onto each device, simply follow the process above for each device.

*If you need assistance in setting up a subscription on your laptop or smartphone we have a helpless desk which operates on a Thursday evening after practice at the bar.   After 9:30 and a few beers we have many experts available to offer help and advice.

Ladies vs Royston

Stockwood ladies travelled to The Heath at Royston in their latest league outing. Royston, who had beaten league-leaders Old Northamptonians last time out, were now joint top and using social media to let us know they were looking to settle the score from the previous meeting last season.

Our last game against Royston was the defining moment of last season, securing second place with a fantastic display of grit, determination and skill. It’s relevant to mention that from that day we have had a change of 12 players, which is a lot and makes a massive difference today. Our recent injury troubles have been well documented, whilst not wanting to dwell on it, as every side has their issues, it does feel like we’ve been hit particularly hard. We have been working very well in training, with lots of players in new positions or inexperienced players getting greater opportunities with the injury count, all in all, it’s coming together.

A new pre-match structure seems to be having a positive effect with the Huns, with the need to switch themselves on. We wanted to kick into the sun first as later in the game it would be very low. Abbie: on-pitch captain, as Daisy is long-term injured, won the toss and we got what we wanted.

Royston are always a well-drilled outfit, but they rely heavily on their 10-12 axis and their fullback, we discussed shutting them down as best we could. The forwards had worked massively on the breakdown and support play and the early skirmishes were very encouraging, as ball retention was excellent and counter rucking brilliant also. The scrum was functioning well and even the lineout was on point. We were trying a little too hard and rushing a little, and whilst on the front foot, gave Royston some possession. The aforementioned 12 pushed us back into our own half for a while. A slight criticism was that we were not coming up quick enough as a defensive unit and once 12 had got some speed up she was always making ground of offloading at the right time. Charli, Fresh and Sophie were doing a great job with a scrambling defence, and Lisa at fullback looked like a brick wall. From an attack of our own after good handling from Abbie, Dara and Claire, there was a breakdown on Royston’s 22. I then heard a call for a change, as Ally had hit the ruck with her forehand, with a golf-ball sized lump appearing, she had to come off and Lee-Anne was on.

Royston started to get a little possession, we missed a couple of tackles and found ourselves defending our own 5 metre line. No. 12 was trying to knock the door down, finally scoring and converting. At 7-0 it was a little disappointing, because we made an error and they scored. This is where these games are won and lost, and I think this disheartened us a bit. Again, after some excellent play, we managed to lose possession and once more the 12 broke the line and pushed us back again. By this time Cathy was on for Lee-Anne as she would be needed in the second half, as with Ally off, we only had one sub. With 12 scoring again and converting, at 20 minutes gone it was 14-0. We had had a lot of possession and played with excellent structure, so possibly not that reflective or our performance. Royston, however, had taken advantage of their opportunities, where we had missed a couple of ours. With a couple of minutes left of the half, Royston kicked for territory, won back possession from a knock on and scored once more. Half time score: 19-0.

The half-time discussion was around the effort and structure which had been exceptional, but we needed to defend coming forward. Royston had some strange rallying call which suggested they knew the second half wouldn’t be easy. I thought we had better forwards and should look to dominate that area. We started the second half well, with Royston only getting out of their half 2-3 times. Once, unfortunately, was for 10 to pretty much run the full length to score. From a scrum she tried to go blind, Abbie had read the move and shut it down, where she ran back the other way. With Katie getting blocked from tackling, which the ref missed, she ran through the space. She possibly could’ve been stopped twice but did enough to get herself over. At 24-0 this was a long way back. I saw something return from last year, the belief in themselves. The Huns started to grind Royston down and with wave after wave of attack and numerous penalties, it looked like we couldn’t get over. But with excellent ball retention, we finally had some space wide and through hands to Aimee who cut back inside, she forced her way over and converted her own score. 24-7 and no more than was deserved.

Once we had the ball again, we drove forward. It was clear that Royston were struggling, and we were really growing in confidence, with Dara having an exceptional game, Shania driving at the line, P and Tracey securing some awesome turnovers, we had the lions share of possession. From a scrum, Katie picked and went blind, and for all the world, Sophie looked like she was in. But Royston scrambled her out of play. Again, as the pressure built, Royston were giving away penalties in the danger zone. Fesh, Charli and Claire all being forced off the line. Somehow, Royston turned the ball over and went to pass their way out of trouble only for Sophie to intercept and score in the corner. 24-12 and definitely in control. However, this proved to be the last play of the game and albeit another loss, this was a very good performance and without 4 or 5 errors, may well have been a different outcome.

At 24-0 it could have been easy to give up, but that’s not what this group is about. In the 3 years I have been here, there are only a couple of times that you could say we have “dropped off”. It was a great game, fiercely contested and in good spirit. We are growing and coming again, with 18 fit and ready, we have our challenges but with some new players shaping up nicely, and the core staying together we are in a good place. If we continue like this, the results will come.

Katie and Charli, who rotate scrum half duties, had great games. P, Abbie, Dara, Tracey, Shania, Cathy, Cath, Lee-Anne, Claire and Ally were, as a group, awesome. Not forgetting Aimee, again in controlling form of the undeniable talent that is Fresh. Stonewall Lisa, firewoman Sophie, and of course Chloe, who whatever happens, always has a smile on her face.

Well done Park, well played!

Forward of the match: Pariese Roberts

Back of the match: Aimee Aslam

Gnome one like you: Sophie King

World Cup and What’sssss on

This weekend sees the excitement of the World Cup semi finals being played with England vs New Zealand on Saturday at 9am and Wales vs South Africa.

Even bigger excitement at the Park are the 1XV and 2XV fixtures over at Dunstable on Saturday afternoon.

With the Colts away this weekend on Sunday and the Mini section at home on Sunday morning it will be a busy weekend.

The kitchen is open with all its usual goodies and in the morning will be serving full English breakfasts for those that can dare to look away from the big screen.

Note: On Sunday morning between 08:05 and 09:30 the road outside the club will be closed due to the ‘Love Luton’ marathon.

Kitchen Opening Times
Saturday 8am until 12pm
Sunday 8am until 1pm

Bar Opening Times
Saturday 8am until late
Sunday 8am until 1pm

Stockwood Park 1XV v Rushden & Higham 1XV

Stockwood Park continued their unbeaten start to the season with a bonus point win against Rushden and Higham who were also unbeaten going into the game. In front of a big crowd for the annual former players lunch, the visitors started brightly but the Park defence held firm and when Park attacked No 8 Will Bennett stormed over from an attacking lineout with Brandon Lewsey adding the conversion.  Rushden kicked a penalty before the Park forwards, driven on by man of the match Michael Powell and skipper Tom Childs, started to gain ascendancy and tries from James Brennan and Childs, both converted by Lewsey who also added a penalty, saw Park pull away.  Rushden kicked a penalty on the stroke of half time as Park turned around 24-6 ahead.

Park dominated the second half and further tries for Lewsey, Justin Harkin and Frank Daly saw them run out worthy winners.  Lewsey completed his 100% kicking record with the 3 conversions for a personal tally of 18 points in the 45-6 win which moves Park into second place in the table with a local derby at Dunstablians next week.  Coach Tom Edmunds reflected “we have made a positive start and the team is improving each week.  It is early days and there are some stiff challenges ahead though, starting with Dunstablians”.  Park second team ran out comfortable 67-10 winners at Bletchley in their EM merit table game.

Ladies vs Cuffley

On Sunday the Stockwood Ladies welcomed Cuffley Ladies to the Park, another new team to the league, with the Ladies not having played them for quite some years. Following the previous loss to St Neots, the ladies and coaches felt a switch up the warm up was necessary to create a solid focus for the game ahead. The warm up looked great and everyone was switched on. The aims for this game were ultimately to enjoy ourselves, get back to playing rugby as a team and to build upon our already strong structural style; especially following the loss of so many players through injury and changing life circumstances! We had players covering new positions, with Cath S debuting at second row and Lisa moving back to full-back after a few months on the wing. 2.30pm arrived, and it was time to put all of our aims and hard work into practice…
We started well, but unfortunately conceded a try quite early on. In previous games, this could have dampened the team’s mental attitude but instead we came back with a determination to put our own stamp on this game. After the restart, the ladies found themselves solidly defending on their own try line. Tackles were being made left right and center, and we were competing at the rucks (one of the main areas of focus from the previous game). We managed to turn over the ball and hold onto possession. Using our strong forwards, Kristie and Abbie made some great runs to keep gaining the extra ground. We pushed up to their 22 in the corner, again Kristie and Abbie pushed forward. Following an excellently timed offload, Shania managed to break through and hop, skip and jump over players to score her first ever try! With Aimee having spent a lot of time practicing her kicking, it was time for her first conversion. The kick went over and the scores were equal at 7-7.
We continued to excel in our defence, with scrum half Charli tackling everything that moved, full-back Lisa stopping the last-man breakthroughs, and Katie (playing inside center for the first time) taking the opportunity to hit the breakdowns and get right in Cuffley’s faces. With the defence attempts from the whole team a step-up from previous games, it wasn’t long before the likes of Pariese managed to turn over the ball and get us the all-important possession. We began to attack but struggled to turn it into scores, with Sophie and Ellen trying to break their defence but being stopped short. Our pressure in both attack and defence forced errors upon Cuffley, resulting in penalties being awarded to us. Unfortunately, this upset Cuffley and saw sportsmanship dwindle and the ball get thrown away to stop the quick penalties. However, Stockwood ladies held true to themselves and did not drop down to the opposition’s attitude, but focused their energy into playing an enjoyable game of rugby. Just before half-time, the ladies conceded another try after some decisions not falling in their favour, With the whistle blowing, the scores stood at 14-7 to the visitors.
The second half started and despite the efforts of the ladies, looking like Cuffley were about to topple, they managed to break through and score again, the scores reading 19-7. In true Stockwood style, the ladies never gave up, but with the final plays of the game looming, Cuffley managed to score again, final score: 26-7. As usual, “the score didn’t reflect the game”, however, on this day, it truly didn’t. The ladies had a different attitude and came together as a team. They displayed some excellent skill and determination, but just couldn’t turn it into a win. We have moved leagues this year and with 3 or 4 teams being relegated from a higher level, the league is a lot more competitive. We have been as good as every team we have faced, but just scuppered on the crucial moments. We look forward to regrouping at training, with 6 sessions before our next game away to Royston. We look to continue our efforts and coming back together as a team, something that has taken precedent after a lot of personnel change. A massive congratulations to all of the ladies on Sunday, a well fought game that just didn’t go our way.
• Forward(s) of the match: Catherine Swindell and Shania Mulvihill
• Back of the match: Lisa Morris
• Gnome one like you: Charli Bligh

Daventry 1XV 10 Stockwood Park 1XV 26

Despite going behind by 10 points to 0 within 7 minutes of the start to a strong running Daventry,  Park fought back with great tenacity to go in 10 – 6 behind at halftime, with two penalties from Fly Half Brandon Lewsey,  before taking  control of the second half to run out as worthy winners by 26-10. Despite the home side being reduced to 14 men with a red card, Park defended with great commitment and attacked with pace and skilful handling.  Lock forward Jack Brooks was outstanding throughout well supported by his fellow forwards.

Early in the second half Lewsey added a further penalty to make the score 12 -9 to Daventry before Park took the lead with a well worked try for left wing Kyran Ryan. Park’s backs handling with skill to work the opening for Ryan.  Jack Brooks then got on the score sheet with an excellent try, before Alfie Daly, playing in the centre, sliced through the now weary Daventry defence to finish off an excellent team try close to the posts. Lewsey added the extras. Only an adjudged forward pass in the last play of the game prevented Stockwood from also securing a try bonus point.

Park have made a very positive start to their League programme with 3 wins out of 3 and this Saturday return to Cup action with a second round tie against Huntingdon in the RFU Senior Vase at home, KO 2:30pm.

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!