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 ….