So the Ladies of Stockwood Park returned to the field this Sunday with an away fixture at Harlow, one of the major strengths of the side this year has been the squad numbers and whilst its not always possible to get game time for everybody I wanted to start by thanking and congratulating the outstanding commitment that has been shown by this group . Once again with a few people unavailable with illness and or other commitments we still travelled with 20 .. This was the return fixture from earlier in the year where we had managed to win fairly comfortably at home but we are at their home and they had clearly improved looking at their recent results and the feeling was it would be a close game.Without our regular scrum half .. who is very much the glue of our side, Cat took up the reigns and with Chloe and Kristie making their first starts all was set for the start .
Harlow have recently moved and their new facilities are truly magnificent and despite the cold and the threat of snow the pitch was perfect . We received first and the game started at a pace …Harlow started brightly and were getting to the breakdowns quicker and were securing more of the ball without really creating much .. a couple of moves out wide which were snuffed out by Eleanor and Ellen but we were not going forward enough ourselves. However from a lineout (which was excellent all day ..Cath and Tracey were right in sync) we managed to create a nice phase of play and with the ball going through hands to Ellen on the wing it looked for all money she was clear to score … with the Harlow girl just doing enough to put her off balance …slowed her just enough for the covering defence to catch her .
We then had a period of dominance where we looked like creating some space but never quite finding it to take advantage of the possession ..With the scrum solid and the Lineout operating well we had the ball but just couldn’t create the stand out opportunity.Harlow grew in confidence as the half went on and when started to move the ball out wide looked far more dangerous and on one occasion had the numbers wide and their winger finished a nice move to secure the first score of the day after 30 mins.
With a little more sustained pressure for the last few minutes of the half Harlow tried hard to score again but the Stockwood defence stood firm and it finished at 7-0 at halftime
The half-time discussion was around working harder .. I felt we were being a bit lazy and that whichever side stamped its authority on the game would win it .. I said if you want to win you need to go out and win it going through the motions wont be good enough.
We changed it about a bit with Ally Fay and Clare coming on and with the intention of not being quite so passive ..
The second half started with a similar vein to the first with a lot of the game taking place in midfield ..however the Stockwood girls had a far greater intensity .. with a few stoppages for injuries this was breaking the game up a bit. We then started to really dominate and get a lot of possession and after a 3 or phase attack Harlow managed to clear only for us to come straight back at them .. moving the ball wide we managed to get 2 or 3 meters from the line where from a ruck the ball spilled out and Cat “pounced” to score in the corner .
From here the belief surged into Stockwood and for the last 20 minutes of the game HARLOW could not get out of their 22 and when they did we would win the lineout and camp on again… Daisy , both Fays ,Kristie all driving hard for the line but keeping the ball alive .. in fairness to Harlow their defence was magnificent as they repelled attack after attack.. we even went out to Debs , Eleanor and Ellen and Harlow managed to scramble across and deny…
The penalty count was rising which becomes dangerous for the defending side as this can be seen as deliberate but I always felt that as long as we were patient it would come as long as we didn’t run out of time .. with a shout from the ref of last play .. it was now or never from the base of our scrum we feed the ball out quickly to Aimee at fly half she misjudges the ball a bit and fortunately knocked it backwards she however maintained her composure to scoop it up to Debs at inside centre who proceeded to run at the defence after going through 2 defenders and handing off a third she had some space outwide with Irish ,Eleanor and Ally all chasing in support surely this was the moment .. outpacing 2 more defenders she had only 1 more to beat and did this with some ease to dive over and score towards the corner .. the celebrations followed as the girls had found the desire and skill to get the job done .. you cannot coach these moments you have to live them , experience them to learn from them and they had done just that a truly magnificent effort capped off with a moment to treasure only surpassed this weekend by Jonny Sexton in Paris …
Final comments are a big thank you to the ref as he was very good all day ,very consistent and to Harlow who welcomed us warmly and who defended as if their lives depended on it and on another day may well just have won that game. The Park are marching on ..final score 7-10.. Cat and Debs to score … Back of the match Aimee/ Debs .. great partnership… forward Kristie .. who once she got her breath back from the first half was a constant threat . next game home to Top of the League 18th Feb …come on you Park …