So the Ladies were out on the road again .. travelling this time to Marlow a Rugby club with a fine tradition and in my experience always a well-trained outfit.
The weather on the way down wasn’t particularly inspiring as it was should we say “wet”..
Upon arrival it looked deserted so the weather had put off the big crowd we are normally used to … and in a leafy suburb of Buckinghamshire you could almost hear a pin drop.
Having arrived nice and early we warmed up really well and had time to have a chat in the changing room before we started …even all the referees pre-amble was carried out inside.
We talked about the need to play simply in this weather to stick to our phases and spread the ball wide .. also to keep closer together so the pass wasn’t at distance … in defence to counter act the ruck more and to target the No 10 who controlled the game in our previous encounter which was
Our first ever game this year with lots of newcomers and we were put to the sword 48-5
We are a lot better than that day and our growth is a revelation .
We kicked off playing slightly up-hill and in a mizzle that just never stopped ..(but the conditions under foot were good .) we immediately put Marlow under pressure and pushed them into their 22, like in previous weeks it was thrust and counter thrust as both teams were getting possession albeit we had the majority .. the really nice thing was we were following instruction and with Daisy and Dara getting their hands on the ball a lot but with Amy and Abbie really dominating the breakdown we were trying hard .. perhaps a little too hard as we couldn’t quite get our passing accurate enough although we did look threatening. As I mentioned MARLOW were well drilled and effective albeit they never really looked like scoring or getting out of their half especially in the first half. With Sophie dominating her opposite number as asked and giving us a real go forward Eleanor and Ellen combined to create enough space at last to get around Marlow’s defence and score in the corner. Credit here must also go to the forwards where Abbie and Amy ,Dara and Danni had created a panic in the defence suck them in a bit .. after about 25 mins we clearly hit a bit of a brick wall as we tired Marlow spent more time in our half and looked a bit more threatening .. Danni was doing a great job of disrupting any ball that Marlow had driving through the middle of rucks along with Abbie .Amy and Dara. And as previously mentioned Sophie was up fast brilliantly supported by Eleanor ,Ellen and Catherine ..with Ally doing the same on her side .. from a panicky kick in midfield Marlow forced us back onto our own line and with 4 mins to go really gave it a go .. the defence was magnificent with Tracey and Daisy stopping and pushing them back Ally and Eleanor combining to force them into touch .. at one stage it looked as if they had made it to the whitewash only for Tracey to get herself under the ball .. from that move somehow Danni had been smacked square on the nose .. blood everywhere … turns out her and Cath had a coming together …. As it was last play time for Hannah Thomas to make her senior debut at the tender age of 17 and with the Stockwood stone –wall standing the half finished 5-0 to us.
We probably should have been a bit further ahead butchering a couple of good chances … but to be fair to Marlow they were working hard and deserved to be still in touch…
Second half was downhill slightly so hopefully that would help at some stage .. we started again brightly and put Marlow under a lot of pressure and were 10 meters out for quite awhile .. I was feeling nervous because again whilst trying to do the right thing it just wasn’t coming off .. with Abbie needing a break Danni returned to the fray and continued where she had left off … (probably her best game in a Stockwood shirt) with Daisy making some charging runs , Hannah really impressive at the breakdown we pushed and pushed ..again we created some space and put Ellen in once more she was no more than 2 yds. from the line when she was taken out by a flying Marlow player around the neck .. when the whole ground and even their players wince clearly it was a high tackle and dangerous … the ref awarded a penalty only .. now fortunately Ellen was ok but it should have been a penalty try as a minimum ..she would have scored no doubt… anyway this seemed to ease the pressure on Marlow and they managed to break out and get over the halfway line Annie playing at fullback hadn’t had a great deal to do but in tackling a Marlow player was concussed and had to come off .. with Tracey dropping to full back and Abbie returning to the field it was time for Lee-Ann to make her debut at second row … she had never played any form of rugby match at all .. only trained …. Marlow then managed to get the upper hand a bit and once again pushed us back ..but once again the girls held firm and Marlow never really got to within 5 meters .. there was some real confidence shown as the girls continued to try and pass their way out of trouble and considering the incessant rain the handling was excellent .. then once again we managed to create that space and Danni ran on to a pass the only issue she had was she had all the pitch to run an promptly set off .. with Eleanor in close support Dani got to within a yard of the line when she was caught but fighting off the defender managed to get herself over the line for the second score.10-0 …
From then on the remaining time was spent 5 meters from Marlow’s line and we hashed up a few opportunities to score some more points but all in all it was a very controlled performance .. in the last 3 games we have only let 12 points past us ..clearly our defence is getting there when we make the right decisions attacking clearly we will be a force to be reckoned with.
Sophie was back of the match for another commanding performance but particularly for doing exactly what I asked her to do …
Abbie was the forward of the match constantly going forward lovely offloads and helping several times to turn the ball over at the ruck…
As of writing Annie was ok after having visited the hospital with concussion … big thanks to Tracey for shooting her straight there
4th place is secure we have one game left this season in the league .. ..Hampstead away ….