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
and for good measure!

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