On yet another perfect day for Rugby the next instalment of our journey was to take place in Haringey as we had yet another away game.
Feeling a little more buoyed from the previous week after finding out that the Lady that caused us all the problems was an ex semi –professional and one time Saracens player ..that really is too good for this level …
We again had a squad of 20 and with a lot of travelling support arrived with perhaps our strongest team this year .. Hitchin game apart, We were still without a couple of regulars due to injury but none-the less a solid squad .
A lot of discussion prior to ko was around trying to be a bit more assertive and to play our game whilst stopping the opposition from playing theirs .. it was always going to be a close / tough encounter as Haringey have had a good start to the season having lost only once and that was to
Hitchin who now sit top of the table … but clearly they would be confident and well structured .
Having chosen to kick up hill and into the sun ,as we felt the slope and the dipping sun would help us in the second half, the game started at a pace .. our intensity was good and we were making the tackles and competing at the rucks … however Haringey were very good at offloading in the tackle .. keeping the ball alive .. with good hands they attacked out wide and despite tackles being made kept the ball moving to score in the corner.. .conversion missed 5 mins in 5-0 down ….
Potentially not deserved but none the less a good score .. important not to drop off we continued with Fran and Fay getting to the breakdowns . the terrible twosome of Amy and Abbie ..giving some good impetus .. Daisy , Hannah and Cath getting around the park well .. if anything when we had possession we were a little flat with our back line allowing Haringey to disrupt our attempts to get it out to Sophie and Ellen … Charlie on the other wing was having a good game holding her position and making her tackles … and when she did bite in it was the right call and she stopped several forays by Haringey …
Getting little change out of our forwards ..the scrum was dominant all day and the line out good as well … we were getting plenty of possession but not quite clicking with the attack … Haringey managed again to keep the ball moving and scored again in the corner to take them out to 10-0 after 20 mins or so ..
With the depth of squad we changed up a bit with Freya replacing Daisy .. Emma for Fay .. P for Shania and Amber for Ellen … this had a good effect as the fresh legs in the forwards gave a real boost , we started to really get the upper hand and with the backs starting to click we were looking dangerous .. however from an error in midfield Haringey managed to pounce and once again had enough to get over in the corner to go 15-0 up …. With 10 minutes left we felt that the score wasn’t reflective of the play and continued to play as we had … we then found ourselves in clear ascendancy as we pushed to try and get a score before half time .. with both Fresh and Sophie making clear line breaks only the excellent Haringey full back kept us out .. and with an attacking lineout on Haringey’s 5 metre line had a real opportunity .. completing the catch and setting for a driving maul sent Haringey backwards at a rate only for the ref to blow and say they weren’t competing therefore the maul was never formed .. whilst they hadn’t competed for the jump I did feel they engaged at the maul .. a fine call that didn’t go our way … and with a final push from the restart Haringey kept us out 15-0 at half-time.
It felt not right I think 10-5 would have been a fairer reflection as the forwards had dominated from 20 mins on and a few 50-50s didn’t go with us …. The second half we talked about patience and continuing how we were because we would have to create chances … Our intensity was excellent Katie and Tracy were linking well and we were pushing Haringey back .. Our intensity was beginning to have an effect as Haringey were not maintaining theirs .we started to turn some ball over and the counter rucking had been excellent all day .. Amy and Freya / Daisy and Fran making excellent breaks pushing us forward .. Haringey were tackling a bit high and the ref was warning them as we started to ramp up the pressure again the full back stopped 2 clean line breaks … and she was to prove a real thorn in our sides … from another penalty in the centre we got some real go forward and Amy decided she was going to score .. with 3 or 4 Haringey players hanging off her she drove to the line and scored under the posts … missing the conversion .. because we rushed it ?? …. We restarted … the game was now very much about us .. on the front foot with everybody contributing from the bench and then returning to keep things fresh .. Haringey managed to get a break from midfield and went up the line managing to keep the ball live … and when they finally got to score in the corner again .. there was a little murmuring as the girl had gone someway into touch and not been flagged … now previously this would have caused a meltdown .. but we refocussed and just played even better …. At 20-5 with 20 mins or so left we had time and the ascendancy … the full back managed to stop another of our clean breaks ..and this was getting on my nerves a bit to be honest … from a penalty Katie moved the ball Tracey to Fresh and we had moved Sophie to inside centre and she had enough room this time to accelerate away and score behind the posts and with Tracey making the conversion 20-12 with a good 10 minutes or so left ..Haringey were losing players to our intensity and they had received a yellow card for repeated high tackling we really did have the bit between our teeth but just could not get past the fullback who had a terrific game … when finally the ref blew for the end … whilst it had been a really good game and fiercely contested by both sides it felt like we could have won the game …
However for us it shows you Ladies you can compete with the top teams in this league .. we need to show more confidence and the effort of yesterday all the time every game and we will be right in there ….
Well done to you all .. can’t really separate anybody as stand out .. Abbie and Amy are a force and when supported by the rest of the forwards it’s an irresistible force… Ellen and Sophie are pocket rockets if we can get the ball to them … Katie had a good game at scrum half and and and … everybody was truly excellent… too difficult to separate out … which is a massive positive … this team if it can play together more than once will go places …..
It didn’t feel like a loss because of the great rugby played .. and to be honest if we played with that heart and determination every time and lost every time it wouldn’t matter …. But let me assure you if we play like that every time we will win more than we lose ……. Final note we had a young referee yesterday who was extremely good ….. think he should get a mention ….