Tag: Ladies match report

Ladies vs ONs

The latest fixture for Stockwood Ladies was an important day in many ways and for lots of reasons. It was against Old Northamptonians; a long established, BIG club in the East Midlands with players representing at that level too. This was the return of the early season fixture, but this time, having drawn them in the East Mids cup, this was a double header…

Soft underfoot, bright and dry, conditions were pretty good apart from a brisk wind. This season has been a strange one for the Huns with a lot of changes disrupting things a bit, but today we had the Uni girls back in our side and a big thanks to them for making the effort to travel from Birmingham, Leeds and Plymouth to bolster the squad to our more normal 22. The pre-match warm up was pretty good, I felt everybody was focused and the pre-match talk centred around heart. We may be many things as a group but when we put our hearts on the line I believe we are a match for anybody.

From the start, ONs came fast and with their excellent 13 cutting lines we were on the back foot. Stopping them at our 5-metre line, we defended pretty well from there, counter rucking and challenging the ball. ONs were retaining the ball well and have very good handling in the back line, finally the 13 found some space to go and score in the corner: 5-0. From the restart we managed to hold onto possessions better; we were rucking well with Kristie, Abbie and Dara at the forefront, Hannah and Shania on hand to take the second phase and Claire, Tracey and Cathy keeping the possession. It was a real to and fro, with ONs occasionally turning over the ball and then Tracey doing her thing to get it back. ONs managed a couple of line breaks but getting past Eleanor and Fresh was proving difficult, to then find Lisa who provided a stonewall and on several occasions made incredible tackles to thwart the advances. Hannah made a couple of clean breaks to get us going forward, Eleanor looked like she was through only to be caught but the support was there to maintain the ball and for the next 10 minutes of the game we were camped in ONs 22. We recycled the ball well and kept challenging the line, managing to move it wide, committing players by offloading in the tackle. The final pass came from Eleanor to Sophie, who had the overlap, and cut back inside to score by the posts, only for the ref to blow for a forward pass, and for us to keep possession because of a previous offside infringement. We had the ball turned over on the line and cleared and the rest of the half petered out in the midfield.

If we our honest with ourselves, we should have levelled it up. We had the possession and the opportunity, we just didn’t take it. If we had been level at half time that would have been a fair reflection on two sides going at each other hard and not giving and inch either way. In the second half we had the wind on our backs and the setting sun behind us, could this push us towards and amazing win…The efforts of the first half were showing, Katie was changed for Charli, Shania was off, and Daisy was returning from a long lay-off with injury, but still the strength was there.

From the KO we knocked on and this gave ONs another chance to put us under early pressure, sensing that from the 22 they threw everything at it, switching directions but being met with stoic defence. Eleanor, Hannah, Abbie, Tracey, everybody pretty much putting their bodies in the way. ONs kept possession though and eventually crashed in the corner to go 10-0 up. It was the next 10 minutes which would define this game, we overturned the ball and pushed ONs back and as in the first half we laid siege to their line phase after phase of attack kept out. Daisy looked to have crashed over to be held up. From the ensuing scrum we again attacked, Hannah, Daisy and Abbie all trying to get over, Dara, Kristie and Shania also. We lost possession and ONs cleared, from the ensuing lineout we turned over the ball in midfield and attacked again. Finally go a little wider, Daisy and Hannah together to crash and score, but the whistle had gone. A yellow card was issued to ONs for deliberately fowling to stop a try, however we were only awarded a penalty. The consensus was to allow advantage as we still had possession for a score or a penalty try for deliberate offending, but we had neither. Losing possession as we tried too hard allowed ONs a little space to breathe. Their exceptional 13 found some tiny space to sprint away, managing to avoid both Sophies who valiantly tried to stop her before she could score under the posts and with the first conversion of the match, a huge moment. Instead of 10-7 it was now 17-0.

I can’t deny it was disappointing and understandably shoulders sagged a bit. The rest of the game was played with the Huns not getting enough possession and when their big forward managed to charge through and crash in the corner at 22-0 our opportunity was gone. Sophie as it turned out broke her thumb trying to stop this try and with some other adjustments, Tian was on to finish the game with Fresh dropping to fullback. ONs had one final attack and although T got her tackle in she stretched and reached for the line and with the converted score the final whistle blew.

29-0 the loss possibly not a true reflection but credit to ONS for their defence. There were two crucial periods in the game where their defence and experience was enough to see them through.

For me I hope we can gain the confidence that seems to be lacking. We have gone toe-to-toe with the 2 teams at the top of this table, and if we had taken our opportunities then there may well have been different outcomes. As a forward outfit when we are switched on nobody is better, we more than compete in this area and as a back line again we create opportunities but don’t always take them. To ONs I would like to thank their Coach for the nice words, he said that at half–time his team talk was about the potential of losing the game, and they possibly upped themselves by a small percentage to see them through, but he felt they had never been pushed as hard all year.

The returning Hannah was everywhere and deservedly got forward of the match but that shouldn’t take away the efforts of the other 7 because I thought the forwards were magnificent all day. Lisa received back of the match for the incredible performance at full back until she was injured in the second half. But Eleanor, Fresh and the 2 Sophies gave all they could, both our scrum halves did a great job and all the finishers tried their hardest.

Today turned on fine margins and I had asked everybody to put their heart on the line and I got what I asked for and couldn’t be prouder, the more we play together like this the more we will take the opportunities when they arrive, and then the results will change.

Believe Huns. Belief and brave hearts, each and every one of you!

Another tough game for the ladies

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 ….