Tag: Stockwood Park Ladies Rugby

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!

Ladies vs Cuffley

On Sunday the Stockwood Ladies welcomed Cuffley Ladies to the Park, another new team to the league, with the Ladies not having played them for quite some years. Following the previous loss to St Neots, the ladies and coaches felt a switch up the warm up was necessary to create a solid focus for the game ahead. The warm up looked great and everyone was switched on. The aims for this game were ultimately to enjoy ourselves, get back to playing rugby as a team and to build upon our already strong structural style; especially following the loss of so many players through injury and changing life circumstances! We had players covering new positions, with Cath S debuting at second row and Lisa moving back to full-back after a few months on the wing. 2.30pm arrived, and it was time to put all of our aims and hard work into practice…
We started well, but unfortunately conceded a try quite early on. In previous games, this could have dampened the team’s mental attitude but instead we came back with a determination to put our own stamp on this game. After the restart, the ladies found themselves solidly defending on their own try line. Tackles were being made left right and center, and we were competing at the rucks (one of the main areas of focus from the previous game). We managed to turn over the ball and hold onto possession. Using our strong forwards, Kristie and Abbie made some great runs to keep gaining the extra ground. We pushed up to their 22 in the corner, again Kristie and Abbie pushed forward. Following an excellently timed offload, Shania managed to break through and hop, skip and jump over players to score her first ever try! With Aimee having spent a lot of time practicing her kicking, it was time for her first conversion. The kick went over and the scores were equal at 7-7.
We continued to excel in our defence, with scrum half Charli tackling everything that moved, full-back Lisa stopping the last-man breakthroughs, and Katie (playing inside center for the first time) taking the opportunity to hit the breakdowns and get right in Cuffley’s faces. With the defence attempts from the whole team a step-up from previous games, it wasn’t long before the likes of Pariese managed to turn over the ball and get us the all-important possession. We began to attack but struggled to turn it into scores, with Sophie and Ellen trying to break their defence but being stopped short. Our pressure in both attack and defence forced errors upon Cuffley, resulting in penalties being awarded to us. Unfortunately, this upset Cuffley and saw sportsmanship dwindle and the ball get thrown away to stop the quick penalties. However, Stockwood ladies held true to themselves and did not drop down to the opposition’s attitude, but focused their energy into playing an enjoyable game of rugby. Just before half-time, the ladies conceded another try after some decisions not falling in their favour, With the whistle blowing, the scores stood at 14-7 to the visitors.
The second half started and despite the efforts of the ladies, looking like Cuffley were about to topple, they managed to break through and score again, the scores reading 19-7. In true Stockwood style, the ladies never gave up, but with the final plays of the game looming, Cuffley managed to score again, final score: 26-7. As usual, “the score didn’t reflect the game”, however, on this day, it truly didn’t. The ladies had a different attitude and came together as a team. They displayed some excellent skill and determination, but just couldn’t turn it into a win. We have moved leagues this year and with 3 or 4 teams being relegated from a higher level, the league is a lot more competitive. We have been as good as every team we have faced, but just scuppered on the crucial moments. We look forward to regrouping at training, with 6 sessions before our next game away to Royston. We look to continue our efforts and coming back together as a team, something that has taken precedent after a lot of personnel change. A massive congratulations to all of the ladies on Sunday, a well fought game that just didn’t go our way.
• Forward(s) of the match: Catherine Swindell and Shania Mulvihill
• Back of the match: Lisa Morris
• Gnome one like you: Charli Bligh

Ladies vs Kilburn Cosmos

So on the complete opposite of a day to our previous run out we set off for Kilburn Cosmos.. a team we always enjoy visiting a truly lovely bunch who give everything on the field and are great hosts after .
The Great News is that Kilburn have been successful with their recruitment drive and had a squad of 17 for the first time in ages and they were really looking forward to playing a “proper “ game of Rugby

We have had a tremendous commitment again this season and with 21 on the traditional Coach journey all was set .

Now with one of our greatest supporters celebrating her 60th Birthday the previous eve .. .I was worried about what condition we would all be in ..but they were all there and on time and in good spirit so no worries …

With the wind and the drizzle pretty much set it was a little cooler than the mid summers day of the previous Sunday ..but not bad conditions for the game .

We kicked off and it was clear the energy levels weren’t quite where we wanted them to be ..whilst we played pretty much the first 20 minutes in Kilburn’s half … Kilburn had a lot of the ball … but our defence was pretty good and they were going nowhere despite having possession … Debs made a couple of Breaks , Daisy and Abbie were trying but things weren’t quite coming off and we weren’t using the backs and as previously mentioned energy levels were low we were a bit passive …just not functioning quite right …. Finally moving the ball quickly Debs and Sophie combined to put Sophie M away and she finished under the posts 5-0… So it was clear we needed to create a platform move the ball wide and both Ellen and Sophie would be too quick … Having been a bit grumpy about what I was watching, for the next 15 mins or so we dominated and whilst not firing on all cylinders it was much better .. Sophie K made a great break to score and Sophie M scored twice more with Tracey converting 2 out of the 3 suddenly we were 24-0 up .
With P having a good influence when she came on .. and Ally and Chloe getting a run out it was good that the whole squad was being used … Red had a bit of a knock so Sophie K dropped to Fullback and Kimberly also came on and with Daisy also needing a break pretty much the whole squad was on …
The last 2 mins of the Half Kilburn managed to get inside our 5 metre line and despite repelling wave after wave of attack .. with Lee-Anne sin binned for penalty top -up .. Kilburn finally broke the resistance and scored a deserved try for their efforts .. although not really threatening they had played some good rugby in the first half. Despite leading 24-7 at half time its a measure of our expectation levels that we knew we could play better and with a change at scrum half with Charlie being replaced by Claire ..Charlie had had a pretty good game in fairness .. with Sophie M and Ellen taking a break it was Cath Swindell to come on to get all 21 good game time …

Playing with 14 for the first 7 mins of the second half we just picked the energy up a bit … with a few decisions going against Amy which wound her up a bit and that had the effect of some big hits going in putting us on the front fit and with Sophie K joining the line from fullback to score in the corner despite 3 Kilburn players trying to stop her it was a positive start to the second half .. from then on however it returned a bit to the pattern of the first half although possession stats were more 50-50 .. the game was played entirely in Kilburn’s 22 .. they never really threatened despite a lot of hard work … the good thing for us was that our inexperienced players Ally , Chloe , Cath Swindell , Kimberley ,Charlie and Claire …. got some pretty decent game time and all stood up to make their tackles and be generally in the right place … with Daisy returning and making some good yardage .. we still seemed reticent to move the ball wide but with 5 mins or so to go Daisy crashed over with 3 or 4 hanging on for the final score in the corner and at 34-7 complete what appears a comfortable win …. I wouldn’t describe it as that because Kilburn never give up and will become harder to play if they can keep the squad together.

However for us its now 4 wins on the bounce scoring 129 pts and conceding just 31 …. since Christmas apart from Hitchin who have won every game our form would put us second in the League and indeed having despatched the 2nd placed team last week ..its clear our huge improvement has now given us some consistency at a decent level .. and its a sign, whilst the coach was a bit moany … even after a heavy night the mental strength was there to get the job done

2 Games left this season … Home to Tabard and away to Royston .. if we win both of those then we can finish second if other results go our way … if we win both the games we can finish 3rd … however we have lost to both these teams this season so its no easy task ….. but you know what … I believe you can do it …….c’mon the Park

Ladies vs Hampstead

Having regrouped and counted the walking wounded our second home league fixture of the season found us again with a full squad .. this time 19 … I believe this to be a first for this group that we have been able to turn out these numbers regularly so theres a positive before we start .. and with the “development league” you get a point for a full squad .. so whatever happened today we would receive another 2pts but lets hope for more …

Without the regular scrum half or 10 we were in trouble really as Cat couldn’t arrive until 2pm on the dot .. so with Tracey at 9 and Ellen trying out at 10 we started a little bit disjointed.. Hamptead took advantage of this from the start and scored 3 tries really quickly which we were never to recover from … Whilst a few players were giving their all as a collective our intensity was a bit low and generally we were watching Hamptead play instead of competing with them. On occasions we started to play a bit and challenge Hampteads skill sets and when under pressure they started to fail a bit … again at the end of the half we were camped on their line and just couldn’t get the ball to the right place to score .,.. as with the previous week we are a bit passive when we don’t have the ball and teams at the moment are having success when they create multiple phases.
With Chloe , Lisa , Claire Sl, Chloe B and Claire Walsh all getting valuable game time its starts to create us some depth and with experience this will give us the strength as well.

Hampstead ran the ball well and were very good at keeping the ball “live” despite the intentions of Eleanor and Tracey , Faye Danni and Fran to stop them hard… Lisa who had never played more than 5-10 mins played a full half at fullback and showed a great understanding of the role and was unlucky on several occasions not to stop her attacker .#

Having got a bit frustrated with our intensity a few words behind the try line seemed to “wake” everybody up our pick and drive proving very successful as we moved our way up the field .. Dara and Daisy making ground being supported by Amy Danni , Fran and Shania, we kept moving and re-cycling the ball well to finally find Daisy to crash over the line and score a well deserved try …

Again perhaps the score was a little unflattering but there were some real good performances and we are growing as a team / squad of 25-26 regulars …be interesting to see what the reverse fixture brings …
Faye voted forward of the match
Eleanor voted back of the match

Special mention for Tracey who was fantastic out of position and Daisy for her first try …

Finally I would ask you all to start to believe in yourselves as I truly think this is holding us back a bit .

Overall its all great and you appear to be having a good time which is all that really matters

Ladies improved vs Hitchin

So on a sunny Sunday afternoon the Ladies had their first away game in the League with the short journey to Hitchin …
With a fabulous squad of 22 and plenty of support too there is no doubt we are gaining momentum with our Journey.

Wasn’t sure what to expect when the Ref announced before the game that he had sent 2 Coaches off this season already and that I should be aware that his daughter used to play at Hitchin albeit she was at Uni now… and as it transpired I needed to expect nothing as that is what we got ..(not that the result would have been different, but that is not the point)

Anyway … we started very brightly and for the first 10 minutes or so had a very even battle albeit in our own half … with Dara and Fran leading the contact and Katie and Aimee organising the team we look structured and generally held ourselves together well and defensively were sound. However we dropped our intensity a bit and this gave Hitchin a bit too much momentum allowing them to score after 15-20 mins or so ..
Hitchin play with a lot of aggression and intimidation and with very specific attempts at handing off on the face whilst not strictly against the laws are certainly on the edge of what is acceptable.
With Irish making her normal saving tackles .. Eleanor all over the pitch in defence we held ourselves together enough .. but started to pick up injuries and conceded a couple more scores quickly . We really need to compete more at the breakdown as we are allowing teams to have too much of the ball and by the 5th or 6th phase of an attack the opposition tend to be able to find some space .. albeit they have had to work for it.
We galvanised ourselves well and played for the last 15 mins or so of the half within 10 metres of their line … we put together lots of phases and found Hitchin committing penalties at the breakdown Amy ,Dara , Daisy ,Faye ,Tracey and Fran all working hard as we kept inching towards the line ..Debbie and Cath trying their utmost to get through and get the ball wide to Ellen or Ally to score .. Hitchin kept us at bay but through conceding 6 or 7 Penalties in what is known as the red zone .. for me this is either a Penalty Try or a Yellow card as they were deliberately fouling to stop the play/momentum and on 2 occasions this led to a break out by Hitchin to score ….. the second half had a very similar flow to it .. although by this time both Katie and Aimee were off injured with Cat doing the scrum half duties and Alice Lisa and Chloe… coming on to give it a go.. Shania playing in various different positions giving her all. Hitchin managed to score regularly but again we never give up and for the last 10 mins of the match found ourselves doing exactly what we had at the end of the first half but his time with 8 or 9 penalties to keep us at bay .. again we were not awarded anything for this and ended up scoreless and 53-0 result.
Personally I feel this not to be a fair reflection of the game perhaps a 39-15 would have been more indicative of how we had played. The last time we had played Hitchin we were on the end of a 93-0 scoreline so to have almost halved this shows a great improvement considering the intensity with which Hitchin play.

My last comment about this game is surrounding the ref …we accepted every decision as we should and showed him a large amount of respect as is the Rugby way …. But he refused to shake my hand at the end of the game and I find that unforgivable ..

Ladies go down to Marlow

This Sunday saw the Ladies of Stockwood Park begin their first major League campaign against the Ladies of Marlow .. who would no doubt be a well drilled side having had more experience and time together.
Buoyed by the last performance there was a lot of anticipation and having 16 available we already had a point before we started …. Unfortunately Marlow had only 12 so we had to play 12 aside.. .However with the subs situation we hoped it would help us as the game went on.
We started well with Aimee coming in at 10 and Sophie moving out to Inside Centre and with Eleanor and Ellen outside her this was as strong a back line as we could put out … with the space on the pitch this looked like an advantage, as the game went into 10 mins having had to defend for a period we finally managed to release the backs from our own 5 metre line what followed was a brilliant try with support and pace and no little skill with the ball changing hands 3 or 4 times for Aimee to finally touch down .. what was her first try in a match ….and what a fantastic start to the League Campaign ..

Marlow reacted strongly and had a very elusive 10 of their own who has obviously played a lot of Rugby and potentially at a higher level because she started pulling strings and running the game … Marlow attacked down the blind side and were thwarted a couple of times by super Trace .. playing at fullback for the first time … but eventually their possession told and equalised in the corner … It was here that we showed our lack of experience against their 10 who again attacked at the blind twice more to score and with one conversion and a further score on the other side the wind was taken out of our sails a bit. Really we should have been able to spot what they were going to do and counter –act it.
Eleanor was trying her hardest and her tackle count was mounting .. .we were a little disappointing in the forwards not reaching the levels of the previous game and getting over the ball quickly enough to give us the momentum and possession we changed it about a bit with Cath and Fay coming on and making a little bit of a difference .. Katie ended up being in the maul to often and Eleanor, because she was tackling ,so left the backline a little disjointed.

These things happen in the heat of battle .. and as we play more games this will happen less and less .. The second half we gave very little in attack and when we did have the opportunity we made poor choices and lost possession when a chance to score was there … with the unfortunate injury to Sophie putting a real dampner on the day .. and as of writing I don’t know how she is and I know we all wish her well and I would like to add how unfair these things are sometimes as she was becoming a very good player in a quick time .. I just hope it was nothing serious … I felt we lost our intensity a bit … nobody gave up everybody kept trying .. but we weren’t quick enough in line speed and a bit passive at the breakdown .. with the lineout misfiring as well we just couldn’t get enough possession to let Ellen and Eleanor attack as we know they can.
So first game is a loss but that is irrelevant we are progressing there are so many positives .. a squad of sufficient numbers with other players to come back , Amy ,Shania making solid debuts ..Eleanor, Sophie ,Aimee and Ellen showing real intent in attack .. Tracey playing a strange role for her and doing a great job .. Katie all over the game and organising as best she can Fran and Danii forming a good partnership .. Ally getting better every time she plays …. and solid performances from Cath and Fay off the bench …

The good news is you were all disappointed and that is a really good sign for the journey we are on … hold tight ladies it will come good in the end.

Videos are only available if you are a member and logged in.