Girls team tough it out at Bletchley
By Kath Middleditch
Eva, Molly and Lottie are Olney's players of the day
This was the second waterfall tournament of the season. Several teams from around the region gather at one club and those without sufficient numbers form barbarians style sides for the day.
This Sunday it was Bletchley’s turn to host with the visiting teams being Olney, Old Albanians, Chesham/High Wycombe and Harpenden, all decent clubs. Olney volunteered to referee all the matches due to a shortage.
Olney’s team was Jess, Amma, Charlie, Eva, Lottie, Bethany, Hollie, Mimi, Molly, Ella and Hattie.
The first game pitted Olney against Albanians, these being the two teams with a full complement. You rarely see a bad Albanians side and this proved no exception. Almost all year 8’s, so a year older than most of the Olney team, and big with it. Well-drilled and skilful keeping the ball close and running hard. We were not helped by losing our star fullback Mimi in the first few minutes with a bang to the head. She retired injured and didn’t play for the rest of the day. Shortly afterwards skipper Jess was also injured and left the field, returning after half time.
Olney battled bravely but fell off a few tackles, whereas Albanians stopped our strong runners in the second line of defence. This restricted yardage gained and as the pressure increased we began to chuck the ball away rather than riding the tackle. The loss of Mimi also meant the loss of our kicking option, although Hattie stepped up and put in some great kicks from restarts. The catching from all teams was excellent throughout the day. Olney rucked and scrummaged well and defence on the wings was good, with Molly putting in some good covering tackles.
Pressure told and Albanians scored a couple of tries in each half to win 4-0. They were the best team we have faced so far this season, very professionally set up and deserved the win. Olney battled well and there is absolutely no shame in losing to such an outfit.
Albanians then played Harpenden plus others, in a close game of contrasting styles, winning a hard fought battle.
Olney then played Harpenden plus others, another club with a strong reputation. The two teams were well matched with speedy backs. Harpenden took the lead early on but Olney plugged away, moving the ball and retaining possession much better. Harpenden had a good kicking game and used it to effect. Eventually our pressure told and we moved the ball to Amma, who used her speed and strength to exploit a gap, scoring well. Olney then has the upper hand, making several breaks. They had two moves that would have led to tries disallowed by the (Olney) referee due to handoffs, which are illegal for girls at this level (but bizarrely allowed for boys...). The game was also punctuated by injury breaks, which required a couple of the opposition to leave the field.
There were no more scores and the game finished 1-1 with, perhaps, a moral victory for Olney after a poor start.
The final match involved Albanians against the rest. There was only going to be one result and so it proved, Albanians running in several tries.
It would be easy to look at this as a step down after the great wins of last week, but that would be very unfair on the girls. The team as a whole was a notch lower in performance than the week before, although all tried hard. We won’t play many tougher sides than Albanians and a few weeks ago they would have put twice the score on us. Positives were not giving up, some nice bits of skill and runs from Jess and Amma.
The three players of the day from an Olney perspective were Eva, Molly and Lottie.
Next week we play Towcester in what will be a very interesting measure of our progress, given that a very raw Olney team played them in our first ever match in September.