Olney Girls continue upwards
By Jacquie Ladyman
The girls travelled to Towcester on Sunday for the pre-Christmas waterfall tournament, playing three of the stronger teams in the area. We travelled with all eleven players and opposition shortages meant that for once we had the luxury of subs. The team was Jess, Molly, Ella, Lottie, Mimi, Charlie, Eva, Bethany, Hollie, Hattie and Amma.
We started against the home team in a brutally physical game where for the first time Olney were able to fight fire with fire. Olney shipped an early try but came out fighting and the opposition, to quote Corporal Jones, didn’t like it up ‘em. Both captains were warned after 5 minutes for scuffling, after which our line withstood attack after attack. Mimi relieved the pressure with her kicking and we then began to turn the screw. Our rucking was excellent, testament to the training hours the girls have put in. We went in at half time 1-0 down against a team used to having 4 or 5 on the board. The girls fell asleep at the start of the second half and let in two quick tries, which sealed the game. They then held out until the end, with Towcester crossing with the last play to win 4-0. A really gutsy performance.
Next up were Aylesbury. It took the team, which had a number of walking wounded, a while to get started. The opposition were brave tacklers and managed to bring off a number of last gasp tackles to deny Amma and Jess. Both Eva and Mimi made good runs, but the extremely narrow pitch cut down their ability to use their pace. Eventually pressure told and Mimi scored an excellent try showing her usual nifty footwork. Expectations that the floodgates would open were denied by a series of tries disallowed for handoffs, held up and similar infractions. The girls were also guilty of trying too hard. Aylesbury began to string moves together and it took some good defensive work to deny them. Just when the coaches were worrying that a draw would be snatched from the jaws of victory, the move of the day came. Amma, who had a great afternoon, broke a tackle and glided into space. The full back bravely chased her down but, as the tackle was made, Lottie popped up having made a lungbursting gallop from half way and took the scoring pass. No mean feat for a hooker to track one of the quickest in the tournament. The match ended 2-0 to Olney.
The final match saw us take on Old Albanians, a very strong team who gave us a real schooling in November and had just beaten Towcester. This was an absolutely ding dong battle that, despite Olney losing 3-0, was hard fought with no quarter given. The second half in particular was probably the finest hour of the season so far. Our rucking, despite some liberal interpretation of in from the side, was impeccable and we were held up short on several occasions. Ella in particular made one blockbusting run scattering the defence like skittles and falling agonisingly short.
Overall the girls showed again how much progress they’ve made since September when some had never touched a rugby ball before. We have a full fixture list after Christmas and have every reason to be optimistic. The team, to a girl, have earned their Christmas break!