Olney girls take another step forward
By Jacquie Ladyman
The Girls hosted Peterborough on Sunday.
Peterborough are the powerhouse of girls rugby in the region so the coaches viewed this as a development opportunity. Despite this, the girls more than held their own until injuries took their toll.
Olney had 9 players, being Jess (captain), Charlie, Lottie, Amma, Mimi, Eva, Hollie, Ella and Bethany. Peterborough seemed to have an inexhaustible number of players, with more appearing through the hedge at regular intervals.
Olney didn’t have the greatest tournament the week before and training had been slightly flat. The message before the match was concentrate and play at our tempo, taking time when required. This needed leadership and Jess delivered, not only putting in a girl of the match performance but marshalling her team well.
The first match gave Peterborough a shock. Strong running and aggressive line speed stopped their attacks in midfield. Our rucking game was back in the groove and we retained possession well. Charlie and Ella did some good work in the pack, with Jess and Amma proving very hard to stop. Our support play was improved and Eva linked well. Peterborough scored midway through the first half, but Olney held it together and equalised via Jess. We continued to challenge in all aspects of the game, with fullback Mimi showing again why she has a bright future, covering across the pitch and coming into the line. In the second half Olney slipped off a few tackles and Peterborough eventually went over for the winning try. The match finished 2-1, an excellent performance.
The second game started in a blaze of glory, as Amma went over almost from the kick off for Olney. Another girl who hadn’t played before this season, Amma combines pace, grace and strength. Definitely one to watch. Peterborough then came onto the offensive with a rush defence. More experienced players might have chipped the blitz, but Olney got caught in possession a few times. The opposition had some very quick backs and were able to exploit mismatches for pace to score three tries. Our cause wasn’t helped by losing two key players, Eva who provides midfield wheels and Hollie who is developing into the sort of scavenger all teams need. We were loaned players by the opposition but, diplomatically, they were not of much help. One bright spot was the scrum, with Charlie hooking well and Lottie acting as scrum half. Lottie’s kicking was also excellent. Mimi managed to get one back for Olney, aggressively chasing a kick off and causing panic in the defence, beating all in a scramble to touch down. The match finished 5-2.
The final game was something of an anti climax. The pressure of losing key players told and we also missed a few tackles. One fluke try, one try that should’ve been disallowed by the (Olney) referee for a rip but no pass, put us on the back foot. Playing against the wind also didn’t help. Final score 5-0.
The Peterborough match report has this as a “comfortable” win for them. It was anything but. Olney really showed up for the first half of the day and “what if” remains a question for injuries. That said, Peterborough were deserved winners and the girls need to put together a whole afternoon of good play, whatever the circumstances. It is also frustrating for a fine defensive effort to be undermined by a couple of lazy tackles.
All that said, against this opposition there were plenty of positives. The younger players, especially Bethany, continue to develop well. Team spirit remains strong and the girls can take a lot of pride in some of their work. Thanks to the parents for their support, John and Rob for coaching and Louise, Ali and Jacquie for the catering.