East Midlands Development Tournament
By Jacquie Ladyman
Girls finally triumph against Towcester
The girls travelled to Bedford on Sunday for the East Midlands development tournament. In the absence of the injured Jess, Lottie took over the captaincy. The rest of the squad was Mimi, Amma, Charlie, Bethany, Hollie, Hattie and Ella. Mollie and Eva injured.
This was a waterfall affair, with two matches followed by a cup/shield/tankard seeding. A result of this was that we were bound to play one of the very strong teams first, and so it proved. ON’s girls section have been playing for years and their focus on the basics and cohesion proved too much. Olney didn’t help by switching off at the start and shipping two early tries. Missed tackles and a reluctance to ruck led to fears of a cricket score for the coaches, but Olney began to string together some defence and then attack. We pulled two tries back, but ON’s were always in control. A thumping hit off the ball on Charlie was the low point. That said, the girls didn’t lose heart and played to the hooter. Final score 10-2.
To describe the next match is difficult. You can only play what’s in front of you, and the Barbarians team we played next had shown fight in playing ON’s. Olney put them to the sword. It was as comprehensive a team performance as you could wish for, every girl in the team getting on the score sheet and three hat tricks. The Barbarians literally didn’t get out of their half at any stage. They fought to the end to their credit, but the final score was 16-0.
We then moved onto the finals. Our results put us into the shield section, in itself an achievement. Big upsets in the other pools meant we were grouped with Peterborough and Towcester, two strong teams. These two drew 1-1 in the first match, leaving the door open. We then played Peterborough in a howling gale. Perhaps our confidence was too high after the previous match, but we started badly and never got into it. Loose kicking when the oppo have a lightning winger is never a good plan. Despite some brave play we were beaten by a more accomplished team who were desperate to show they should’ve been in the cup final. Score 6-0.
The last match of a brutal day was against Towcester, with whom we’ve exchanged pleasantries a few times this season. The Olney girls put in an immense game. No quarter was asked or given, girls were unceremoniously rucked into the ground and we snapped into tackles. We came close a few times before Hollie drove through the gap and touched down. There then followed some desperate defence, hanging on in the poor conditions. Final score 1-0 Olney, our first ever victory over Towcester.
On the whole this was a positive day. Mimi topped the tackle count in every game and scored several tries. She also kicked well in the wind. Amma would’ve joined Mimi in a team of the tournament, strong runs and big hits. Charlie left everything out there and stepped up her game yet again. Lottie skippered well and distributed the ball accurately. Hattie and Ella, after a slow start, really got into the game and showed excellent running and mobility, getting around the pitch. Bethany protected her wing despite receiving several hospital passes. She did the basics right and when opportunity offered made good yards. Hollie had an immense day, scoring tries, desperate cover tackles and great work at the breakdown.