Girls sign off in style
By Jacquie Ladyman
Welwyn & Fullerians
The girls travelled to Welwyn on Sunday for the final match of their regular season before moving into festival mode. The hosts were a new team to us and had a formidable track record. Also present were Fullerians, against whom we’ve had a couple of good games.
The squad was Jess as captain, Molly, Eva, Ella, Amma, Mimi, Charlie, Hollie, Bethany and newcomers Mia and Isabelle.
We played each team twice, the first game Wycombe/Fullerians showing a very well drilled outfit capable of shifting the ball at pace. We were then up for our first hit out against Fullerians. The opposition had improved hugely since we last played them and Olney were caught flat footed. Fullerians got on the scoreboard early on working a nice move to their flying winger. Olney were guilty of a couple of high tackles which conceded ground. Once we’d shaken off the dip the girls began to motor. Mimi’s kicking drew appreciative noises from the crowd and Jess had her mojo back making huge yards. Amma and Jess together terrify opposition defences as they have power and pace. If more offloads went to hand we’d be away to the races. Mimi again showed why she is one of the brightest players on the circuit with some excellent breaks, outrunning her support on several occasions. Molly had a welcome return to form, scoring a try by selling a dummy and powering over. Amma had a try disallowed but scored again and Jess got onto the scoresheet twice to make it a 4-1 win. Both new girls showed real promise, Mia making some cracking runs and Isabelle showing great positional sense for a newcomer, snaffling up her opposite number in solid tackling.
The second game was a tough affair, with Olney definitely rattling the opposition. Our rucking was superb with Charlie, Ella and Jess really blasting into counter-rucks. Charlie also showed her solidity at first receiver. Molly added a second try, but Welwyn were too strong and ran out 3-1 winners. Olney were guilty of getting sucked into the middle of the park and Welwyn were very good at stretching the defence.
The third game saw us play Fullerians again, who continued to improve. Eva, who was all action as stand-in scrum half, moved the ball from an excellent ruck platform and Charlie took two against the head. Mia came agonisingly close to a try in her first outing for Olney. Our defensive line was a bit ragged and Fullerians managed to score, but Amma hammered through the defence to score twice. Jess added another to make the score 3-1. Hollie put in another massive effort before taking a knock to the nose, a consequence of her playing, as ever, in the red zone.
The final match of a hot tough day saw Olney fall away. A couple of tries which, on another day, might have been disallowed were given and tired players struggled to get back into position. One highlight was Bethany who put in some of her best runs of the season on the wing, stepping in and out. She’s an unsung heroine of the team, if only we gave her the ball with a bit more room! We didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet, losing 4-0.
There were lots of positives on the day. Two new players doing well with more to come, great runs and rucking. Some aspects to work on around using our strengths outside the pack, but this will come. At Christmas a team like Welwyn would’ve put 10 tries on us, which shows another leap forward.
Well done to all the girls for the efforts to create a team from nothing this season. Lots of festival matches to come now!