Girls in freezing finale at Gardens
By Jacquie Ladyman
The girls concluded their first season back with a 7’s tournament at the Saints, followed by watching the women’s Premiership final between Saracens and Harlequins.
The conditions were unbelievable with a howling gale making late April colder than deepest January.
In the first stage of the waterfall we played ON’s, Towcester and Newark. The squad was Jess, Hollie, Mimi, Ella, Amma, Mollie, Charlie, Eva, Hattie and debutant Caelyn.
Our first game against Towcester showed some good attacking play and the ability to keep the ball alive. Unfortunately we also failed to make our tackles, which resulted in a high scoring game. Amma and Mimi got on the scoresheet, but Towcester scored a few early tries before we got our act together, leading to a final score of 6-2.
In our second match we played Newark, who had added some forward grit to their speedy backs. Olney came out fighting, however, and bossed from start to finish. Newark are a team who need watching and whenever we took our foot off the gas they scored. Jess, Amma, Mimi, Hollie, Eva and Caelyn scored for Olney. This was a welcome return to form for Eva and a great debut for Caelyn. Hollie showed her usual grit on her return to the team.
Our final pool match was against ON’s. This was actually a decent performance but the match was dominated by the very quick ONs wing, who ran in four tries from acting half. This was frustrating given we’d agreed at the coaches meeting the rules didn’t permit this....but there you go. Jess showed a great return to form all day, making some breaks blending pace, skill and strength and scoring two tries to finish at 5-2. A much better result than the final score suggests.
In the finals stage, fortunately or unfortunately we went into Pool 2 due to our high scoring in the opening rounds. The result of this was we were up against the rest of the local heavy artillery in Kettering, Peterborough and Market Harborough. Playing teams a notch above you is in some ways a positive, but it would’ve been nice to end the season with some easier games! Due to the freezing conditions record keeping fell down, but all the matches followed a similar pattern. We ran the opposition close, but a bit of slack defence and handling errors prevented the win. We pushed Peterborough all the way, level pegging them until the last couple of minutes when they pulled away to win 4-2, Jess again scoring a brace. Kettering, who we didn’t play in the regular season due to their strength, we pushed to the limit in a 5-3 loss. Market Harborough, who had two teams on the day, showed pace round the edges but we held them close to lose by a similar score.
The team did well throughout the day in awful weather. Jess led from the front, well supported by Charlie who hooked well. Molly showed great running ability and will be a real threat next season. Ella and Eva did some excellent work in winning the ball in the tackle and on the ground. Caelyn had a promising debut and Hollie, despite a knock, played with her usual reckless bravery. Hattie made some great tackles on her return, whilst Amma and Mimi would grace any team in the league.
The girls also got the opportunity to meet Sarah Bern, the one of the stars of England’s 6 nations Grand Slam this year
So ended the first season for the “new” Olney girls. From 2 players a year ago to 15 now. Two teams next season with rugby for girls from year 6 upwards. It’s been a great journey, driven by a committed group of players who are unrecognisable from the first training session. Well done girls!