This was a blue chip affair, featuring the strongest teams in the region. We had hopes of beating one of the “big clubs” for the first time, but it was not to be. Our reduced squad of Jess, Amma, Lottie, Charlie, Mimi, Ella, Bethany and Molly paired with Lucy, Izzy and Katie from Bletchley. The Bletchley girls have obviously worked hard in training and made some excellent contributions. We played 6 matches in total, lending players to the opposition on a couple of occasions.
We started against the hosts, with whom we’d had a ding dong battle before Christmas, winning narrowly. On this occasion Aylesbury took the lead following some concerted pressure and slack defence from Olney. Our defensive line speed and rucking, two big assets in recent weeks, were a notch below the required level. We then managed to string together a series of attacks which should have resulted in a couple of tries, but support play was lacking. As the hooter went the ball was in Olney hands and with one final drive Mimi got her hands on the ball and, showing immense strength for a girl of her size, powered over the line. Final score 1-1, probably a fair reflection.
Match 2 was against Fullerians. Our attacking play was much improved but the defence was again porous and only some last ditch tackles saved the day. Lottie popped up to score an excellent try and Amma’s hard running was rewarded with a try and some near misses. Fullerians pegged us back twice, but Mimi added to her tally showing some fast feet. The icing on the cake was a try for debutant Izzy, who ran strongly all day. Final score 4-2 to Olney.
We then moved into matches against the more powerful teams.
Our games a couple of weeks ago against Buckingham had been close but the opposition had reinforced in the interim. Olney were under the pump for most of the game, although both Mimi and Lottie kicked well. Our kicking game is miles ahead of all the other teams we have played so far. Charlie put in some great runs and got to ground well. Jess dominated several mauls and ripped possession back. That said, Buckingham played well and scored a couple of well taken tries. The final score 2-0.
Next up were Hitchin, my vote as team of the tournament. In their captain they have one of the best players encountered so far. They have also recruited well. With their most skilful girls playing an offloading game rather than trying to beat several players on their own they created space. Despite some brave cover tackling from Bethany and Molly, Hitchin scored regularly. Frankly, we were beaten by a better team on the day, with the final score being 5-0.
The next game against Old Albanians, the best performers on the day, was the most frustrating. Olney started well and made yards. When OA’s got their first possession they ran through a few tackles and scored. We kicked off and the same happened. Before Olney could get their act together they were 5-0 down. Then we began to get back into the game. Ella ran strongly and Jess, Amma and Mimi all threatened the line. Support runners continued to be an issue and we were held up short twice. Amma then crossed the line with OA’s reeling. If the match had been 5 minutes longer Olney would have had a chance of coming back into it, but the match was lost in the first few minutes. Final score OA’s 5 Olney 1.
The last match was against the old enemy Towcester. Given that Tows finished second on the day, to hold them 2-0 was no mean feat.
In summary, this was a day with some decent individual performances and skill but a drop in teamwork. It was also the first experience of a raw February afternoon’s rugby for most, which didn’t help. We also missed Eva, Hollie and Hattie who played well in our recent victories. Given recent victories this was a wake up call, but the girls have worked hard all season and they will bounce back stronger. Two steps forward and one step back!