After 8 weeks of training and some brutally hard matches against experienced opposition, the girls travelled to Bletchley to play a composite Fullerians/Banbury team. The team was Jess (Captain), Charlie, Lottie, Ella, Molly, Amma, Eva, Mimi, Hollie, Hattie and our two colleagues from Bletchley, Amy and Lucy.
It’s impossible to overstate what an excellent team performance this was. Speedy wingers getting stuck into rucks, forwards making midfield breaks, support runs and chasing breaks down.
We played two matches, the first of 20 minutes and the second of 30 minutes. The coaches’ last words were “aggression and concentration”, but we managed to muddle the kick receipt, letting the ball drop and having some desperate defence on our line. That said, there was aggression throughout the play today. Once the girls had cleared their heads they took the ball downfield and scored three tries in succession. Skipper Jess made yards with each carry and scored, Amma, Eva and Mimi also making great runs.
The front row union of Charlie, Ella and Lottie had the games of their careers so far, rucking the opposition off their ball and keeping momentum up. The opposition had several quality players who took some hauling down and the midfield of Hollie, Eva and Molly brought off a number of fine tackles. Mimi again excelled at full back, coming into the line at pace and acting as a secure last line of defence.
Turning around 3-0 up, Olney then proceeded to go to sleep in the second half and shipped two early tries. This isn’t a team that gives up, however, and some storming runs from Lottie and Charlie, including Lottie’s first try for the club, got us back into the game. After that, despite some stout Fullerians defence, Olney picked up a couple more tries for
the game to end 6-2.
In Game 2 Fullerians came out firing and kept Olney under pressure for long periods of the first half. Our scrum performed excellently, with Lottie taking a couple against the head. Molly put in a mazy run on the wing and some covering tackles and Hattie distributed the ball well from scrum half. As we have the best kicker so far seen at this level, Mimi was able to mix up the kick-offs and put in some excellent defensive kicks to take the pressure off.
Amy made an excellent and brave recovery and run down the blindside, unselfishly giving the pass when she could have scored herself. Lucy also made some strong yards in midfield, growing in confidence throughout the game. Hollie came close to scoring her debut try and broke the line several times. As ever, having a reliable scrum-half is key and Hattie kept a cool head, choosing options wisely.
Eventually the pressure told on Fullerians and Olney began to run in tries. One in particular went through five pairs of hands until Eva found the gap and touched down. Amma and Jess continued to hammer through the opposition and both scored tries. What was also impressive was that the support was there for offloads when they were held up. Molly again looked for work from her wing and put in some brilliant tap tackles.
The final score was 8-2.
This was a performance to be be proud of. Quite apart from the excellent results, the girls organised themselves on the field and their match sense improves each week. Running lines, stacking the blindside, committing to rucks and recycling the ball are all things that were unimaginable a few weeks ago. The only downside of today was that Bethany, an ever-present in the squad, missed her first game having put in a massive effort the week before. A big thanks to John Smeraglia for his invaluable work on the coaching front today and in preceding weeks.