Last Gasp Try Denies RN a Well-Deserved Win

15 February 2023

19:30 @ USSG Portsmouth

Senior Women XV


Havant Ladies

AB Wtr Daisy Lumsden scored the final try of the match…but not for the Navy. On the back of a Player of the Match performance on the weekend, the Havant wing dotted down in the corner setting up a conversion for the win. The shot at goal was at the limit of the Red and Whites 10 and the game ended with a 19 all draw.

The two-day camp paid off as the players demonstrated an understanding of their shape in defence and attack and a strong cohesion between backs and forwards as they ran their patterns. They worked tirelessly for each other and the tired smiles after the match were telling of how strong the player bonds are.

The Navy showed intent and enterprise throughout with Horne contributing to the dominant tackle statistics. Cole and Ashby were a handful to defend against as they looked to take the game to the flanks, attacking the blindside and the space in the wide channels.

Sopp, converting two tries, had clearly brought her kicking boots as she continued to provide strong attacking platforms from the territory gained. Not to be out done her opposite number kicked a timely 50-22 allowing a period of Havant dominance in the final 20.

The Women’s first try came from a powerful carry by Lucy Honeybell setting up a perfect finish for Sondack close to the sticks. With reward comes risk and the defensive hits and strong carries left bodies strewn across the park. Bloxham and Maxwell were called into the fray earlier than expected quickly settling into the front row and at 12.

Havant countered hard in the second half and were straight back in contention with a converted try as the Navy defence began to narrow. Havant did go on to miss some overlap opportunities either due to a dropped pass or strong one-on-one tackles by the Navy’s last wide player. On two occasions Havant were fortunate not to see yellow for slapping down a failed intercept. The officials were quick to ping for illegitimately slowing down play and not retiring with Swain suffering the 10 minutes’ consequence.

Keen to get the scoreboard turning over again, after another enormous kick to touch from Sopp. The Women formed a tight driving maul, marshalled at the back by Horne who took the team plaudits by scoring.

After a clear out of the bench with 15 to play the Havant Bomb Squad took the lead for the first time. In pre-seasons this could have led to capitulation as fitness levels began to fall off, but this match showed there is still a lot of gas in the tank in the final 10 minutes as one awry pass stopped a certain try.

It wasn’t long until the boisterous crowd was back on its feet as a ‘Hail Mary’ pass was caught by Ashby. A certain candidate for try of the season across Navy Rugby as she stepped inside players, brushed off tacklers and having set off inside the Navy’s half went on to score under the posts!

The lead was short lived and perhaps on reflection a 19-all draw was the correct result.

Head Coach Sam Cuff said, “Tonight’s performance has provided a sound footing for the rest of the season, with the players having quickly taken to some of the changes introduced in training this week. We caused problems for ourselves through ill-discipline and the odd mistake but did a lot of things very well throughout the game and introduced some new players to RN Senior rugby. I’m excited to get the squad back together in March and prepare for the Marine Nationale and RAF fixtures in Plymouth.”

Congratulations to Bugler Bronagh Gibb who last night became the first Royal Marine to play RN Senior Women’s Rugby. Coming on as a 2nd half replacement, she made an impressive debut including the offload to Ashby.

RN Senior Women: Rosie Staples, Kiera Gavan, Lucy Honeybell; Laika Swain, Abigail Sondack; Abi Pearce, Mel Cummins, Evie Horne; Holly Cole, Chloe Sopp, Jasmine Abel, Suz Badger, Sian McLaughlin, Abi Ashby, Rose Dixon (C)

Replacements: Mia Edson, Ellen Bloxham, Bronagh Gibb, Emma Maxwell.

Words by J Campbell-Baldwin;

Images by NAVYFit/ Mark Deller