RN Women Fall Agonisingly Short in Thrilling Brickfields Encounter

25 March 2023

14:00 @ Plymouth Albion RFC

Navy Senior Women


RAF Senior Women

In a fixture that has seen several convincing performances from the RAF in recent years, it was time to see if the RN could rewrite the script by bouncing back from their 15-32 defeat last season, and they came within a whisker of pulling it off.

The RN were hoping to utilise the strengths they had gained from a tough defeat to Marine Nationale in a game they learnt bundles from. After a motivational team talk from their head coach Sam Cuff, experienced captain Rose Dixon led her side out. Her leadership was going to be a key asset for the back line as she was to make the tactical transition from fullback to 13. 

Less than a minute in, an unconverted try was scored by RAF winger Chelcey Greasley who capitalised on a perfectly timed kick from number 12 Rebecca DeFilippo.

A penalty from the RN in the 18th minute by fly half Chloe Sopp then narrowed the score to 5-3 and was no more than they deserved after piling on the pressure. After a series of back and forth action, RN captain Rose Dixon put pressure on the solid RAF defence with a 20 yard drive. This eventually led to a lineout on the 5 metre line where the RN were able to score a well-earned try courtesy of prop Rosie Staples after some disciplined hard carries close to the line. A conversion from Sopp made the score 10-5 at half time. The break would have given time for the Navy team to reflect on missed opportunities as some very well created overlaps were not taken advantage of, especially during a yellow card period for the RAF.

Greasley scored her second of the game to level the score to 10-10 after just 2 minutes into the second half showing blistering pace to cut through the RN’s defence. The rapid winger then claimed her hattrick in the 54th minute, after the RAF backs showed impressive handling to move the ball out wide in quick succession. A conversion from number 10 Sarah Graham widened the score to 10-17. Despite the RN showing a fighting spirit to try get back into the game they could not break down the resolute Air Force defence. The RAF was able to deny them any opportunity as the score remained the same at the full time whistle. Number 7 Charlie Murray received player of the match in a game that required relentless work-rate from the forwards to maintain a 7 point lead.

The RN deserve to keep their heads held very high and they will take a great number of positives from the match, in particular the stand out performance of Olivia Critchley-Peddle who put in lion hearted display of tackling and competed for every loose ball or jackling opportunity. They will now look forward to their historic matchup at Twickenham on May 13th.

Navy skipper Rose Dixon said, "We’re gutted not to have come away with the win but I’m so proud of all of the women that took to the field on Saturday, they really gave it everything. There’s a lot of positives to take out of this game and we’re looking forward on building on this performance for the Army fixture."

Head Coach, Sam Cuff, "Overall, another step up in performance but not quite enough today against a very well organised and determined RAF team. We’ll learn our lessons, develop over our next two friendly fixtures and look to be at our peak for Twickenham on 13th May."

Words by Oscar Pick

Images by Lee Crabb, Nick Kennedy, Cat Goryn and Jarrad Hulm