A freezing first outing of the season for the Women
RN Womens XV
In freezing cold conditions and following changes of venue due to problems with the floodlights at HMS Collingwood and a water-logged pitch at Havant, the RNRU Women started their season at HMS Temeraire taking on Havant Ladies. With new head coach, Martyn Ruskin, and Assistant Director of Rugby, Paula Bennett-Smith, watching from the touchline, loyal supporters gathered to cheer on the team.
The Royal Navy Rugby Union Women’s knew they were facing some strong opposition - Havant Ladies are a hugely capable team currently unbeaten in the National Challenge 2 South League.
Havant made an impressive start to the match mounting a strong attack on the Royal Navy and this determined start was rewarded with an early try. Following the restart Havant again put the Royal Navy defence under pressure. An excellent kick from Sarah Jenkins took play deep into the Havant 22. With Havant now under pressure, ill-discipline led to the award of a penalty, which was quickly taken by the Royal Navy, resulting in a try by Nic Elvidge and the score stood level at 5-5.
An enthused Royal Navy mounted a strong defence against Havant with Laura Blagden forcing Havant into touch. The ball was knocked forward at the lineout and the resultant scrum led to a Havant penalty. Using the same tactic that the Royal Navy had used, Havant quickly took the penalty and with some swift passing were able to score under the posts. This was converted and Havant took the lead 5 - 12. Another persistent attack from Havant led to a further try and a half time score of 5 - 17.
Due to the freezing cold conditions the half time break was cut short which was just as well as the rain also began to fall steadily. The beginning of the second half mirrored the first half and Havant quickly scored another try to lead 5 - 22. The Royal Navy determinedly attacked throughout the remainder of the half and despite replacement Tara Tuivaga making ground, the Royal Navy were unable to break through the strong Havant defence. A scrum in the Royal Navy’s 22 saw a strong Havant pack drive forward and make a final score under the posts. This was converted and the game finished 5 - 29.
The new head coach had made the most of the opportunity to see his new team in action, with several new players joining the seasoned regulars. It will be interesting to see how his strategy develops over the coming weeks and months, under the watchful eye of Navy Rugby alumni, Paula Bennett-Smith. She will undoubtedly be able to offer the benefit of her vast experience as they work to increase the Women's player base and seek out new talent to join the side.
The RNRU Women's team season continues with a match against Trojan Women 2nds at 1900 on 31st January. Other matches before the tri-service championship are against Yeovil on 13th February, North Petherton on 28th February and Swansea University on 15th March.
Team: Lisa Christie, Kiera Gavan, Emily Park, Helen Stevenson, Emily Buchanan, Yvonne Mealy, Hannah Cole, Abi Sondack, Holly Till, Nic Elvidge, Laura Blagden, Sarah Jenkins, Emma Swinton, Kirsty Marlor, Abi Ashby, Katie Ives, Abi Gilbertson, Lauren Alton, Allanah Pope, Tara Tuivaga
Words by John Brennan
Images RNRU © Keith Woodland