A Great Start to the Season for the Royal Navy Women at Dorchester
Dorchester Ladies RFC
The Royal Navy Women's Rugby season started with a solid performance against Dorchester Ladies RFC; a convincing 46-0 win. The ladies demonstrated a good foundation across the squad with some key individuals putting in very strong performances. The team should take away a lot of positives and continue to build upon them throughout the season.
The Royal Navy kick off was cleanly received by Dorchester, who put together some organised attacking phases but were unable to breach the strong defence of the Navy. The pressure on Dorchester soon told with them knocking on which led to the first scrum of the match. This was cleanly won by an experienced Navy pack who didn’t lose a scrum all night. Intelligent kicking by PO Sarah Jenkins at fly half put the visitors in good field position, which they were able to capitalise on with strong running from team captain Lieutenant Charlotte Fredrickson and good hands through the backs to see PO Fiesha Green in space to score, 0 - 5.
A cleanly caught restart and the Navy Women were looking positive with ambition to go forward. An injury to a Dorchester player stopped play briefly and when it recommenced the Navy retained the ball from the following scrum. Smooth delivery from OC Ollie Critchley at scrum half led to slick passing through the backs and the first of many great lines run by Lt Cdr Kirsty Marlor - who was too good all night for Dorchester to handle. Critchley took the direct route, running over the Dorchester full back before offloading to Greene who scored her second try; the Navy extended their lead 0 - 10.
Following a quick passage of attacking play after the restart, Sub Lieutenant Pippa Hutchinson and AB Stacey Hargreaves showed that the hours in the gym really do pay off, with strong running and hard work in contact enabling the Navy to make the most of the penalty advantage being played, and Hargreaves scored, 15-0 after 17 minutes.
The Dorchester ladies showed attacking ambition throughout but failed to capitalise on the possession they had and would have benefitted from quicker play. The Navy defence was organised around the ruck and AB Megan Collyer proved that she’s not just a pacey winger she’s solid in defence under pressure as well, with Dorchester failing to make ground. Despite a season in the front row for Portsmouth Ladies RFC, LNN Alice Kightley jumped in the line out (not common for a prop!) and retrieved a difficult to gather ball for the Navy. Clever play saw Jenkins, who has been having a flying season for Southampton-based Trojans, saw the Royal Navy ladies up into the Dorchester 22.
A scrappy phase from the Navy gave the ball and momentum back to Dorchester, who seemed to find their feet with a more sustained passage of play keeping possession but making little ground. Another steady scrum from the Royal Navy and some flare and pace from scrum half Critchley picking and going, linked with Greene, and CPO Billie Staite who brushed off a tackle with great footwork to go over the line. The first half ended 0 - 22 after a successful conversion by AB Rhianna Dilmore.
The half time talk was delivered by returning skipper Fredrickson, who in her 14th year for Royal Navy Women's rugby is still as passionate as ever. She reminded the team to stay concentrated, to tighten up the support play in attack, and to work hard for a strong performance not just a win. Changes at half time saw Greene move from 13 to second row – an unusual position change mid-match but the capable back has been putting her physical direct style to great use for Trojans all season in the second row, and now favours a role in the pack. This meant the versatile Fredrickson moved into the back row.
The Royal Navy were clearly keen to implement the feedback from half time and a good passage of subsequent pack play saw Greene driving over the line for her hat trick; successfully converted by Dilmore, 0 - 29. A messy restart and Dorchester had the ball in hand and with good field position but it didn’t last long and a brutal counter ruck by PO Ann MacIntrye and Hargreaves won back the ball, kicked clear by Jenkins. Dorchester won their lineout, however their forwards failed to see the overlap and lost the ball to Marlor, who ripped it from them in contact. Some good Dorchester tackling kept the Royal Navy off the line initially, until they took advantage of space on the open side. Showing vision and confidence Jenkins linked up with forwards Greene, LAC Emily Park, and Staite who with work still to do, managed to go over the line for a well-deserved second score, putting the Navy ahead 0 - 34. The Royal Navy won the next scrum and with more good work from the backs, this time it was full back AB Drew Powell who created the overlap to score the 6th try, 0 - 39.
To their credit Dorchester’s heads never dropped and they continued with enthusiasm and ambition. AB Abi Gilbertonson continued her successful first outing for the Navy stealing Dorchester ball at the lineout. The backs, still full of running in the last 10 minutes saw Fredrickson run decisively, and not needing the support from Marlor, she added a final 8th try, with Dilmore making her 3rd conversion of the evening concluding the match 0 - 46.
My moment of the match: after only two days of training, complete rugby newbie AB Amy Bryne played for the opposition, called for the ball, caught and rode the incoming tackle to the ground; and presented well for quick play. You couldn't ask for anything more from someone so new to the sport, a promising start to her future in Royal Navy Rugby.
Next up for the Royal Navy Women is a home game at HMS Collingwood where they take on Portsmouth RFC Women on 8th Febryary, kick off 1900. #GoNavy
Team List: SLt Pippa Hutchinson, LH Emily Park, LNN Alice Kightley, PO Ann MacIntrye , AB Abi Gilbertonson, AB Rhianna Dilmore, Lt Charlotte Fredrickson (C), AB Stacey Hargreaves, OC Ollie Critchley, PO Sarah Jenkins (vC), CPO Billie Staite, Lt Cdr Kirsty Marlor, PO Fiesha Greene, AB Megan Collyer, AB Drew Powell, AB Becky Deacon, AB Amy Bryne
Words by H Stevenson
Images Royal Navy Rugby Union© John Walton