Army Women Maintain Unbeaten Inter Services Record
RN Womens XV
When Rosie Haigh crossed for the Army Women’s final score they had retained their Inter Service crown with another resounding victory, 65-0. A winning margin one point more than last year but well short of the record score that many were predicting. And the reason? Eighty minutes of almost continuous backs to the wall defence from a Navy side determined to make the Army work for every single point.
This season has probably been the most difficult for the RN Women’s team in recent years. A busy operational programme denied them access to many established players through the build up to the Inter Services and a handful throughout the Inter Services itself. Without continuity of players the coaching staff have, to their credit, been both inventive and pragmatic as they have continued with their more strategic aims of building player depth.
Well aware that they were going to have little ball against a side packed with Premiership players the side took the field with more modest goals to achieve. Though naturally disappointed not to have troubled the score board they should be well satisfied with their immense work rate in defence that forced the Army in to far more errors than they anticipated. The reality that they were underpowered was compensated for, whenever possible, by numbers. However that did result in gaps out wide which eventually the Army were able to exploit.
Later in the afternoon 81,116 fans at Twickenham were appreciative of a last gasp, try saving tackle from the Royal Navy’s fullback, Jon Humphrey. It deserved the appreciation but was matched on three occasions by Sam Alderson who was heroic at the back for the Women.
Up front the Navy forwards battled hard for the scraps of possession they were able to secure but it was a long morning for the half back pairing of Kirst Marlor and Nikki Elvidge who were under immense pressure, spending nearly all of the game on the back foot. That the strong running of Mel Landman was seen at all is a testament to some creative play under pressure.
In the loose the RN Women’s pack were feisty to the end and ensured that the Army tries did not come through the middle but were worked for. However the Army were able to play ‘keep ball’ and eventually successive battering at the defensive door would inevitably make the defence narrow and they had the pace to get in to the wide channels for the tries.
Twenty six consecutive IS wins tells its own tale about how strong Army Women’s rugby is. The current side are probably the best pound for pound side in Service rugby at the moment and the run looks set to continue. For the RN Women they will hope, no doubt, that unavailability is not such an issue next season. With three more players, Kate Parkman, Nik Williams and Nikki Elvide, all winning their caps their depth in the wider squad continues to slowly grow. They now need to get more of their front line squad on to the pitch more often. The RAF match was a disappointment but their performances against Marine Nationale (F) and the Army Women show that though it has been a very hard year the RN Women side remain up for the fight and continue to battle forwards, even in adversity.
Royal Navy (Women): Williams-Wilson *, Kightley *, Parkman, Williams, Stevenson *, Hutchinson *, McIntyre, Fredrickson *, Marlor *, Elvidge *, Landman, , Morton (Capt) *, Swinton *, Grant *, Alderson *
Reps: Myrans, Dilmore, Marshall *, Brown, Blagden, Goodwin, Tuivaga, Rawlinson
* capped player
Images Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones