Omne trium perfectum - RN(W) v Portmouth RFC Ladies match report

27

RN Women XV

10

Portsmouth Ladies RFC

3 from 3 as the RNRU(W) continue their winning streak by beating Portsmouth RFC Ladies 27-10

Omne trium perfectum (everything that comes in threes is perfect) certainly rang true on a cold and still evening on Wed 24 Feb at HMS COLLINGWOOD as the RN(W) made it a hat-trick of wins this season.  Earlier worries about Portsmouth Ladies struggling to field a team were put aside as the RN(W) went through their preparations to face what resulted in a strong Portsmouth Ladies squad.  Some recognisable faces from the Army and UK Armed Forces rugby squads took to the field in Portsmouth colours, but this did not affect the focus and determination of the RN(W) and it was game on as Simon Priestly (RNRURS Referee) blew the whistle to start the match.

From the outset it was clear that this was the strongest opposition that the RN(W) had faced this season, with them having their space cut down quickly in attack by an agile and fast Portsmouth Ladies defence.  In the early rucks it took the RN(W) a bit of time to take control, with the Portsmouth Ladies clearing out effectively. However, it wasn’t long until Loogle Worsfold broke through a disorganised Portsmouth Ladies defence to go over for the first try of the game.  Sadly, the conversion was unsuccessful but the RN(W) were 5-0 up.  Rattled from conceding early points, the Portsmouth Ladies went on a dedicated offensive spree, pinning the RN(W) in their own half and having to make every tackle count.  Fortunately for the RN(W), the Portsmouth Ladies could not make full use of their initial attacks and the RN(W) were able to turn the ball over on their own 22 metre line cleared their lines with a good kick from scrum half Olly Chritchley.  The pressure was only momentarily relieved as Portsmouth Ladies again made ground into the RN(W) half with effective running and rucking up to the RN(W) 22 metre line and then a superb piece of ball handling.  Missed tackles by the RN(W) saw the Portsmouth Ladies number 12 go over to level the score, with the subsequent conversion missed (5-5).  After a quick re-focussing talk by Captain, Charlotte Fredrickson, the RN(W) attacked with gusto and quickly made ground into the Portsmouth Ladies half with Olly Critchley feeding the backs with quick accurate passing.  As they moved closer to the Portsmouth Ladies try line it was the turn of the forwards to put in the hard graft with them picking off the back of the rucks and crossing the gain line consistently.  As the line came within reach, Olly Critchly spotted a gap around the fringe of the ruck and exploited it only to be held up short of the line, but the RN(W) recycled the ball quickly allowing Sarah Jenkins to run into space and over for the second RN(W) try.  Loogle Worsfold converted making it 12-5.  This was how it remained for the final few minutes of the half.

The half time team talk in the RN(W) camp was one of positivity and determination to take the game to Portsmouth ladies in the second half.  This they did, and right from the re-start the RN(W) played direct and clinical rugby.  An effective ruck around 30 metres out allowed Charlotte Fredrickson to pick up the ball and break through the Portsmouth Ladies defence with some powerful running and hand offs to score.  The conversion was unsuccessful making it 17-5.  Having caught the Portsmouth Ladies off guard, it was their turn to catch the RN(W) off guard.  From the re-start the RN(W) conceded a penalty at the ruck which the Portsmouth Ladies decided to run, driving in to the RN(W) half.  They started rucking well against the RN(W), drawing in players and leaving gaps out wide.  The Portsmouth Ladies exposed this with some excellent handling, driving through to within touching distance of the RN(W) try line, this left yet more space out wide which, after a quickly recycled ball, Portsmouth Ladies were able to go over for their second try of the game.  Unable to convert the try, the RN(W) were still a converted try in the lead, 17-10.  The half continued with a running battle between the forwards in the middle of the pitch.  A particular contest was at the scrum where although the RN(W) were able to secure quick ball they were lapsing in the latter part of the scrum allowing the Portsmouth Ladies to get a drive on, meaning the RN(W) scrum half was getting messy ball and was unable to get effective passes to the backs.  Midway through the half, the RN(W) made a selection of changes in order to bring on some fresh legs.  The Portsmouth Ladies however started to get their game back on track with more effective rucking and good running lines making the RN(W) work hard in the tackle which they were more than able to do.  This defensive work was relentless for approximately 10 or so minutes when an injury brought some respite and a chance to get fluids on-board.  It also gave the RN(W) Captain the chance to rally her team once more when she demanded that they stopped playing rugby in their own half.  They duly obliged, and went on the offensive, taking the game back to the Portsmouth Ladies.  The pressure they applied could not be contained allowing Charlotte Fredrickson to pop up and go over for her second try of the game.  The conversion was beautifully struck putting the visitors on a huge up hill struggle (24-10).  This new found energy did not let up even though players were going down with cramp. The RN(W) kept the pressure on causing panic within the Portsmouth Ladies defence.  Portsmouth Ladies defence couldn’t hold out and they were penalised for not rolling away in the tackle.  The RN(W) decided that the extra points would put the game well beyond reach and elected to kick for goal.  Loogle Worsfold had clearly found her kicking form as the ball sailed between the uprights (27-10).  The RN(W) defence continued to hold out even though the Portsmouth Ladies tried to make ground again but it was all in vain as the final whistle blew the RN(W) had made the best start to a season in memory with a hard fought third win.  After the match Megan Lunn (winger) said,

“Before the match there was definitely more nerves amongst the team than in previous games and we were feeling the weight of our success.  These nerves were good and it was a hard fought game but it certainly means more than the previous two this season.  You can see from everyone’s faces that we all felt a massive sense of accomplishment from this victory and I think we all learned a lot.

New to the game and the RNRU(W), Megan was asked what being part of the RNRU(W) was like?

“I am so proud to be with this amazing bunch of girls.  Training with them, playing with them and living with them is just great.  I am continually learning both on the field and off it at the training camps.  For me personally, the progress I have made is mainly down to the coaching staff and the more experienced players in the team.  With their encouragement, my skills and confidence have come on leaps and bounds.  What I enjoy most about being part of the RNRU(W) is the sense of belonging.  We are all in this together and it’s almost like having a second family.  I would encourage anyone that wants to be part of an amazing sporting team to think about giving rugby a go.  It’s great!  I am so excited to see where we go from here.”

RNRU(W) Squad:  1. Alice Kightley, 2. Amy Risker-Woods, 3. Kate Parkman, 4. Helen Stevenson, 5. Rhiann Dilmore, 6. Anne-Marie McIntyre (Player of the Match), 7. Pippa Hutchinson, 8. Charlotte Fredrickson (Captain), 9. Olly Critchley, 10. Sarah Jenkins, 11. Billi Stait, 12. Nicola Elvidge, 13. Loogle Worsfold, 14. Megan Lunn, 15. Kathy Golding.  Subs 16, Rose Gleghorn, 17. Kate Collins, 18. Annmarie Musslewhite, 19. Lynne Donnachie, 20. Holly Greenaway, 21. Rachel Wain, 22. Abbi Sondack.

Article by David Martin (RNRU(W) Communications Manager)
Images by Alligin Photography / © David Martin