Plymouth Albion Ladies just too strong as the RNRU(W) go down 10-22
On an almost perfect evening for rugby at Devonport Services RFC the RNRU(W) were looking to continue their winning run against a well drilled Plymouth Albion Ladies side. It was fair to say that this was going to be the strongest opposition that the RNRU(W) had faced this season and that it was game on!
Plymouth Albion Ladies kicked off and instantly you knew that it was going to be a hotly contested game of rugby. The RNRU(W) made a strong start securing solid ball at rucks and scrum half Drew Powell providing out half Sarah Jenkins slick ball to work with. Plymouth Albion Ladies were not going to be out done and used the ball wisely within the forwards keeping it close and tight. After 6 mins though they ventured into putting the ball out amongst the backs. The RNRU(W) defensive speed however allowed Sarah Jenkins to intercept a pass 60 metres from the try line and the chase was on. The Plymouth Albion Ladies out half was quick and caught her just outside the Albion 22 metre line but a strong hand off avoided the tackle but allowed other Plymouth Albion Ladies defenders to catch up. As Sarah crossed the line surrounded by the opposition the referee adjudged the ball to have been knocked on in the process of grounding and the try was not given. Plymouth Albion Ladies were clearly taken aback by this and went on the offensive straight away, making progress up the pitch with a good mix of good rucks and running safe rugby. This opened up gaps in the RNRU(W) defence and Plymouth Albion Ladies broke through approx 30 metres out and had a clear run to the line except for a quickly moving Drew Powell covering across and making the try saving tackle 10 metres out. The first quarter continued in this fashion with both sides playing attractive and open rugby but unable to make any substantive ground, the majority of the play occurring between the two 22 metres lines. The RNRU(W) pressure did bear fruit with Plymouth Albion Ladies conceding a penalty in front of the posts 30 metres out. This time Captain Charlotte Fredrickson decided to test Loogle Worsfold’s kicking boots and opted for the kick at goal. Loogle didn’t disappoint and the ball sailed between the posts putting the first points on the scoreboard (3-0). It wasn’t long before Plymouth Albion Ladies made another strong attack at the RNRU(W) line. This came in the way of a rolling maul from just inside the RNRU(W) 22 metres line the pressure could not be contained and the Plymouth Albion Ladies train powered over for the first try of the game. They could not covert the try and the score was 3-5. This clearly rattled the RNRU(W) with them having to defend against wave after wave of attacks from Plymouth Albion Ladies. The Plymouth Albion Ladies scrum was also starting to come together and they were consistently driving the RNRU(W) back, however the ever agile and committed Drew Powell was able to salvage possession and keep the RNRU(W) on the attack. The pressure of the Plymouth Albion Ladies attacks was just too much and the RNRU(W) went off their feet at the breakdown just before half time. The penalty was taken quickly by Plymouth Albion Ladies and they drove over for another try. Again they were unsuccessful in adding the conversion so the score at half time was 3-10.
Half time provided the team some rest bite from the high tempo game and allowed Head Coach George Hillan the opportunity to deliver a positive half time chat and an opportunity for Charlotte Fredrickson to rally her troops.
The second half didn’t start quite the way in which the RNRU(W) wanted with a pumped up and motivated Plymouth Albion Ladies coming out and going on the offensive from the outset. Plymouth Albion Ladies had a clear second half game plan which was to maximise the number of scrums in order to set themselves a platform to attack. 2 minutes into the second half they mounted such an attack from a scrum just outside the RNRU(W) 22 metre line with a pick up by their No 8 who made a strong run towards the line which the RNRU(W) defenders could not stop for a try under the posts. This was converted stretching the Plymouth Albion Ladies lead 3-17. From the re-start Plymouth Albion Ladies continued to drive home the attacks exploiting their advantage in the scrum and making the RNRU(W) work very hard in defence. Plymouth Albion Ladies didn’t waste much time in extending their lead further with yet another pick up from the back of a solid scrum 5 metres out from the RNRU(W) line, exploiting a gap and going over for the try. Again the conversion was missed and the score stood at 3-22. Another motivating talk behind the posts was delivered by the RNRU(W) captain and from the restart the team had clearly taken what the Charlotte had said and started putting it into practice. The RNRU(W) won the restart and went on the attack forcing the Plymouth Albion Ladies to defend whilst giving away territory. They almost converted this to a try but the referee stated that it had not been grounded and Plymouth Albion Ladies had a scrum from which they cleared their lines to just short of the halfway line. The RNRU(W) were not for giving up and won the subsequent lineout and again put pressure on the Plymouth Albion Ladies defence. Again they could not stop the RNRU(W) advancing over the gain line at every phase of play and they quickly made it to within 5 metres of the line. The Plymouth Albion Ladies defence could not sustain the pressure and went through a period of constant infringement and each time the RNRU(W) took a tap penalty. Plymouth Albion Ladies were very lucky not to have anyone sin binned and then it came; quick ball off a powerful ruck and slick handling to Loogle Worsfold who powered through the Plymouth Albion Ladies back line and over for the try. Loogle subsequently converted the try and the score stood at 10-22. Although Plymouth Albion Ladies continued to utilise scrums, the RNRU(W) pack leader, Stacey Hargrave, was able to focus her forwards to ensure they couldn’t mount attacks. Again Plymouth Albion Ladies infringed 35 metres from their own line, which led the referee to produce a yellow card. The RNRU(W) decided to go for the goal kick to narrow the gap but unfortunately Loogle Worsfold’s kicking boots let her down and the ball narrowly missed. The game finished 10-22 with both teams exhausted having clearly given their all for the 80 minutes. The game didn’t come without casualties with RNRU(W) players suffering 2 broken hands, 2 broken fingers, a dislocated finger and a knee injury. The match had been a battle but on the day the better team was victorious. After the match the RNRU(W) Player of the match Stacey Hargrave said,
“I am immensely proud of each and every one of the girls this evening. They never gave up but ultimately we were beaten by a better side. We will learn a lot from this and will be better for it ahead of the Inter Services matches”.
The RNRU(W) will face the Marine Nationale (F) away in Toulon, France on Wednesday 23 March.
Article by David Martin RNRU(W) Communications Manager
Images © Alligin Photography / Mark Andrews