RAF Women Too Strong for Valiant Navy Side


RN Womens XV


RAF Women

Olly Critchley had few opportunities with the ball during her cap winning match
Nikki Elvidge had a strong game and made a number of good breaks
Captain Loz Morton rounds the RAF defence to score the Royal Navy’s second try
Rhian Gilmore feels the full force of the RAF defence
Helen Stephenson secures the ball despite some illegal attention from the RAF forwards
Anne-Marie McIntyre took a nasty blow to the head early on but continued for the remainder of the match
Kate Parkman runs strongly add the RAF Women defence

The RAF Women gave what was probably their best ever Inter Service performance to win this opening round match in the 2015 Inter Services tournament.  They will travel to Aldershot with a side that are able to pose the dominant Army Women some questions.  For the Royal Navy Women it was a hard day at the office but it remains to their credit that having been forced to defend heroically for nearly all the game they still had the strength of character to keep challenging the RAF, which was rewarded with a coupe of late tries.

After an opening five minutes where the Royal Navy Women looked sharp and Nikki Elvidge had managed to make a couple of good breaks the RAF Women began to find the rhythm.  With their international number 8, Sian Williams, having a commanding game the Royal Navy Women struggled to get any possession and the RAF half backs of Sophie Gale and Jen Braysher were able to control the game. 

It was through their forwards that the RAF scored their first drive but the second was a team effort and having gone through the phases the Royal Navy Women simply ran out of numbers in defence allowing the RAF’s international centre, Charlie Murray, to cross for an excellent try, which Braysher converted.  Another try was conceded before the Royal Navy were able to mount any sort of attack.  Olly Critchley, winning her RN Women’s cap, found some space and made a smart break down field, however she was eventually held up in the tackle and the RAF Women came away with the ball and were able to go the length of the field in a sweeping move involving forwards and backs alike.  Again it was Murray who was on hand at the head to cross for the try.

The RAF Women extended their lead to 29-0 with another long range try, this time from fifty minutes, as again the Royal Navy struggled to control possession.  When they did, towards the end of the half, Nikki Elvide again showed some elusive foot work to make the break and create an opportunity which saw flyhalf Sam Alderson put Charlie Fredrickson in for a well taken try.  Sam missed the conversion and at half time the RAF Women lead 29-5.

The start of the second half was a similar story with RAF playing some great rugby and the Royal Navy Women tackling valiantly but unable to see much of the ball.  Further tries extended the RAF’s lead to 48-5.  With replacements giving the Royal Navy’s defensive effort some fresh impetus they managed to get a little more parity at the breakdown and secure some possession.  With a precision that was missing earlier tin the game they were patient in attack and at last the RAF Women’s defence had to work and realign through the phases.  Eventually it was Loz Morton who broke the tackle and ran in for the RN Women’s second try.  Followed soon after by Sam Alderson with their third.  In its own way it was a remarkable mini revival considering the pressure the Navy team had been under for most of this match.

The RAF Women had the last say in the match and overall they played extremely well.  Their last try, breaking through an exhausted Royal Navy Women’s defence took the final score to 55-15 and the RAF had regained the trophy.  For the Royal Navy, Nikki Elivdge played her best match in the RN jersey and was pick of the players whilst Lizzie Grant and Olly Critchely can be proud of their contributions, albeit mainly in defence, in their cap winning game.

With a number of the Royal Navy Women players taking knocks in what was a bruising defensive effort they will re-group before heading to Kneller Hall and the challenge of the Army Women.  On the day they were out played by a strong and committed RAF Women’s side.

Royal Navy (Women): Williams-Wilson *, Kightley *, Percival *, Marshall *, Williams, Fredrickson *, Stephenson *, McIntyre, Marlor *, Alderson *, Grant, Elvide, Morton (Capt) *, Swinton *, Critchley

Reps: Parkman, Collins, Dilmore, Brown Tuivaga, Battesby

* capped player

Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones & © Lee Crabb