RNW v Trojans

10

RN Womens XV

32

Trojans

Loz Morton was clearly the Navy’s player of the match and caused problems for Trojans all game
Emma Swinton looks to making a darting break from scrum half, one of a number of players out of position in the RN(W) backs
Stacey Hargrave in the thick of the action. Strong ball carrying, particularly in the first half, marked her performance as one of her best in a Navy shirt
Slow ball gave the RN(W) back line little opportunity; Andrea Marshall is wrapped up back more strong Trojans defence
Loz Morton crossed for the Navy’s opening try
Stevo Stevenson grew into the unfamiliar role of centre and scored the RN Women’s second try

A battling performance from a much-changed RN Women side produced an exciting match against Trojans at HMS Temeraire yesterday. Though the women eventually lost 32 – 10 there were many performances, which should give cause for optimism, in their last outing before they open their Inter Services campaign against the RAF on 23 April. With some key players set to return for Inter Services, the team should be hopeful as they finalise their preparations and seek an unprecedented third consecutive victory against Air Force.

The early exchanges were evenly matched. Though the Navy had much of the ball the Trojans defence was very aggressive and solid. The returning Loz Morton made one telling break through the middle. This allowed the RN Women to put some real pressure on Trojans but though the home side crossed the Goal line good defence held the ball up and from the resulting five-metre scrummage the RN Women lost possession and the chance was lost.

The home side had lost Sam Alderson, to injury, early in the game. Her loss and the absence of a number of the regular backs meant that the three quarters had a distinct make shift feel about them. Whether it was this lack of familiarity, or a lapse of concentration having allowed Trojans off the hook, but shortly after nearly scoring the RN Women were five points behind. A midfield break from half way allowed Trojans behind the home team’s defence and some good handling saw them score a well taken try, which they were unable to convert. This was followed shortly after by second. Once more it was a missed tackle that did the early damage and good continuity allowed the away side to extend their lead to 10 – 0.

The double set back galvanised the RN Women. As with earlier in the match, they were not short of possession. The forwards were beginning to carry strongly with Stacey Hargrave and Paula Bennett-Smith particularly prominent. However they were unable to produce the quick ball for the backline to use effectively and too often an unforced error would allow Trojans to regain possession. It was from one of these turnovers that Trojans scored their third try. Possession was lost by the RN Women on their own ten metre line and they attacked wide on the right. Quick ball was moved back left and a simple wrap around out flanked the defence to give Trojans their third score.

The Navy team though were to have the last say in the half. From the kick off, and with little time left before half time, they were once more on the front foot. This time they were able to capitalise on their possession and from a couple of half breaks produced by the strong running forwards, Loz Morton was able to cross for a well deserved and well taken try. Half time and the Navy trailed 15 – 5.

The second half was, in very many ways, similar to the first. Trojans proved robust in defence and had the pace to hurt the home team when their defence lapsed, with their right wing and openside flanker particularly impressive. For the RN Women coaching staff there was enough to give them cause for optimism particularly with the knowledge of the players who will be returning in a fortnight’s time.

Having conceded an early score in the half the RN Women once more took the game to Trojans. Morton was again proving a handful whenever she had possession and the work rate of Caroline Penrose and Nik Williams was ensuring that a steady supply was forthcoming. In some ways this was the best period of the match for the home team as their error rate was reduced and they were able to build a few phases. This in turn asked more questions of the Trojans defence and eventually Helen Stevenson was able to cross for the RN Women’s second try to bring the score back to 22 - 10. One for the record books as there will not be many matches where she scores playing centre; rather than her usual home in the backrow of the pack.

Ideally the RN Women would have looked to build on the score but a long couple of days training began to take their toll and the final quarter belonged to Trojans. With the home side falling off a couple of midfield tackles the Trojans ensured that the RN Women were pinned in to their own half. Two final scores put a gloss on the scoreboard 32 – 10 in a match where both teams had contributed to an enjoyable open game for the watching spectators. Though the RN Women left the field naturally disappointed with the lost they have enough to be optimistic about. Some of the balance missing last night will be resolved with the returning players. This should also tighten up the defence a little as fewer players will be out of position. A couple of good days training, a fervent home support, at Burnaby Road, and a little more precision at the breakdown will ensure that they deliver when it matters. RN Women v RAF Women, 14:30 Wednesday 23 April.

RN Women: Pam Williams-Wilson, Emily Park ©, Kate Parkman, Nik Williams, Stacey Hargrave, Caroline Penrose, Elle Bloor, Paula Bennett-Smith, Emaa Swinton, Sam Alderson, Andrea Marshall, Loz Morton, Helen Stevenson, Laura Blagdon, Lizzie Grant Reps: Amy Risker, Lisa Christie, Vic Percival, Zoe Harrop, Katie Ives, Alice Kightly, Taranaivini Tuivaga

Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones