Royal Navy Women End Season of Promise with Army Heartache
RN Women XV
As the final whistle blew at the end of the 14th Women’s Army Navy match those early season victories seemed a long way away. Convincing wins against HM Prison Service, Yeovil Ladies and Portsmouth were distant memories compared to the pain of two heavy Inter Service defeats. However, in many ways the performance in defeat was better than those in victory. With both the RAF and the Army Women teams now containing a number of international players and others with high representative honours the harsh reality is that currently, for the Women’s game in the Royal Navy, they can play well and still lose heavily.
The Army deployed a very simple match strategy but one which proved to be highly effective. They played a high tempo game which varied the point of attack on either side of the breakdown. This prevented the Navy getting numbers to the tackle and allowed the Army to recycle the ball and maintain possession. Eventually the constant wave after wave of Army attacks would find a chink in what was generally a well structured defence and they had the pace to exploit these opportunities. With a set piece that was also always comfortable the Royal Navy had to play most of the match without the ball.
It was the Army’s internationals who were to be dominant on the score sheet. In the first half six of their tries came from either England or Wales internationals, the seventh from their lively right wing, Jess McAuley, who lost little in comparison to her more illustrious team mates. Throughout the second half the Army’s pressure did not relent and further tries were given added value by some excellent conversion kicking from Wales centre Gemma Rowland.
74-0 was a comprehensive win and the Royal Navy will have been disappointed not to have managed to get one score from the match. It was probably the least that captain Charlotte Fredrickson deserved. Her personal performance was again first class with a high tackle count that did not diminish her willingness to run with the ball when the few and far between opportunities were presented. Fredrickson will also have been very pleased with the way her side worked for each other until the final whistle and literally tackled themselves to a standstill.
She was right to opt for goal late in the second half which was on the the edge of Sam Alderson’s kicking range (a similar range attempt in the first half was pushed wide by Louise Worsfold). With the overall Women’s performance as it had been, particularly their work rate in defence, they deserved at least one to go over and get the score board moving. However, with both kicks missing it was not to be and for the third consecutive year the Army were able to keep their line intact.
RN Women Team: Pippa Hutchinson *, Emily Park *, Kate Parkman *, Anne-Marie McIntyre *, Helen Stevenson *, Sam Bannard, Charlotte Fredrickson (C) *, Stacey Hargrave *, Sarah Jenkins *, Sam Alderson *, Drew Powell, Feisha Greene *, Lauren Morton *, Oli Critchley *, Louise Worsfold. Reps: Sophia Dockerty, Pam Williams-Wilson*, Alice Kightley * Kirsty Marlor *, Rhiann Dilmore *, Billi Staite, Eileen Tuivaga *, Holly Greenaway.
* Denotes capped player