Royal Navy Women Suffer Opening Inter Service Match Setback


RN Women XV


RAF Women

Pippa Hutchinson (loosehead prop) became the 34th capped played for the Royal Navy Women
Emma Swinton gets to grips with England international Amy Cokayne
No way through for Navy skipper, Charlotte Fredrickson
Sarah Jenkins looks to counter attack in the second half
Sam Alderson had few opportunities at flyhalf with very little possession
Kate Parkman runs hard at the RAF(W) defence

The RAF Women had laid down markers as to their form in their opening game of the 2016 Inter Services.  Despite losing 26-7 at home to the Army they showed enough evidence that their squad has clearly developed over the last year, boosted by a core of players with representative honours.  Though the Royal Navy Women made them work hard for their victory, ultimately they had to contend with a heavy defeat, 47-0, despite playing some of their best rugby of recent seasons.  The paradox of sport.

At the core of the RAF team was an 8,9,10 axis that consisted of Amy Cokayne (England), Lucy Nye (England U20) and Sian Williams (Wales) with the welsh sevens duo of Chrissy Siczowa and Charlie Murray in the centre, the size of the task confronting the Royal Navy was easy to assess.  In the first half the commitment in defence of the Royal Navy Women was by far the most pleasing aspect of their play and through sheer tenacity, work rate and some good organisation they kept the much vaunted RAF backline scoreless in the opening quarter.  Eventually it took a break from Williams and a simple off load to Cokayne for the RAF to cross the line for the opening try.

The Royal Navy Women however were not despondent and though they were being starved of possession they were still up for the fight in terms of their defence.  It seemed impossible for them to maintain the work rate at such high levels and eventually the home team had to yield and in the last seven minutes of the half Murray was on hand to poach two tries either side of one from co-centre Siczowa.  28-0 to the RAF Women and the omens weren’t looking good for the second half.

However, the spirit of this current RN Women’s squad should never be under estimated.  From the start of the half they not only upped the quality of their defence but they also began to find some composure when they were able to get their hands on the ball.  With Fredrickson, as always, leading by example, both Sarah Jenkins and Kate Parkman were able to make in roads into the RAF defence with strong ball carries.  However, the RAF’s defence was also well organised and the home side were unable to keep the ball for long enough periods to make the pressure tell on the scoreboard.

At halftime the outlook was ominous for the Royal Navy Women but they restricted the RAF to three scores in the second forty.  Murray collected her hat trick with lock forward Kate Edwards and winger Jess Feeley getting the others.  The RAF created a number of other chances but ferocious tackling and always fully committed defence from the RN Women kept forcing the errors.  The spirit of this defence was certainly embodied by new flanker Sam Bannard.  Having taken a knock early in the game she was finally forced off injured late in to the match have put her body on the line once too often.  Her commitment mirrored the spirit of the team, though the score line was a fair reflection of the superiority of the RAF on the day it does not reflect that the Royal Navy team played probably the best rugby of their season so far. 

RN Women Team: Pip Hutchinson (1st cap), Emily Park *, Kate Parkman *, Annemarie McIntyre *, Helen Stevenson *, Sam Bannard, Charlotte Fredrickson (C) *, Stacey Hargrave *, Oli Critchley *, Sam Alderson *, Billi Staite, Sarah Jenkins (VC) *, Fiesha Greene *, Emma Swinton *, Louise Worsfold Reps: Pam Williams-Wilson * for Pippa Hutchinson, Sophia Dockerty for Emily Park, Alice Kightley * for Helen Stevenson, Rhiann Dilmore * for Kate Parkman, Kirsty Marlor * for Billi Staite, Elieen Tuivaga * for Feisha Greene, Holly Greenaway (not used) , Abi Sondack for Sam Bannard

* Denotes capped player

Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones  & @ Lee Crabb