Women's Develop XV Suffers Defeat to Havant in Compelling Fixture
Women's Development XV
A thrilling evening of rugby unfolded at Havant Rugby Club as the Royal Navy Women's Development XV, fueled by a successful advertising campaign which brought eight new players into their ranks, squared off against a formidable Havant side in a game aimed at growing awareness and the player base of women's rugby. The task of overcoming Havant on their home turf was never going to be easy, but the Navy women displayed unwavering determination and produced scintillating rugby.
From the very start, Havant, in front of their passionate home crowd, fired the first warning shot. It was their ubiquitous fullback who struck first, exploiting an overlap in the Navy's defence, leaving them flat-footed out wide. This early score took Havant ahead in the game, and it was clear that the Navy had a challenging task ahead.
However, the Navy soon showcased their potential, with scrum-half Newton delivering excellent passes to allow fly-half Render to exploit various attacking options. Havant, known for their expansive style of play, looked for opportunities, but the Navy's wide players and fullback Hill closed them down efficiently.
Havant extended their lead to 12 - 0, as the Navy's backs were slow to realign. A try-saving tackle from Moore prevented Havant from notching up their third try. Dominant tackles were a common sight, with McIntyre and Fredrickson leading the way.
As the game continued, the Navy's captain, Staples, displayed skill and vision. With 30 minutes on the clock, a competitive scrum in the center of the field eventually led to a swift attack on the left, where Wright was halted just short of the try line. A quick reset and a powerful charge by Staples created the space for Render to dive over for a score under the posts. McIntyre, reminiscent of the legendary John Eales, calmly converted the try.
The breakdown battles were fiercely contested, with Critchley-Peddle winning the lion's share of these contests. The Navy maintained their strong defensive setup, remaining connected, with Thorpe and McLaughlin executing crucial tackles to put their Havant counterparts on the deck.
In the second half, the Navy seemed a bit slower out off the blocks, allowing Havant to focus their ball carriers in the 10 channel. Havant capitalized on the numerical advantage, incrementally extending their lead.
Yet, the Navy women displayed resilience and fighting spirit. They turned to their trusty "pick and go" strategy, with Critchley-Peddle powering over for a well-deserved try. Havant replied swiftly, demonstrating their efficiency by scoring a similar try with fewer phases.
The Navy finished the game on the ascendancy, albeit ruing a couple of missed opportunities. Fullback Hill, who had been a standout all night, played a pivotal role in releasing Wright into open space, making substantial yardage. Staying upright in the red zone, with support close at hand, Critchley-Peddle concluded her evening with a brace, a fitting end to an enthralling match.
In the end, Havant claimed the victory, but the Royal Navy Women's Development XV's performance was nothing short of remarkable, showcasing the spirit and talent that will undoubtedly grow awareness and expand the player base. The crowd at Havant Rugby Club was treated to a night of compelling rugby, and both teams can be proud of their efforts on this memorable evening.
Rosie Staples said, "I am absolutely buzzing about how the new girls played. They've taken on absolutely everything. They played really well, and they should hold their heads high. This is a great platform to keep building on. We are going to learn from the mistakes we made which was probably on the more senior players. We are going to take this forward."
Women's Development XV:R Marley*, M Edson, L Honeybell; A-M McIntyre, H Addison-Prout; F Moore*, O Critchley-Peddle, R Staples (C); R Newton, C Render*, H Millar*, S McLaughlin (VC), D Lumsden, C Wright*, S Hill*.
Replacements: C Fredrickson, K Sutherland*, E Thorpe*.
* Denotes new members of the Navy Rugby family.
Words by J Campbell-Baldwin; Images by K Woodland.