NAVY WOMEN START NEW YEAR IN WINNING FORM
Determined to start the new decade on a successful note, the Royal Navy Women registered a good win against a physically imposing Portsmouth side at home on Wednesday night. There were a number of new faces in the Navy line up and Julianna Straker (BRNC), playing at no. 10, captained the team for the first time. Navy debutantes included Chelsea Stokes and Adele Bath (HMS Daring).
From the kicked off the RN established good early possession and made steady progress towards the try-line. The Portsmouth defence withstood a number of well organised attacks and was particularly impressive in the breakdown, turning over Navy ball on a number of occasions. However, the persistent attacking style of the RN play soon wore down the defence. After a number of phases of play, Centre Kirsty Forward (SK IPT) produced a textbook dummy move to run through 3 defenders, scoring between the posts. Kicking duties fell to Full Back Sam Alderson (HMS Cornwall), who successfully converted the try. Portsmouth fielded a strong pack but was unable to convert the forwards' possession into points. Half time score RNRU(W) 7 - Portsmouth 0.
The second half began with a confident Captain (Straker) using her experience to settle her side and set up some incisive moves for the Navy backs. Straker showed good pace and flair to create opportunities, continually testing the Portsmouth defence and scoring two runaway tries in quick succession.
Portsmouth remained strong in the second half, despite the score line, eager to pounce on any Navy error. Such persistence was rewarded when a fumbled loose ball close to the try-line bounced in favour of Portsmouth, enabling them to score a well-deserved try (unconverted). With 15 minutes of the game remaining, the RN was temporarily down to 14 players due to a back row injury; however, the women remained focused on the task and spent much of that time camped in the Portsmouth half. Straker scored a further two tries, the final one as a result of an interception in the Navy's 22, running the length of the pitch to score between the posts. Alderson converted all but one of the tries, to bring the final score to RNRU(W) 33 - Portsmouth 5.
Unexpectedly returning to RN rugby after a "rest" of 2 seasons was Lt Paula Bennett-Smith (COMUKCSG); initially taking charge of the warm up and pre-match preps, she came on as a blood replacement for LMA Jade Whitby in the final five minutes of the first half, and then appeared in the second half as an injury replacement for LAET Pam Williams.
Special thanks must go to CPO Si Burns (FOST) who took over coaching duties at short notice, and to Portsmouth Head Coach CPO Sid Street (HMS Victory), who agreed this fixture when Paignton withdrew.
Scores: RN - Tries: Forward (1); Straker (4). Conv: Alderson (4)
RNRU(W) Squad: AB Sarah Simms (HMS Ark Royal); LAET Pam Williams (215 Flt, 815 NAS); LETWE Emily Atkins (HMS Montrose); AB Sophie Hinds (HMS Cornwall); LMA Jade Whitby (HMS Gannet); ETWE Sarah Mitchell (HMS Ocean); SLT Becky Chapman ( BRNC Dartmouth); POWEA Sophy Roseamon ( MWS Collingwood); LOGS Lauren Morton (HMS St Albans); OC Julianna Straker (C) (BRNC); AB Chelsea Stokes (HMS Daring); LOGS Fiesha Greene (HMS Ark Royal); SLT Helen Leach (849 NAS); AB Adele Bath (HMS Daring); AB Sam Alderson (HMS Cornwall). Replacements: Lt Kirsty Forward (SK IPT); Lt Paula Bennett-Smith (COMUKCSG).
Next fixture: v Oakmedians, 17th February.