Bletchley Ladies 33 - Barnsley Ladies 41
Barnsley win playoff to progress to Championship North
Barnsley Ladies showed their mettle in a terrific playoff match against Midlands Champions Bletchley to book their place in Women's rugby's second tier.
With both teams vying to reach Championship North for the first time you would have forgiven them for being a little apprehensive and a bit of a dour match but it was quite the opposite.
Barnsley started the brighter but Bletchley hit them on the counter after a handling error to open the scoring with a converted try. Barnsley continued to push forward but couldn't make the breakthrough. Once again Bletchley countered and after 23 minutes, with the help of a couple of mistimed tackled doubled their lead.
Barnsley overturned the ball at the resulting restart and pressed on closing the gap with a try from scrum half Jessica Roberts again with one of her sniping runs through the Bletchley defence but Alix Taylors conversion attempt went wide.
Barnsley reduced the defecit further when Leonora Salvucci scored after some great work from the Barnsley forwards to create an opening. This time Alix Taylor's Kick was good.
With just over a minute of the first half left Barnsley's Concentration lapsed and Bletchley scored 2 tries in quick succession converting one of the tries to lead at half time.
HALF TIME: Bletchley 26 - Barnsley 12
Once again Barnsley came out of the blocks quickly in the second half and closed the gap again with try from Sally Wenham again Alix Taylor's conversion attempt was wide of the upright.
It seemed that Barnsley's Achilles Heel in this game was the ability to switch off for a couple of minutes and again this allowed Bletchley to score their fifth try and with the help of the conversion extend their lead to 16 points.
Barnsley made a couple of substitutions replacing Simone Saunders and Rosie Whittaker with Lauren McKenzie and Georgia Staples, moving Hailey Swann to full back and Leonora Salvucci out to the wing.
Within 5 minutes Leonora Salvucci had reduced the defecit although Alix Taylor missed the conversion. Barnsley carried on pressurising the Bletchley defence and Jessica Roberts was making quite a nuisance of herself with quick tap penalties, Bletchley were fortunate not to have a couple of penalty tries awarded against them for deliberate fouling from the quick tap penalties but all that seemed to happen was it galvanised Barnsley into piling more pressure on.
The Barnsley pack kept driving forward finally opening up the Bletcley defence for Leonora Salvucci scored her third try in the corner again the conversion was wide of the mark.
on 74 minutes, again after a Jessica Roberts quick tap penalty was halted the referee had no option but to yellow card the Bletchley player leaving them with 14 players for the remainder of the match. The resulting restart saw Alix Taylor jink through the Bletchley defence to score and converting the kick put Barnsley a point in front for the first time in the match.
Once again from the restart Barnsley powered their way towards the Bletchley line and again the forwards opened up the defence this time for Sally Wenham to force her way over the line Alix Taylor converted the kick to put Barnsley 8 points up with a minute to go.
The match ended after Jessica Roberts Kicked the ball into touch from a scrum sparking jubilant scenes both on the pitch and also the following support in the stands.
FULL TIME: Bletchley 33 - Barnsley 41
The forward of the match went to chanelle rushforth for her work especially in the rucks and round the breakdown and the back of the match went to substitute Georgia Staples who after she came on made such a difference making some fantastic runs.