Another win for the ladies
Ladies are on a roll with another win
Almost a year ago, Bournville Ladies travelled to their first away game at Telford. It’s fair to say the atmosphere was one of gibbering nervousness, and the chatter dwelt far too much on comparative bowel and bladder movements. It turned out to be our first ever win and a catapult to confidence that stood us in good stead for the season.
This season is a bit different. After our victory over Wolverhampton last season, we are suddenly one of the teams to watch, and a full year of rugby playing experience means Bournville Ladies are actually now quite a strong rugby team. It’s just a pity we haven’t quite grasped the concept of going back 10 yards for penalties.
So our first away game of the 17-18 season would present very different challenges to the corresponding fixture of last year, the first of which was the pitch. Though Charlie offered to ‘get his goats on it’ (no one is sure quite what this could mean), nothing could change the fact that we appeared to be playing in a pleasant, wild meadow, rather than a rugby pitch. We were in serious danger of losing some of our shorter players in the long grass.
Knowing we had to start quickly to put our mark on the game. Luckily, we have the players to do that. Strong early carries from Alison, Sheri and Hannah got the phases moving in our half. We soon shipped the ball wide to Allie, who ate up the yards from our own 22 to speed in under the posts. Better yet, we actually converted it. That’s practically cheating.
Solid build up from receiving the ball again looked like we might go wide and add further points, but an injury stoppage halted the points train before it could escape the station. Michelle stepped off the pitch for a well-deserved rest, and Allie stepped in to 10. The break in play disrupted our start, and Telford soon got ball in hand. Good strength and some fairly iffy tackling looked like we would be on level scores. The opposition spotted our isolated winger. If anyone has seen what a small amount of potassium can do in a large bucket of water might be able to speculate on what happened next. One might suspect the opposition runner thought ‘she looks rather small’. Their next thought would have been ‘ow’, as Chloe nearly snapped her in half.
We cleared the ball but ill-discipline at bad moments very nearly cost us again, a brilliant last gasp tackle from Allie hauling down their marauding attacker meters from our line. The ball went wide and Sophie, clearly taking inspiration from her fellow debutant Chloe, pulled out a brilliant tackle to hold back another wave.
We finally got the ball back from an excellent kick and chase by Gemma. Sheri did what Sheri does, breaking the line and making yards. Hannah followed, a lovely pick and go rounded off with a swift pop to Chloe, who accelerated away to add further points.
The value of momentum in a match was displayed in all its glory when Sophie picked up from the bouncing restart and took it in to contact. We soon managed to let it spill loose again from our ruck. But A-HA, here comes Emily recovering it immediately, Sheri cleared the ruck out and we moved it wide. Chloe shot down the line, stepped inside and placed it under the posts. Sophie bagged her second conversion. Unheard of.
Telford recovered the ball not long after the restart, and a series of poor discipline errors at penalties allowed them simple yards. They soon got the ball to one of their crash ballers and, though we will feel we should have prevented it, Telford had their first points of the half. Half time, 19-5 to Bournville.
The second half started in chaotic fashion, with frequent turnovers on both sides and general disarray on the pitch. Eventually, Emma T got ball in hand and crashed through a few tackles. When we talk about carrying, we usually only mean the ball. Presumably because she likes the challenge, Emma likes to carry a few opposition as well. From the ruck, Gemma nipped in behind, slipped the standard five tackles and somehow got the ball under the posts. The conversion drifted agonisingly wide.
Like the proverbial London buses, a second soon arrived. Unlike the said buses, traffic wasn’t an issue for first Emily, then Hannah, and finally Michelle all craving that white line fever. Luckily we have Naomi on hand in this situation to seemingly hit every ruck and protect the ball. Michelle stepped two players, saw the line, ready to score but no – held up meters away. The ball spilled out and everyone watched to see if it would do something by itself; Sheri came to the conclusion it wouldn’t, picked up and stepped over for one of the simplest tries you will see. A third conversion followed, along with a call to the Pope to ask how we ratify miracles.
We were in prime attack mode now, and Cat swept up the ball from kick off and made great yards. Emily followed again, Michelle got closer (one day, one day), and Sophie got to within meters of the line on debut. Hannah went, some leftover speed and step from the last fixture allowed her to fix the defender and offload to Allie, who scores from that distance every time.
Telford now had the opportunity to attack our line, largely untroubled up to this point. A combination of good recycling and straight running increased the pressure on us in defence. Helen got busy attacking the rucks and making vital tackles. Emma W and Emma T set up a fantastic defensive maul to drill Telford back again. Allie managed to rip it back to our side and Emma W drove forward. We tried clearing our lines and eventually drove Telford out for a line out. Despite Helen’s arrow straight throw, we lost the lineout and Telford squeezed over to add another try.
But we had the confidence of a clear lead and started to apply our brains a bit more to the knotty problem of winning a game that we had controlled. Some brilliant phase play, including solid yards by Sophie and Sheri, brought us into the Telford 22. Emily, making a bid to come and join the lovely backs, drifted wide, shrugged three tackles and dived over the line to score her first Bournville try in the corner.
Telford had one final chance to attack our line. They got close. But a superb driving maul in defence moved the attack back 10m, and the ball went loose. We recovered it and attacked with a lovely, swift attacking move, the champagne highlight of which was a basketball-style pass from Helen usually seen in 7s rugby. If it had gone wrong of course, we coaches would have been miffed. As it happens, it was executed to perfection, and Chloe caught and accelerated in for a fantastic hat-trick on debut. Sophie converted again, so we cancelled our call to the Pope. Four in one match is practically witchcraft.
Final score Bournville 48-10 Telford. A lot to be praised in our attacking intent, but also a few issues with our discipline and decision making that tinged an otherwise pleasing performance. The scoreline suggests we have a lot to look forward to this season. Commendation went, unusually, not to a back and forward of the match, but instead to our debutants Chloe and Sophie. Let’s hope every game is made to look this simple.