Darts win a cracker with nail biting finish
Darts entertained Rochford/Thurrock in a friendly fixture and it turned out to be a cracking match of rugby with both teams going full out for 70 minutes. The visitors started really well keeping control of the ball and using their big runners to great effect with great rucking and offloading which kept the Darts girls on their toes and having to put in big tackles throughout the team. Faith and Ramat were both tackling like demons as was Ewa but the tide was relentless and it was not long before Rochford scored the first try. Darts tried to get back into the match but the visitors were very well organised and strong and were making it very difficult for Darts to get hold and keep the ball and again good play saw them extend their lead with another well worked try. Darts had made many changes in this friendly match trying to give all of our large squad game time and our front of Pelumi, Poppy and Rebecca all playing their first game of thee season were getting into the match and the set piece was starting to work well allowing Lilly to give our backs good ball. Anna was making some good breaks but the oppositions defence was strong and we resorted to moving the ball forward using our pack and Elizabeth, Karis and Emily were strong runners for us and skipper Lola was always in the thick of it. Unfortunately Talie had to leave the field following an injury but she had shown her continued improvement in her game. A great period of play saw the home side move deep into the Rochford half and after some great interplay before backs and forwards it was Lilly who went over for Darts first try. Evie and Isabelle were doing really well in defence keeping Rochford at bay but we were not allowed to use the ball in the wide spaces so they were not able to show all of their attacking ability. Again it was the hard direct running and good offloading that saw the visitors extend their lead but Darts soon hit back when Faith went on a powerful run and although initially tackled got up and went on to score. The visitors finished the half strongly but Darts were looking more comfortablee and getting into their stride.
Darts made wholesale changes at half time bringing on Jaz, Megan and Tierney in the front row and there was no discernable changes in the set piece and we had Georgia and Emily as well as Phoebe on in the forwards. Millie was getting a lot of ball and moving the team forward but it was the visitors who again went ahead with a trademark try. Faith again went over in another of her strong runs prior to Rochford scoring in again. The spectators were having a real treat with both sides going hammer and tong at each other. Lizzie had come on alongside Lizzie G and Melissa on the wings and Holly was back at full back.It is always difficult for a team to gel when making so many changes but all the girls were coping brilliantly and really working for each other. Lizzie was leading from the from the front with her relentless tackling which was starting to have an effect on the visitors who were now starting to go backwards and sideways and when they put together a great move in the backs it was Lizzie who used her pace and power to go over to close the gap to 32 -22 with all to play for with 10 minutes to play. Our two newcomers Nadia and Rhea both came on for their first rugby matches and neither showed any signs of nerves and were involved from the start looking like they had been playing for some time. This was a proper rugby match with skills being shown all over the pitch and although there were mistakes being made this was more down to the tenacity of both sides when in defence putting immense pressure on the attacking team Darts forced play into the Rochford 22 and when Darts got the shove on against the visitors scrum the ball went loose and it was Lilly who pounced and raced over from 10 metres. It was all or nothing now for Darts as the clock was ticking down and straight from the kick off darts took the ball back at Rochford and when Ewa fed Lizzie at pace there was a small gap which was big enough for our strong running centre to burst through two tacklers and then outpace the visiting full back to score the try to level the scores. Ewa stepped up to take the conversion and when the ball went over it was elation for the darts team to take the match by the narrowest of margins.
There was a lot of competition for the player of the match award with at least 6 or 7 in contention but for her all round handling of the game at fly half it was awarded to Ewa.
A fantastic match against a great opposition who were as tough a team as we will face this season and great credit goes to everyone of our squad who put everything into this game showing great resolve and character. It was a tough loss for Rochford who deserved to get something out of the match and will certainly be looking to reverse the result in the return fixture.