Our women, who had already won National Challenge Division 1 (South West) secured promotion to the Championship with a convincing play-off win against London Welsh, the winners of National Challenge Division 1 (South East).
London Welsh were a physical side with a large pack which made things difficult for us. The game started fairly evenly and after several attacking exchanges we took the initiative. A set piece backs move was executed to put Kiera Paul-Jones through and she was brought down just short of the line. The ball was recycled and Chloe Barrett was on hand to score. She converted her own try to give us a 7-0 lead.
We were then put under intense pressure from a forward dominant London Welsh side who punched holes effectively around the break down. A penalty try was awarded for an infringement at the scrum to level the scores and quickly afterwards a lapse in concentration allowed Welsh to score again out wide, but the conversion was missed. Our scrum half Scrum half Rosie Swan was then yellow carded for an infringement at a penalty and we were down to 14 players and under immense pressure. This woke us up and we scored 14 unanswered points during the sin bin period. Paige Darvill-White ran in both try’s and Chloe Barrett added two more conversions to take a 21-12 lead.
Welsh again came back and added a score, but we had the final say before half time when Barrett showed good pace to go over for her second try of the afternoon which she again converted to give us a 28-17 half time lead.
During the second half we ground out some periods of continued pressure to keep Welsh out. Another good break from Kiera Paul-Jones and some good support play from Cesca McAlinney resulted in another 7 points with Barrett again converting. McAlinney was again involved in the next score executing a two on one perfectly to release Anna Stephenson for a try. Barrett added the conversion and we were in control of the game at 42-17. But Welsh came back strongly again and added two scores of their own to reduce the deficit to 42-27 with 10 minutes still to play. We were then able to break away from their own half and after several phases Anna Stephenson scored to seal the win.
After the game coach Henry Benson said: ‘I was immensely proud of our performance today. We showed some real grit and determination to keep the opposition out and we played some fantastic attacking rugby. All credit to London Welsh who were a quality side and caused us some real problems at times. The girls really deserve this after a great season and a huge amount of commitment and effort.’
Updated 17:00 - 20 May 2018 by Steve Benson