Another fantastic performance by the Guildford Gazelles saw them beat second placed in the table New Ash Green Ladies.
Guildford had something to prove in this encounter; The previous time these two sides met this season Guildford suffered a significant loss due to having to play the whole game with only 14 players.
This time much changed, and despite it's fair to say not the best warm up on record, particularly in terms of handling; the Gazelles came out of the changing rooms fired up ready for their encounter against a very well drilled NAG side.
The Gazelles battled right from the whistle, and showed their intent when lisa tetzlaff
put in a thumping tackle on the New Ash Green second row much to the delight of the watching crowd. New Ash Green continued to attempt to breach the Gazelles defences, but the Gazelles worked hard in the rucks and mauls and allowed New Ash Green little ground.
With the ball in hand the Gazelles looked to play the phases and then work the ball wide Hannah Yirrell making a fantastic break passing a number of players, only for New Ash Green's speedy winger who had already been beaten to chase her and pull her down just short of the line.
Every contact and breakdown was proving to be a battle, as expected with NAG being second placed in the league, but the Gazelles worked hard and their defences held firm when New Ash Green attempted to break.
Centre Sarah Ealey
made another fantastic break only to be caught just short of the line, by yet again the NAG speedy 14. The phases and hard work by Guildford paid off when after being camped in the opposition 22 for some minutes Charlotte Telling
crashed through the try line defence to score her first try for the Gazelles. Lauren Macey
After the restart New Ash Green put in a clearance kick over the top of the Guildford defence which was brilliantly fielded on the full by fullback Kirsty Fox
who countered taking the ball up and setting up the next phase.
New Ash Green continued to put pressure on the Guildford defence, but the defences proved to be being too organised for NAG and were holding firm. New Ash Green were though causing difficulties in the scrum and every scrum was proving difficult for both sides to hold their own ball.
Hannah Yirrell breached the New Ash Green defences, but was once again thwarted by the outstanding New Ash Green wingers cover defence. This time being held up over the line. From the resultant scrum Lisa McNamara picked from the base and made a dash for the line, only to somehow have the ball knocked from her grasp inches from the line. New Ash Green were not off the hook though and after a number of phases were still camped on their line, the Guildford defence once again showing its organisation. New Ash Green attempted to clear their lines, but a miscued kick was fielded by Gazelles winger Sarah Jason
who dived for the corner but was knocked into touch by two New Ash Green defenders.
The second half continued to be an in the trenches affair with New Ash Green attempting to break down the Guildford defence and Guildford resisting and in turn trying to break through New Ash Green. Once again there were many scrums with both sides making it extremely difficult for their opposition to get clean ball from the scrum. The lineouts were proving to be promising for Guildford with Lisa Mc and Erica Morisson disrupting the New Ash Green ball where possible and Tish Fournel persisting with her new role of throwing in the lineout and providing some good ball to Lisa and Erica on Guildford ball. The Gazelles also showed they have a driving lineout in their locker too, setting a nice platform and driving a few yards before releasing the ball for scrum half Jo Stoner
to feed the backs. The backs failed to break the defences initially, but when support arrived the Gazelles continued the phases to drive for the line pushing the New Ash Green defence back phase after phase, with eventually Sarah Ealey
coming on to a nice short ball in traffic and busting through to score under the posts. Yet again Lauren Macey
converted to take Guildford to a 14-0 lead.
Sustained pressure by New Ash Green resulted in Guildford having to defend much in their own half and eventually after a number of phases on the Guildford line the defence was finally breached by New Ash Green and a try was scored. There was some debate about the resultant conversion, but this was given, taking the score to 14-7.
Captain Lizzie Carr rallied the troops and the Gazelles came out firing again taking the game back to New Ash Green and showing they were not intending to let the defence be broken again. The back row of Spuddy Pearce, lisa tetzlaff
and Lisa McNamara worked tirelessly in defence at the rucks and mauls and really made a nuisance of themselves. Bex Salmon had been causing problems when making charges at the NAG defence and once again bustled past the first defender and offloaded neatly to Sarah Ealey
outside her. The ball going out to Kate Jenkins
on the wing only for her to get put in to touch on the 22.
again showed some skill under the high ball at her new fullback position, taking the ball on the run just inside her own half and countering to put further pressure on New Ash Green. New Ash Green eventually turning the ball over, but a knock on then giving a scrum to Guildford. From the scrum the ball went down the back line with some nice hands and Kirsty joining the line from fullback. A nasty tackle then resulted in the New Ash Green player receiving a red card and a Guildford player receiving a yellow for retaliation.
stepped up to hooker and started causing a nuisance for New Ash Green at the scrum as well as the normal disruption she was causing in the breakdown. After the sin bin had elapsed Charlotte Telling
left the field to be replaced by Bex Armstrong
, back in the Gazelles fold after a number of years away from the game. The score remained 14-7 until the final whistle, with the celebrations from the Gazelles on the final whistle showing how much it meant to them to put in such a good performance against one of the top sides in the league and deservedly come out on top. All the Gazelles played fantastically well and the collapse of bodies on the field showed they had put their all in to continue their promising season run in
Forward of the Match went to Tish Fournel for her continued persistence with her new lineout duties, despite things not always going her way.
Back of the Match and Player's Player of the day went to Kirsty Fox
for her great performance at fullback.
Sunday 25th sees the Gazelles take on Ashford who are one place above them in the league.