OEs Women off the mark
OEs Women's long awaited league debut ended in an entertaining stalemate on Sunday against a strong Cuffley side.
Cuffley 17 Old Elthamians 17
Old Elthamians Women’s first ever league match ended in a hard earned draw on Sunday against a well organised Cuffley side who only lost twice all last season.
OEs started impressively pinning the home side back in their own 22 from the first whistle. A few phases later captain Vicki Benbow crashed over to register the club’s maiden league try with less than five minutes on the clock.
However, Cuffley fought their way back into the game, using their experience to slow the ball down at the breakdown which caused the game to become disjointed and messy.
OEs dominated the set piece taking a number of scrums against the head and supplying good ball from the lineout with hooker Katie Oakes finding jumpers Benbow and Beccy Penfold to good effect.
With pace on the ball, the visitors looked impressive as they made advances into the Cuffley danger zone. This time New Zealander Courtney Harvey was on hand for the final drive over the line which was converted by Benbow.
However, the home side clawed their way back into the game as the half was coming to a close. An innocuous Cuffley kick resulted in a penalty try as the chaser was adjudged to have been taken out without the ball.
OEs turned around at the interval leading 12-7, but the score before half-time had clearly lifted Cuffley and they started the second period strongly.
A number of unforced errors allowed Cuffley to enjoy a sustained period of pressure and when OEs eventually ran out of numbers, the home side went over out wide for a try to level the scores.
The score sparked Elthamians into life and they started to create gaps in the home defence with fly-half Helen Harris and centres Emily John and Andy Birchall all making incisive breaks.
Strong drives from props Bex Goodwin and Miri Ravulo put OEs in a number of good positions and it was from one of those that saw Goodwin drive over for a try - her fourth in three games so far this season – giving the visitors the lead with 20 minutes to go.
However, Cuffley were quick to capitalise on a sloppy period from Elthamians who gave away numerous penalties and failed to effectively clean up loose ball. As a result, the home side camped in the OEs 22 and patiently built through the phases until they had created a space for their third try of the afternoon to level the scores.
The remaining ten minutes were tense and scrappy as both teams looked for the win. Cuffley reclaimed the ball in their 22 and cleared to safety to claim a 17-17 draw.
Helen Harris picked up Elthamians’ back of the match for an impressive all-round performance playing out of position at fly-half, and the forwards’ award went to captain Vicki Benbow who led by example from second row throughout.
Old Elthamians: Allebone, Fox, Birchall, John, Chenery, Harris, Shaw, Black, Oakes, Goodwin, Benbow, Mitten, Harvey, Penfold, Levi.