U18 Girls in National Cup Final !
With 2 convincing wins in the semi-finals, Pulborough U18 girls represent club and county in the national cup final in 2 weeks time
Another long range trip this time took the U18 girls to Royal Wootten Bassett RFC (where the heck is that I hear you say? Look west I respond, and stop before you hit Bristol).
The fixture was the national semi-final, which in the girls game means a tricky three way fixture against the Area champions of the south west and south (Pulborough being the Area 3, south east champs).
Pulborough looked slick in their black kit, and purred through the first game versus a bold Old Albanians team. Absorbing some early pressure, digging out of their own 22, the Girls in Black took control and started to play the sort of rugby that the enthusiastic following support is getting used to watching.
Managing the phases in a calculated manner, it was only a matter of time before the Borough girls threatened the OAs try line, with ball distributed swiftly by Flo at 9, down a back line that finished with Grace taking the first of two tries in game 1.
While never running away with it, and on occasion visiting our own 22 for a look, the game never looked threatened. This was a day that saw the girls play with a self-belief and team spirit that was beyond the need for shouty-coaching.
Yes there were some moments of individual sparkle, but this was overwhelmingly a team performance; the quality showing throughout.
Some hard running lines from Jade, work around the loose from Ella and graft over the ball from Zoo, were just some of the key forward elements that earned Borough the hards yards and secure ball for the backs to play from.
Despite greasy conditions, the backs played with composure and flair. Lauren S at 13 offered an edge that cut holes in the OA's defence. Cap'n Carnforth was her dependable self, getting beyond the gain line at every opportunity, while Aliya put some real strength on the left wing that would see her take two tries on the day.
With team tries finished by Grace (2), Louisa, Lauren S, Sarah and Aliya, the first game was well won 30 - 7 in the 40 minutes, earning the girls a bonus point for 5 tries should it have been required.
The second game saw the Borough girls play the current national champions Winscombe. A difficult opposition and a difficult challenge; to have to wait almost an hour while the the 2nd game is played, and then come on amid cold driving rain and play a team that is in the match mind-set, Winscombe having finished off OAs 22-0.
With the pressure racked up with the girls knowing this was their deciding moment, they could be excused for a slightly ragged start against a strong and determined opponent.
The game was evenly balanced, with the strength of the Winscombe forwards and their urgency at the breakdown destabilising the Pulborough game.
But the Borough girls didn't panic, and as the nerves settled the composure returned, and the girls from Sussex started to play at the right end of the pitch, going through more measured phases.
Beating Winscombe was always going to be about getting the ball wide, and it was here that Pulborough finally got their returns.
Fishy was orchestrating from 10, using her vocal chords like we've never herd them before, and this supported some fine inter-play from the backs.
Missed passes, loops and dummy runs - the kit bag was being emptied in an attempt to make some space. Lauren S made the best use of this, with some pace and footwork that saw her take two tries.
Fishy took her own hard-graft try as a reward for some great support work, while Aliya took another on the wing, finishing off a composed back line move that showed the difference between the two sides.
And so match two finished with a 20 - 0 win, with the Pulborough try line in tact despite the best attention of the national champs.
And so the mighty Pulbrough book their space at the national cup final on 29th April, to be played versus Newark on the same fixture as the Women's Premiership final.
A superb effort from the Borough girls, making parents and coaches proud for the way they approached the game; focused, determined, and together as a team.
Squad (tries): Niamh, Cat, Ellie-Mae, Jade, Louisa (1), Ella, Zoo, Katya, Emily, Flo, Lauren F (1), Sarah (1), Lauren S (3), Grace (2), Aliya (2), Chloe, Imogen, Carla, Lottie, Rachel, Amy, Lucy