After the loss against Hackney in the previous league game, Streatham-Croydon ladies had a point to make about their position in the league. Barnes came into the game sitting at the top of the league table after two bonus point wins, including a 73-0 victory against Millwall the previous week. Bolstered by their victory in the development game last weekend Streatham coach Nic Verdino had some difficult selections on his hands, and with Captain Paige Abbs resting on the bench with an ankle injury, new player Ceri Buck was brought into the second row for her first league start.
For the first quarter, Streatham struggled to get their hands on the ball. Barnes had a very clinical approach playing Route 1 rugby, the ladies managed to force a few errors but were unable to keep the ball in hand and take advantage of these. Streatham very much rose to the challenge of defence, bringing the defensive line up well and resisting the onslaught. Big tackles by Amy (Judo) Ellis-Thompson and Isobel Sant ensured that there was no way through the middle and great line speed and communications from Charlie Uden on the wing kept the backs contained. With Barnes resorting to the boot they were able to find some space down the pitch, and their early scrums had the advantage over a new Streatham front row combination. The Streats defence was under pressure and some slick hands found an overlap on the outside, and Barnes were able to go over in the corner.
With a half time score of 5-0 SCRFC needed to keep hold of the ball, and with the long anticipated centre pairing of Phili May and Jenny Frost the backs began to see the space opening up. An excellent break by Jenny was matched only by a fantastic cover tackle by the Barnes fullback, and the offload to fly half Millie Ross didn’t go to hand. However, continued attacking pressure forced the penalty which was put into the corner Henry Slade style by full back Ana O’Connor. Mel Laidlaw-Anderson peeled from the back of Streatham’s well-rehearsed maul to finally go over for Streats first points of the game which were converted by Dani Reynolds.
With Streatham taking the lead for the first time, and the wind in their sails, they continued their sterling defence and spent a substantial amount of time in the opposition half. Amy Allen proved to be a huge threat around the breakdown, and after jackling the ball on the 5m line, winger Katie Corr pounced and scored her first for Streatham in the corner. Streatham continued to make great territory from O’Connor’s kicking but Barnes enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession, largely due to their great rucking work. However, Streatham’s defence kept the pressure on, forcing the fly half to resort to a kick which was charged down by flanker Helena Solomon, and regathered for her to dot down in the corner, despite the best efforts of two Barnes tacklers.
At 17-5 Streatham needed to keep a cool head and stay focussed in the game. Barnes came back with a renewed energy and spent the last ten minutes in the Streatham 22. The sterling defence seen all game continued on the try line and despite many reset scrums and a few penalties they struggled to penetrate or create space in the backs. They finally managed to get over for their second score, by which time the clock had been run down and even with the conversion Streatham came away with the win. The ladies displayed a great all round game and will be pleased with their defence and their game management, however to progress up the table from their current position they will need to take their opportunities when they come to seek out the bonus points. Next week they travel to East London RFC for their next league fixture.
Forward of the Match: Sholeve (Shay) Dunstana Davies
Back of the Match: Jenny Frost
Scorers: Mel Laidlaw-Anderson (1T), Katie Corr (1T), Helena Solomon (1T), Dani Reynolds (1C)
Updated 11:56 - 8 Oct 2018 by Millie Ross