Three-peat for hero Harvey
A second successive hat-trick from No.8 Courtney Harvey secured Elthamians' ninth successive league win on Sunday at College Meadow.
Old Elthamians 27 Battersea Ironsides 7
No.8 Courtney Harvey helped herself to a hat-trick of tries for the second successive match as Elthamians recorded another bonus point win.
OEs made three changes to the starting line-up for this top-of-the-table clash against second placed Battersea. In the forwards, prop Caz Olwa returned to replace Vicky Black, and Charley Mitten took over in the second row from Sophie Merryweather who reverted to the bench. In the backs, Csilla Feher came in at fly-half with Clair Melville-Brown shifting to the wing.
The home side started at a frantic pace, working the ball through 10 phases to put Battersea under immense pressure. But a number of early chances went begging as they failed to turn the pressure into points.
Early scrums would highlight a significant advantage for OEs as the front row of Olwa, Bex Goodwin and Miri Ravulo obliterated their Battersea counterparts. But the visitors defended bravely and it wasn't until the 25th minute after a period of sustained pressure that Fijian prop Ravulo managed to batter her way over out wide for her first OEs try.
Against the run of play Battersea took the lead, however, when their fly-half made a midfield break and managed to make it into the OEs 22 where a couple of phases later they were over under the posts. This would prove to be Battersea's only visit into the OEs 22 for the remainder of the game.
From the restart OEs carried on where they left off - setting up camp in the Battersea 22. From a driven lineout five metres out, Harvey touched down for her first score of the afternoon to give OEs a 10-7 half-time lead.
With the wind and slope in their favour in the second half and a dominant set piece, OEs soaked up some early Battersea possession then started to push the ball deep into Battersea territory.
Despite the pressure Battersea held out for over 10 minutes until a wide ball found Melville-Brown on the wing who played the ball back inside to prop Olwa (pictured) who showed an impressive turn of pace to charge in from the 22.
Despite monopolising territory and possession, it wasn't until the final 10 minutes that OEs managed to wrap up the bonus point. Fittingly, both tries came from the set piece. A driving maul was once again set from a lineout and driven over the line for Harvey's second.
Then, with time running out OEs made their way back to the Battersea 22 forcing them to touch down in-goal. Following a series of scrums and the match official running out of patience, Battersea were given a final chance to hold the scrum together. OEs shoved them back over the line for Harvey to claim her second hat-trick in two games.
Forward of the match went to Fijian prop Miri Ravulo whose mix of strong carries in heavy traffic and clean line breaks had Battersea on the back foot all day. Backs’ award went to centre Helen Harris who once again was a real handful going forward whilst staying composed in defence.
Old Elthamians: Chiu, Melville-Brown, John, Harris, Birchall, Feher, Dootson, Ravulo, Goodwin, Olwa, Benbow, Mitten, Penfold, Taylor, Harvey. Subs: Merryweather, Branch, Walkin, French, Shaw, Cormack.