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By Arlene Moxon
11 February
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Boston Ladies struck gold in their performance against title certainties and league leaders Lincoln Ladies in a game from which everyone who watched, including the referee, said afterwards was the best advertisement for women’s rugby they had seen this season, as both teams gave no quarter in frightful conditions.
Before kick-off the large crowd of supporters gathered in front of the Boston RFC club house, as the teams stood together for a minute’s applause in memory of Steve Burns, a former Lincoln Ladies coach who sadly passed away last year, which was observed fantastically by both sets of supporters.
Traditionally these derby games very quickly develop into very physical encounters, and Sunday was no exception, Boston Ladies kicking off into the wind (more artic blast really) started powerfully; a series of shuddering tackles allowed them to regain possession; forward surges linked well with the back line, gained Boston territory. After 5 minutes the forwards had recycled the ball quickly after a succession of pick and go short bursts from the pack, Charlotte Daubney (sponsored by Dexter & Sharpe Accountants) (Boston’s joint players player winner) quickly sent the ball down the back line to fly half and captain Hannah Booth (sponsored by Adrian Hart). Booth then made 5 metres, before offloading to the returning Sophie Lorenz. From nowhere Lincoln centre Jenna Brierton capitalised on her advanced positioning and latched on to an interception opportunity, powering from the halfway line to score under the posts, with Emily Nelson adding the conversion (0-7).
From the restart Boston again surged forward with power in defence, the centre partnership of Sophie Lorenz (Boston’s back of the match) and Lycia Elston (sponsored by Clarke Construction) hugely effective operating as a unit and making dominant tackle after dominant tackle nullifying the potent Lincoln centre partnership. The back row unit of Cat Neville, Charlie Ingram- Janetta (sponsored by P&N Pest Control) and Syd Elston (sponsored by Exhilian Studios) again seemed omnipresent on the park, appearing to pop up ‘everywhere at once’ in their defencive efforts. However, it was Boston’s inability to gather a kick over the lines from Lincoln, that resulted in Lincoln’s second try on 18 minutes. The high ball moved so much in near gale force conditions, that when it landed a good 20 meters further into Boston’s half than expected, it left both wingers and full back, frantically chasing back to secure the ball. Again, in another gut-wrenching twist of fate, (and the unpredictable nature of the oval ball) the ball seemed to bounce directly into the arms of the onrushing speedster and Lincoln Full back, Harriet Fluck. Fluck needed no further invitation and accelerating wide, chased all the way by Boston Full Back Sherrie Christian (sponsored by Vicky Morris) and winger Katie Berriman, who a delivered fine individual performance on the day, finished the move superbly with a score in the corner. (0-12)
Boston Ladies are a tough, resilient bunch, but after the possession and territory they had worked tirelessly to achieve, to be down by 12 after such a short space of time, was really going to test the mettle of this new formed squad of ladies.
From the restart, Lincoln again surged forward in attack, and the superb Boston back row unit again pounced into defencive action. Unfortunately, a stray knee made significant contact with blind side flanker Charlie Ingram-Janetta’s head as she went low into a tackle on a rampaging Lincoln forward, and she was knocked unconscious.
Play stopped immediately to allow both teams’ physiotherapists and medical teams to deal with the incident. With the decision made that the injury needed further attention, waiting for the ambulance, and while Boston’s medical staff were left supporting Charlie, Lincoln’s staff kindly offered medical support to both teams after moving to an adjacent pitch.
As the game recommenced, with returning Jordan Mindham-Wright on for the injured Charlie at blind side, the Boston coaching staff could be heard urging their girls to ‘Get one score against the wind’ obviously hoping that a quick score would build confidence going into the second period with wind advantage. The game restarted, with the two sides continuing in the same highly combative and intensely physical manner and both defences stretched.
It was Boston who seemed then to benefit from the enforced break in play. Powerful set piece work, both in the scrum and line out built a solid platform from which the ladies could apply wave after wave of pressure onto the Lincoln defence. The tight five unit of Arlene Moxon (sponsored by JPMT) (Boston’s joint players player winner), Kyra Balderstone (sponsored by Little Stage), Lucy Buckberry (sponsored by Beesons of Boston), Tash Champion (Boston’s forward of the match) and Max Heeley (sponsored by Mr James Maths Tuition) (Boston player of the match voted by Lincoln Ladies) operated superbly all afternoon as they have for the previous 3 games and are continuing to mature into real force to be reckoned with. Buckberry, Champion and Heeley could knock down tall buildings with their ‘go forward’ running, whilst Moxon and Balderstone transmit their sheer power into the tackle, making supporters shudder as they deliver huge hit after huge hit in defence, pouncing on any loose play from the opposition.
Suddenly on the 30-minute mark, Boston sensed they had taken the initiative and redoubled their efforts. Sherrie Christian, playing out of position at full back due to injury to Sarah Simpson and with Tiana Woollaston attending NLD selection trials, powered forward with the ball only to be stopped by the determined Lincoln defence. Quick recycling by the forwards allowed Daubney to flick the ball to Booth who had powered round to a wide blind side. Booth lit the afterburners and beat two defenders to open Boston’s account with a score wide out, the ever-present Freya O’Shea offering support from the wing throughout the move. Unable to convert the kick due mainly to the conditions the half ended 5-12.
The sense that the game dynamic had changed became more prevalent as the second half commenced, with Boston making no changes at half time. The intensity of the Boston pack seemed to crank up a notch, and they become more precise all over the park, erasing the alarming number of successional penalties they had given away in the first period. Line outs and scrummages, which had been solid throughout the first period became noticeably dominant in the second half. In open play everyone seemed to be more aware and raised their individual performance to match the occasion, securing their own ball quickly, whilst seemingly increasing the pressure on Lincoln Ladies. A succession of penalties, this time in favour of Boston, put the Ladies 10 metres out. From the resultant line out, the imperious Kyra Balderstone rose in the line to tap a beautifully weighted pass down to Daubney, who shipped effortlessly to the onrushing Sophie Lorenz, the Saracens Women Loanee then powering through several players only to be deemed ‘held up’ over the line.
The first of the replacements appeared, with Jody Stobart on for O’Shea who moved to fullback, Sherrie Christian given a break from constant battle over the previous weeks, and Lillijana Smith on for Katie Berriman. The match restarted with a Lincoln drop kick from under their posts, only to be caught by Booth who again linked play to Lorenz and Lycia Elston who ‘ploughed the road’ only to be stopped meters out. Phase after phase pounded the Lincoln defence, with Jordan Mindham-Wright at the centre of the action; her aggressive go forward evident in spades, her green scrum cap acting as a beacon to galvanise the Boston efforts; an impressive return to the Boston squad. However time after time Lincoln remained rock solid in the face of that sustained pressure, and it was in that cauldron of rarefied atmosphere, that the smallest of mistakes could cost either side. It was now 50 minutes, and Lincoln were adjudged to have illegally handled the ball on the ground. Up stepped Charlotte Daubney to take charge of the penalty, who then quickly tapped through the mark and passing wide to the onrushing and rampaging tight head prop Max Heeley, and from 5 out, as we have seen in previous matches the result was never in doubt. (10-12).
From the resultant restart, Boston again failed to adequately secure our own ball and Lincoln again pounced, with Harriet Fluck again the recipient of a ball she should never have been allowed to steal and making the most of the gift by powering wide and again outpacing the flailing Boston defenders, only to tackled mere2 metres out by Hannah Booth, but it was Lincolns Jade Morgan who reacted the quickest and from the pick-up she powered over the line to give Lincoln some breathing space on 55 minutes. (10-17).
This slap in the face seemed to be what Boston needed to inspire them further and in the last quarter they took the game to their opponents, time and time again powering forward only to be blunted by last ditch heroism from the Lincoln defence. Lincoln would clear lines with the boot, but Boston just would not be shaken off, they were relentless in their application of sheer pressure onto the Lincoln defenders, and it was from a sublime kick from Booth that put Boston into Lincoln’s 22 with 6 minutes to play. Lincoln won the resultant line, but did not add distance with their clearing kick, allowing a Boston line out 12 meters out. Balderstone again produced a magnificent leap and the seven secured the ball beautifully at the back of the maul with Champion, they them as a unit turned the screw and began an irresistible surge forward toward the line; the try was never in doubt. (15-17).
Final replacements came on, with Hayley Hitch making her season debut in the front row for the impressive Lucy Buckberry, maintaining the power balance in the set piece. However, Boston just could not manage from the restart in the 5 minutes remaining to gain the necessary field position to launch a final attack. The game ended as it had begun with both teams giving their all for their respective teams and their clubs, and Lincoln Ladies with their noses in front at the death.
Boston coach Shaun Turl said immediately after the match, ‘What an absolutely fantastic game of rugby we all watched, it had everything, passion, determination, power, skill and a knife edge finish. I don’t care today which side you supported, Women’s Rugby was the winner today, everyone enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining game (battle), played by two committed squads with the passion and pride they feel for the shirts they wear and the clubs they represent.
We are a close rugby community in Lincolnshire and this Lincoln side are an absolute joy to play against. They thoroughly deserve to be where they are in the league, they have truly been the best team in the league this year and we wish them well for the rest of the season. I have to say that the last 20 minutes seemed to last seconds from our perspective, but for George and Brian (Lincoln coaches) I bet it seemed an age!!
The Boston Ladies squad today have taken another great leap forward on our route forward and have continued the development and improvement we have seen week on week this season. They (Lincoln) inflicted a 37-0 defeat on this group in November, so to turn that around and nearly take the game from an unbeaten table topping side is a testament to the squad’s efforts and commitment to improvement both as individuals but also as a squad and a as club. This group of amazing ladies would literally give their absolute all for each other.
I also want to acknowledge my fellow coaches here at Boston. Ant Buckberry, Steph Beard and Tom Balderstone have given their 100% commitment, as have the girls, to training this season; each of them bring something unique to training, keeping it vibrant and fun, they are in a huge part responsible for the great strides we have made together as a group (both Ladies and Girls Sections here at BRFC) since the start of this season. I know that, like myself, we all feel privileged to be coaching these amazing women and girls; and are inspired by them week in week out.’
Captain Hannah Booth added, ‘What a performance, every single player today gave everything for the cause and to take Lincoln that close just shows how far we have come as a group this season. We want to offer our congratulations to Lincoln and wish them well for the season, they deserve the promotion they are aiming for, they are without doubt the best team in the league.’ Of her teammates she said, ‘I just love them all, we are a close, close family and would do anything for each other’.
Thankfully injured player, Charlie Ingram-Janetta, was later discharged from hospital, although will remain out of action for some weeks as she completes her concussion recovery process and Graduated Return to Play. These are the mandatory protocols put in place by the RFU to ensure players return to action in a controlled and safe manner after a concussion injury.
Boston RFC would like to thank Lincoln’s on field Medical Staff, both with their actions in tending Charlie Ingram-Janetta, but also for their immediate offer to support both teams for the remainder of the game.
The squad would also like to congratulate Tiana Woollaston, absent in today’s game, for her selection into the NLD Under 18s squad.
Boston Ladies are away at the Deeping Devils, in Market Deeping on Sunday 20th February, Kick off at 1400.

Written by Shaun Turl, Boston Ladies' Coach

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