Last Sunday saw Buckingham Swans play host to Shelford Ladies on a blustery but dry day.
With Shelford only a couple of league places above bottom placed Swans, this was seen as a must win game in the home side's quest to avoid relegation.
As has been the case on several occasions this season the Swans started slowly and the Cambridgeshire side, playing with a strong wind at their backs, took full advantage of both these factors enjoying the lion’s share of possession in the opening exchanges. 15 minutes in and this possession was turned into points for the away side as good hands saw the ball fed out to the Shelford left winger whose strong run and deft step saw her over the line to open the scoring in the left hand corner. Although the tricky conversion attempt was missed Shelford were good value for their 5-0 lead at this stage.
It appeared that the opposition's score was just the wake-up call Buckingham needed as their game noticeably improved and with this brought more possession and territory than had gone before. The forwards started to settle into their own game of powerful driving giving the platform for the backs to move the ball about and trouble the Shelford defence. After a couple of scoring attempts were thwarted just short of the visitor's try line Shelford turned the ball over but their attempt at a clearance kick was collected on the full by the ever threatening Swans full-back Holly Malins. She went on a strong run before releasing the ball to right winger Nat Asaro, who, on meeting contact, managed to offload back to Malins who cut back in to run against the grain of the tracking away side's defence to score under the posts. The extras were duly added by the try scorer to give the home side a lead of 7-5, which they comfortably held on to for the remainder of the half.
The Swans were quick off the mark following the start of the second half and after a couple of phases Malins received the ball on Shelford’s 10 metre line. Her pace took her around the outside of the Shelford back line and enabled her to dot down under the posts, which she again successfully converted to double the Swans score.
After such a bright start to the second half and with the strong wind now behind them it was a little surprising that Swans found themselves on the back foot for the next 20 minutes. A combination of a failure to utilise the wind the clear the danger, and some ill discipline giving a succession of penalties to the Cambridgeshire outfit saw the home side penned in their own 22 for an extended period of time. What was encouraging however was the magnificent defence, in particular many “body on the line” tackles most notably from Chantal Trigg and player of the match, Captain Sophie Lepper once again leading by example, meant that the Buckingham try line was not to be breached.
Having appeared to have weathered the Shelford storm, the Swans came back the stronger side in the dying minutes of the match and with the away side needing to score twice the home side were relatively comfortable in easing to victory. Indeed they were unlucky not to increase upon their tally further when in the final play of the game a charging run by centre Katie Clark saw her taken down just a yard short of the try-line, and with the home side’s full back on hand to dive over the line, only some last ditch defending kept the final score at 14-5 as a member of the opposition managed to get hands under the ball preventing Malins from completing her hat-trick.
The Swans buoyed by this victory will hope to pick up where they left off on Sunday in two weeks time when they host Bridgnorth in the first of two meetings between the clubs next month.