Last Sunday saw Buckingham play host to Deeping Devils, unfortunately though the home advantage they were hoping for was sadly lost as unusually high rainfall this winter had left the pitches at Floyds Field unplayable. The plus was that the game was even able to take place at all, thanks to Banbury RFC coming to the rescue and enabling the Swans to move home temporarily and play the game there.
As thankful as the Swans were to get the game played, they would have been forgiven for wishing the opposite during the opening quarter as they lost prop Drea Lee to a suspected fractured rib inside 5 minutes and were two tries down inside 15 minutes.
Playing with a strong wind at their backs in the first half the Swans were disappointed to find themselves 10 points down so early on but they did then settle into the match and started to gain more possession, although in terms of territory the game was largely contested in the middle third of the pitch.
As the game progressed it was clear that Deeping’s strengths were in their quick midfield, whereas the Swans lay in their powerful pack. On the half hour mark this was proven as, similarly to the opening two tries, the Devils showed good hands, particularly taking into account the conditions, and a turn of pace by the inside centre allowed space to be created for their third try.
The Swans, as in previous games this season, may have gone behind but heads did not drop and with five minutes left before the break, after some excellent pick and go’s by the forwards, the Deeping defence was finally breached as hooker Jayne Webster crashed over for her first try of the season.
Within a couple of minutes a second try was almost added in similar fashion but despite good pressure only metres from the opposition try line the Deeping defence held firm until they were saved by the referee’s half time whistle, with the score at 5 – 15.
The first 20 minutes of the second half continued much as the second 20 of the first half. Buckingham continued to make inroads with the pack making some penetrating drives through the Devil’s forwards, notably through Lorna Cooke and Nicola Lepper. However on conceding possession the Deeping pack were quick to feed their backs the ball enabling them to test the Buckingham defence on frequent occasions. Only some last ditch but fine tackling by Chantal Trigg (playing in the unfamiliar role of full-back) prevented the opposition from increasing on their score. She, and other attempted tacklers could do nothing to stop Deeping adding a fourth try on the hour though when a quick tap penalty against a retreating defence saw the visitors run the ball out wide and with their extra pace manage to avoid contact to ease over the line.
Deeping may have thought this would quell the fight in the green and whites, but the Swans were not ready to lie down just yet and after several phases of controlled driving saw the Swans gain 40 metres prop Lorna Cooke was on hand to power over the line for a much deserved first try, in her debut season.
The Devils were determined to take away all five points though and ensured this was to be the case with a fifth try which sealed the bonus point win. Buckingham were still hopeful of a losing bonus but having played against the wind and a pretty hefty storm in the second half and then being reduced to 14 players in the last 10 minutes after losing their inspirational captain Sophie Lepper to injury, they just ran out of steam in the last few minutes as Deeping added a further two tries to give a slightly flattering score to the visitors.
Swans forward of the match was awarded to Nicola Lepper who stepped into the prop role admirably for 75 minutes, and likewise moving into unfamiliar territory back of the match went to full back Chantal Trigg. Mention should also be given to both Amy Jones at centre and Sarah Hollis on the wing who were making their debuts for the Swans and in the case of Hollis a first ever game.