Buckingham Swans 29 Worcester II 21
1 February 2015
On a bitterly cold afternoon Buckingham Swans hosted their last league game of the season in another tightly fought contest against the team one place below them in the league.
Having won the previous encounter between the sides by just three points in November, Buckingham surely knew they were not going to be in for an easy ride last Sunday afternoon. However they were probably not expecting to find themselves 14 points down within the opening 10 minutes as Worcester’s nippy backs managed to run through the Swans defence with relative ease to cross the try line under the posts on both occasions, enabling two easy conversions for the extras.
After getting over the initial shock of finding themselves adrift so early on the home side decided to get involved and start playing to their own strengths. After some sustained pressure in the opposition 22 a scrum was awarded on the 5 yard line. Having already scored several tries this season from a similar position this was Buckingham’s opportunity to get a foothold in the game. An opportunity they were determined to take and with all eight pushing as one Worcester could do nothing to stop the force as they went backwards across their own try line enabling No. 8 Terri Denham to touch down. Bec Bray slotted the conversion to halve the points deficit.
This try ignited some self-belief into the Swans and indeed but for a slightly questionable “held up” call by the referee, Denham would have been celebrating try number two in as many minutes. This only served to strengthen the determination of the hosts though and, but for a strong defensive showing by the visitors, the Swans would have been in touching distance sooner rather than later. However after failing to turn their possession into points, Worcester recovered the ball in their own half but again took advantage of some missed tackles and gaps in the host’s defence as they increased their score to 21 with a further converted try.
With approximately five minutes left of the half Buckingham came back at the Worcester defence and this time, following several phases of good rucking, hooker Jayne Webster picked up from the back of the ruck to dive over the line to bring the Swans back into the game going into half time 21 – 12 down.
The second half picked up pretty much where the first half had left off, with the home side managing the ball well and starving the visitors of possession. This possession paid off as although a knock on in the away side’s 22 had resulted in a scrum to the opposition, Webster struck against the head to retrieve possession for the Swans. The ball was moved out to the left, and following quick ball from the ruck, full back, Holly Malins popped up on the left wing to receive the ball at pace, and evade the attempted tackles to run in from 15 yards out.
There then followed a lengthy stoppage as a neck injury to the Buckingham prop, Kat Cook, necessitated the requirement for an ambulance. Approximately 40 minutes later the game resumed with 32 minutes left on the clock.
It was very quickly clear that the home side had dealt with the enforced break rather better than their opponents. After securing possession in the middle of the field, fly-half, Danni Benge , arrowed a diagonal ball into the left hand corner. Last minute replacement, Lindsay Haynes, eagerly chased this up and did enough to disrupt the Worcester defence. As the ball rolled over the try line Malins pounced to touch down before anyone else could get to it to edge the Swans in front for the first time all afternoon.
Having fought so hard to get back into the match, there was a clear determination that the home side were not going to let this slip. Benge’s tactical kicking kept the ball in the right areas of the pitch and with Kirsty Haig winning most of the line-out ball, it was the Swans who looked the more likely side to increase upon their score, and even when a scrum was awarded to the visitors, the Swans scrum (not weakened by moving Sophie Lepper in to prop in place of Cook) managed to win the ball back as Webster gained at least half a dozen balls against the head during the course of the game.
And it was almost inevitable that the Swans bonus point try would come from their dominant scrum. Worcester were awarded the put in on their own 22 but as the ball went in the hosts got a huge shove on and with ball at Denham’s feet the pack marched on to the try line for the No 8 to score her second under the posts. Bray added the extras leaving the visitors with about 15 minutes to try and retrieve something from a game which had started so promisingly for them.
The home side showed they could be resolute in defence though and although Worcester came back at them in the last 10, the Swans held out for a deserved victory.
Players of the match went to Jayne Webster and to Katie Clark, who excelled back in her more favoured role of inside centre.