The Pankhurst Cup
Combined Services Ladies v England Students
This year’s fixture between the CSRL Ladies and their England Students counter parts was played at Thatto Heath Crusaders ground in St Helens on probably the hottest October day since records began however to their credit both teams put on a great show of open and exciting Rugby League. The Students came into the match on the back of two good wins over a German national side and a French regional side whereas the CS Ladies had only been together for a few days ahead of the match, although the recent Inter Services series had given the squad some good game time in their individual service teams.
The match kicked off at 2.30 and with the temperature in the high 20’s and in fierce sunlight Referee Cliff Tamou wisely arranged for the match to have an extra three minute break on the 20 and 60minute mark for all on the field to take on much needed water. With CS playing with the wind in the first half the match began and the lack of squad timer together for CS was apparent in the early stages as the Students pressed for an early score. CS suffered a big blow after barely five minutes when RN Scrum half Zoe Wareing was hurt whilst making a tackle, initially she tried to run off the knee problem but it was not going to work and she had to leave the field for good. Shortly after the students scored the first points of the match, a neat kick through was missed by the CS defensive line and the ball was touched down to the right of the posts, a solid conversion from rising star Tara Jane Stanley put her team six pints to the good after 12 minutes. After this early score CS began to look more cohesive and began taking the game to the students but a couple of dropped passes and loose carries meant by the end of the first quarter they had nothing to show for their efforts however good defence had kept the Students to just the one score. After the water break CS pressed for the equalising score but after a sustained period of pressure the Students broke from the own half and after a 30 metre sprint to the line Beth Newton crossed and touched down under the posts to give Stanley a straight forward conversion. Despite now being 12 points down there was no evidence of panic in the CS ranks and they returned the Students half to press for the opening score. A series of good attacks looked to have succeeded for CS but Ref Tamou judged the CS player had been held up over the line on the last so CS remained scoreless. To further pressure the CS ranks RN centre Lou Clark took a bad knock to the ankle after 25 minutes or so and had to sit out the rest of the game. Despite this further setback CS were still defending well and it seemed only a matter of time before the score came however after more good defence both Jolandi Joubert and Sophie Hinds needed treatment after a clash of heads so more juggling was needed by CS Coach Jason Grant to re-jig his side whilst the players recovered. Finally the pressure on the students told, a massive hit caused the ball to come loose from the students and was scooped up by CS good hands saw the ball move from the left into centre field for Sarah Roper to cross for a well deserved four pointer, Carice Roberts converted with her first of four for the afternoon and CS were up and running. Further pressure began to tell on a tiring Students side but CS could not make the pressure tell and the score remained at 6:12 at the halftime break. The break seemed to lift the students who came out strongly with the breeze and sun at their backs. Despite taking some hits during first half play Tara Jane Stanley was still influential on field and she confirmed this influence on 45 minutes with a try of her own which she duly converted to put the Students 12 points to the good again. This was to be their last score as the CS team grew in confidence as their fitness began to tell on the Students. The next 15 minutes confirmed their ascendancy as CS pack began to dominate the game; front rower Sarah Roper especially was making good yards in centre field to give CS the platform to launch further attacks. It was Ropers fellow prop Rosie Haigh who scored next benefitting from good approach play the powerful Army No 10 brushed aside the defence to touch down, Roberts again adding the extras. Barely had he game restarted when CS levelled the scores, stand-off Sarah Hudson crossing for her second of the match giving Carice Roberts her third conversion of the match. Again almost straight from the kick off the CS pack moved the ball from deep and with an exhilarating piece of play which saw the ball go from one side of the field to the other through at least six pairs of hands to winger Jolandi Joubert who crossed for probably the best try of the match. This time Roberts was just wide with the kick however CS now seemed to be well in control of the match. The only score of the final quarter of the match was a great solo effort by Fiesha Greene who took the ball 25 metres out and scattered the tiring students defence on her way to the line touching down to the left of the sticks to give Roberts her fourth and final conversion of the match. This was to be the final score of the match and underlined the CS dominance of the fixture. Coach Jason Grant was very pleased with the CS overall performance against a strong Students team featuring many of the rising stars of the Ladies game. The Player of the Match trophy was awarded to Tara-Jane Stanley whilst Kate Garside who had led her team well throughout the game collected the Pankhurst Cup on behalf of Combined Services.
CSRL Ladies: Rosie Randfield, Lou Clarke(RN), Marianne Classen, Carice Roberts, Joulandi Joubert, Sarah Hudson, Zoe Wareing (RN), Sarah Roper, Emma Swinton (RN), Rosie Haigh, Francesca Morton (RN), Fiesha Greene (RN), Katie Garside (C), Sophie Hinds (RN), Kareena Brooks, Mahayla Attis (RAF), Louise Redmond (RAF)
Scorers: T- Hudson (2), Joubert, Haigh, Greene
G- Roberts (4 Conv)
England Students: Tara-Jane Stanley, Katie Hepworth, Ashlea Prescott, Joanna Kirkby, Beth Newton, Naomi Westwood, Faye gaskin, Sarah Hothersall, Sade Hacking, Charlotte Benjamin, Sophie Gaskell, Beth Pollard, Aimee Staley, Poppy Davis, Jade Aspinall, Lou Gallimore, Katie Hancock, Holly Myers, Jess Potter.
Scorers: T Newton, Stanley
G Stanley (3 Conv)
Referee: Cliff Tamou
Touch Judges: Mark Nicholson, Kieran Murphy