Part 2 of 3 completed for Mary's with a mid week trip to North Petherton. With so much rain having fallen lately the pitch was in fantastic shape and with the home side desperate for points to fight of relegation fears it was sure to be a physical encounter.
After a solid start by both sides it was the visitors who struck first when they moved the ball wide, ran a great play, and put winger Lianne Everett away. Her pace and great footwork was too much for the defence, and she crossed on 6 minutes. Jade Gamlin was back from cricket for this one, but her first conversion got a thick outside edge and the umpire signalled "wide". 0-5. On 12 minutes Mary's were at it again, with more slick handling putting Victoria Shakspeare into a gap, and she crossed for her first and SMOBL's second. Conversion added, 0-12.
It was Shakspeare again 10 minutes later, following a series of pick and goes by the pack, who crashed over to take the score out to 0-19. Pethy then came back strongly with good carries, but Mary's defence, particulalry in the midfield where the press was excellent, snuffed out the majority of the attacks. With 5 minutes left of the half, Pethy had their best period of the match with a series of penalties and strong carries. But Mary's held out with some resolute defending, and despite a yellow card for Elaine Hughes' high tackle, they only conceded a 3 point score to see them in at half time 3-19.
Second half and Pethy came out strongly but once again couldn't break down the green and black wall, which soaked up sustained pressure before clearing away with an excellent touch finder from Danielle Rigby. 20 minutes to go and the question was could the visitors find the 2 tries they needed for a bonus point. On 65 minutes they were half way there when some excellent pace and handling in the midfield from forwards and backs gave Kathryn Howells a glimmer on the outside. She put down the pedal and went round her opposite number in the 5 metre channel, before racing around to score under the sticks. Ben Stokes added the conversion, 3-26.
Marys turn to press now and Pethy's turn to match attack with defence. 9 minutes left and then a quality break from Ann Webb who jinked inside, was caught by the full back and offloaded to Tori Gilmartin who had made a great supporting line to score under the sticks. Gamlin converted, and Marys led 3-33. In the final stages Mary's could've had another when Gilmartin looked to have touched down ahead of the defender, but no try and the final whistle blew. This was another fine performance from a side who showed real character to come through a really tough test. Pethy certainly didn't perform like a team who were lower down the table and bought a real physicality to the match. Mary's though continue to hold on to their title by a thread, with Devizes at home on Sunday and a RFU decision on a possible final match against Newton Abbot. Pats on the back all round for this one it was a real team effort. But hands down players player and coaches player was Michaela Excell, who was outstanding all over the park, worked herself to a stand still, and created the all important 4th try with a brilliant midfield tackle. Top shift.
Sunday is the ladies final home game of what has been another hugely successful season. We welcome as much support as possible to celebrate the ladies squad. Kick off is at 1430.