This was a game with a lot of hype and with Streatham kindly hosting Ironside at home for the away fixture due to unplayable pitches, writes match reporter Mo.
From kick off Streatham showed strong intent, Amy 'Judo' Ellis-Thompson winning us the scrum with a big hit. Streats gained great yardage from Mel Laidlaw-Anderson with the pick and go. Streatham continued to apply pressure phase after phase, dominating the early territory. However, unfortunately a forward pass close to the line gave Battersea a reprieve as they got the scrum. The ball however was turned over a few phases later. Streatham was awarded with a penalty for a high tackle. Daisy Leach charged into the contact from the tap and making good metres . After great phase play from the forwards, the backs were given good ball and centre Jenny Frost did what she does best muscling her way under the sticks and converting her own try to give us a 7-0 lead. The game had started with the ball not entering the Streatham half.
Ironside kicked deep from kick off, with Paige carrying the ball straight back to our ten. However Streatham were too slow to the breakdown, a recurring theme throughout the game, and the ball was turned over. Phase after phase the defence stayed strong. Ironside had a new found energy and the onslaught of attack continued for the next ten minutes. Streatham managed to turnover the ball and it was cleared well by Jenny, but a kick is only as good as its chase and the Ironsides counterattack allowed them to score down the left. A good conversion made the score 7-7.
There were pockets of very good play from Streatham, including a great turnover from Alix Bushnell, however a few phases later Streats were perilously defending again. Paige Abbs put in big hits but came off with an injury to her back. At this point Streatham had sustained injuries to half of their pack, with Paige, Alix Bushnell with a bloody nose and Ceri Buck with a knock to the ankle. This should give an insight into the level the ladies were putting their bodies on the line.
This half seemed to be a pure defensive effort, Mel and Daisy making a try saving tackle and held the ball up between them, with Mel holding the ball up again a few minutes later.
I had a perfect view of a rib crunching tackle from Jenny on her opposite number. This brought sheer joy to all those around. The first half was played with the majority on the back foot but Streatham managed to keep defence tight and see through the half with the scores tied.
From kick off of the second half it looked like Streatham were going to fight back. Unfortunately a nice rip on Jenny Frost from the ever threatening Ironsides centre Kirsty gave them a breakaway try early in the second half which saw her going under the sticks to bring the score to 7-14. This demoralising blow could be seen on the faces of the ladies. A disheartened Streatham side were back to defending in our 22 shortly after.
Not long after, outside centre Phili May received a yellow card for a high tackle in her rushed defence. The ladies put in monster hits left right and centre during Phili's absence, with clever tactical defence and winger Amy Allen coming in to cover well in the centres. No points were conceded in the sinbin period, a testament to the effort that the ladies were putting in.
After a lovely turnover and great vision from Millie Ross, she nudged the ball into the opposition 22, with Frost and Allen inches away from keeping the ball in play. Helena stole the resultant lineout and the ball was back in our hands. A few scrums later and bosching runs from Mel Laidlaw-Anderson from the back of the scrum and over the line she smashed bringing the score to 14-12. Unfortunately, sheer exhaustion meant that the crucial conversion was missed.
A few minutes later and the whistle blown. The Streatham team we saw today, seemed to have something missing from the usual we’ve become accustomed to. However the determination and grit to fight relentlessly till the end is something to be respected, and a well deserved losing bonus point was all they could take from the game. The ladies continue to sit 4th in the table, just 3 points behind Battersea.
Next week (Saturday 9th February) Rosie Carr's development team are hosting Oxford University Panthers as part of their Varsity preparation in an early kick off before the men's game at home, so do come down early to support.
Forward of the Match: Alix Bushnell
Updated 10:19 - 4 Feb 2019 by Millie Ross
Back of the Match: Ana O'Connor
Scorers: Jenny Frost (1T, 1C), Mel Laidlaw-Anderson (1T)