A solid start to our league
3 is a magic number - 2 x hat-tricks to start off the season
Barnes Ladies got their 2017/18 league off to a positive start at home on Sunday as we faced newcomers High Wycombe for the first game of the season. It was a warm and blustery afternoon which we expected would make for tough conditions on the pitch, but we were certainly buoyed by the number of supporters on the side lines and took to the field determined to deliver a good show.
Barnes Ladies lined up to receive the ball as the game kicked off and within five minutes of play we’d secured our first try, with Vice Captain Ruth taking the lead in powering over the whitewash. This settled our nerves and we began to execute our game plan well, with our forwards crashing the ball up and our backs gaining meters. Before long, we’d managed to creep back into the Belles’ 22m and a cheeky snipe from Captain Leah saw the second try coming in quick succession as she wriggled her way under the defensive line.
The restart headed off to the right of the pitch, with Rosie taking the ball in to set up some positive play from the forwards. After a few phases of punching through the middle of the pitch, the ball swung wide through the hands of the backs and we progressed up the field as Ellie almost escaped clear down the right wing, only to be knocked into touch about 10 meters out from the try line. Ellie kindly returned the favour to the Belles by tackling their player into touch as they brought the ball down the very same channel off their line out. Good hands off the subsequent set piece saw us retaining possession long enough for Ruth to have another go at charging into the Belles’ defense to push over the line for her second try.
Following the restart there were some solid passages of play, with the backs and forwards linking up well to grind the ball down the middle of the pitch and then swing out wide to gain ground, taking us back into the Belles’ 22m. It didn’t take long for Ruth to fight her way through the Belles’ backline to cross over the whitewash yet again for her third try of the day.
The Belles got the game going again with a restart, and a strong spell of play by the Belles brought our momentum to slow crawl and disrupted our focus. A word with the forwards by our pack leader calmed us down and brought us back to playing methodically through the phases. Gradually, helped along by some good scrumming and fantastic hooking by Lizzie, we regained the momentum. We moved the ball up the field and out wide to Ellie E who put in a storming run down the right wing to dot down over the try line. Next up was Taz, setting up a blinding run through the Belles' defensive line, hitting the try line just out to the left of the pitch.
Possibly in response to a request from Leah to score tries in the middle of the pitch to help negotiate the windy conditions for conversions, Hester ran a perfect line off a break down, spotting a weakness in the Belles' defensive line and attacking it at pace to find her first score of the game against the left post. This set up a conversion and brought the score for the half up to 37 – 0 for Barnes Ladies.
The second half saw a few changes in personnel, but we retained the momentum we’d built in the first half. Rosie and Hester stormed out to put in some solid defensive tackles from the kick off and before long we were pressuring the Belles in their own half again. Taz took her second try of the game with another pulverising run at the Belles' backline, scoring out to the left of the posts.
Madalena (who had been putting in some solid clearing kicks all day) was next to put her name on the score sheet. Following some fantastic play from the backs to move the ball around the pitch and scatter the defense, Mads got her hands on the ball and pushed through three tacklers to drop over the line and bring the score up to 47 – 0.
The Belles – not letting their heads drop for a minute – pushed up into the Barnes half, making it into the 22m and winning a penalty which forced us back onto our try line, positioned to defend at all costs. A fumbled ball in attack meant a missed opportunity for the Belles, but created a chance for Barnes to move back up the field into the Belle’s half.
Hester took full advantage of our regained territory and in the 65th minute finished off her scoring for the day with a hard hitting run that saw her ploughing into (and then through) a number of Belles before crashing over the whitewash.
Following on from the restart, another solid phase of forwards play and some good ball distribution by Tracey gave Taz another go at crossing over the line out on the left of the pitch. This brought her tally up to three, equalling Ruth’s haul for the day.
With about 4 minutes to spare, there was a passage of play in which the ball moved smoothly left and then right through both forwards and backs hands along the width of the pitch. Lauren (making her debut in green and gold hoops) was involved in this play from the start, carrying the ball into contact. The game moved through a few phases before she got her hands on the ball about 5 meters off the try line and fought her way over to bring the score line up to 62 – 0.
With the minutes ticking down, Barnes managed to save a scrappy restart, again with some good hands from both forwards and backs, to set Rhiannon up for the final try of the game. She was hitting top speed on the left wing and looking to fly down the outside when she spotted a gap a few meters back infield and shot through it like a lightning bolt to place the ball under the posts. This set up the final conversion for Taz and closed scoring for the day at 69 – 0.
Despite a positive score line to set us up at the start of the league, we still have plenty to work on for the season ahead. Credit goes to High Wycombe Belles who had a positive attitude during the game, kept their heads up, fought to the end and were in good spirits throughout. We wish them all of the best for the rest of their campaign and we’re looking forward to seeing them later on in the season.
Our ‘Forward of the Match’ award went to Ruth for scoring a hat-trick within the first 20 minutes of play and for some solid ball carrying and tackling throughout the game. Our ‘Back of the Match’ award went to Jenny for another great game at 10 – she distributed the ball well, managed players with authority and put in fearless, relentless tackles. The ‘Players’ player’ award went to Hester for her incredible work rate and ferocious tackling, as well as her brilliant two try haul – we’re definitely going to miss her while she’s back at Uni.
Our next league game will be a home friendly on Sunday 17th September at 2:30pm. If anyone knows of a referee who would be able to assist with this game, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Starting line up:
Tasha, Lizzie, Ashley, Eleanor, Ruth, Hester, Rosie, Madalena, Leah, Jenny, Taz, Ellie J, Ellie E, Rhiannon, Iselin.
Teddy, Jo, Bethan, Lauren, Tracey, Hellie