Barnes Ladies vs Hackney Ladies - 20th January 2018
Mud, rugby and more mud
After a heavy defeat on the 14th January away at Old Elthamians, Barnes Ladies had been looking forward to our friendly last weekend against Hackney Ladies and the game didn’t disappoint. Hackney have had a successful season in NC2 and are likely to join us in NC1 next season looking at the great results they’ve had in their 2017/18 season so far. With Barnes Ladies having a few big league and cup game fixtures since our return from the Christmas break, it was a fantastic opportunity to give our development players some good game time and to just play rugby for the fun of it!
Although the sky was grey, the wind was cold and the pitch was a mud pit, everyone was in good spirits and up for the game. Barnes Ladies kicked off to start proceedings and were immediately given a scare as Hackney Ladies gathered the ball in with intent and one of their speedy backs powered down the left of the pitch towards our 22m. Solid tackling by our backs cut them short in their advance and it wasn’t long before we’d managed to grind our way up the middle of the pitch back towards Hackney's 22m.
With the mud and rain making the ball as slippery as a bar of soap, it was difficult to for both teams to keep possession, but Hackney were doing really well to disrupt our game plan as they stole the ball at the breakdown and put in some quality rucking. However, they couldn’t capitalise on their possession and we managed to close them down and force errors by keeping the pressure on them.
There was a bit of to-and-fro for the next 10 minutes or so, with knock-ons featuring quite heavily thanks to the drizzle and mud. A scrum on the right of the pitch just outside the Hackney Ladies’ 22m set Captain Taz up for a big carry, which saw her hitting the defensive line and dragging a handful of Hackney players along for about 8m before breaking through and shaking off the last two defenders as she stretched out and placed the ball safely over the try line.
Hackney again showed real determination at the restart and although their players took great pleasure in running hard at our defensive line we were able to hold them back. A few jabs around the outsides by their speedy backs were cut off by solid covering tackles from Lily, Charlotte and Ashley. Equally, any attempt down the middle of the pitch by the Hackney forwards was halted by big hits from Bethan, Lizzie, Taz and Charlotte.
We had a few good opportunities in attack too, with Rachel, Rosie and BT carrying the ball really well and our backs getting a chance to stretch their legs along the wings every now and then. An exceptional piece of play between the backs saw some really good linking up between Ashley and Jenny to almost break the line but we were bundled into touch just inside the Hackney 22m. A knock-on at the lineout gave them the chance to push us back towards the halfway line and out of danger. With the number of scrums climbing as both sides struggled to hold onto the ball in the tough conditions, the game seemed to be settled firmly just inside Hackney’s territory until the half-time whistle blew.
As the rain started coming down harder and the heavy mud made us slower as it gathered on our kit and boots, we kicked off the second half with a few replacements to our back line – including newest recruit Aimee. Hackney seemed intent on equalising and after a few hard hitting phases of play they made a good run down the right of the pitch coming to within meters of our try line only to knock the ball on under pressure, giving us the chance to clear our lines and edge back into their half. The mud was causing chaos with the scrums but it did make some of the big hits look spectacularly dramatic as players ended up sliding around the pitch.
A great spell of play out on the left of the pitch saw Ashley gathering in a clearing kick from Hackney Ladies and linking up again with the left wing - this time Circé - to take us out of our 22m and within 10m of the Hackney try line. Again, some good cover tackling by their nippy backs and great work from them at the breakdown meant the play ended in another steal and Hackney rumbled their way out of danger towards the middle of the pitch.
In the final few minutes of the game, we muscled Hackney Ladies off the ball in a muddy scrum just to the left of the pitch on the edge of their 22m. The ball was crashed up a few times, with Charlotte and Lizzie both making a big impact as they charged fearlessly at the Hackney defensive line. A strong run from Taz as the ball popped up out of the breakdown almost brought us over the line, but the Hackney Ladies threw everything they had at us to keep us out. We stacked up off the breakdown just under the posts but Hackney Ladies managed to hold the ball up in our final attempt to cross their try line and the Referee signalled the end of the game.
Despite (or perhaps thanks to) the muddy conditions, there was a fantastic atmosphere on the pitch throughout the game, with plenty of good natured chat between both teams – this was definitely a match played in the original spirit of the game. Hackney Ladies were very formidable opponents and it’s easy to see how they’re thriving in their league at the moment, with some incredible driving runs from their forwards and nifty handling skills and speed in their backs. We wish them everything of the best for the rest of their season and who knows, we might meet them officially in the league next season.
Our forward of the match was Rachel who had a fantastic outing, playing a full game in second row and carrying the ball hard into contact as if she has been doing it for years! Back of the match went to Tracey who carried the ball well and also took a pretty big hit from the Ref – definite yellow card for contact with the head from that guy! Our Player’s Player award went to Ashley for not missing a tackle and creating some really good running opportunities for the backs – and also surviving an accidental clothesline tackle.
We have a derby game away at Battersea Ironsides this weekend. It’s always a super fun fixture with our local rivals and we hope to see you down at the pitch to support us.
Ashley Holloway, Lily O'Hara, Jenny Crowden, Carolanne Vouriot, Charlotte Bigland, Jennifer Fairfield, Tracey Smith, Bethan Phillips, Lizzie Robsinson, Ashley Brandon, Charlotte Luckraft, Rachel Henry, Bethan O'Connell, Russ Buckley-Taylor, Tazine Bogue
Replacements: Rosie Spiegelhalter, Ellie Jones, Aimee Staniford, Circe Le Mache