Windsor Dames vs Barnes Ladies - 11th February 2018
By Ashley Brandon
Rugby with a view...and apocalyptic weather...
Sunday’s game at Windsor was a really tough match against the Dames, with both teams battling through the mud, sleet, snow, rain and wind…but the background canvas of Windsor Castle was lovely in the intermittent spells of bright sunshine.
The Dames had some quality players, with their fly-half’s boot proving useful both when kicking from hand and from the tee – she was able to convert two very difficult kicks in challenging conditions. Their backs had plenty of pace which they used as they tested us out wide, while their big forwards pack crunched and rumbled hard up the middle of the pitch.
Windsor Ladies secured four tries, three of these coming in the first half. Their first score was within five minutes of the game starting, out on the left of the pitch with their backs showing us their speed early on. The second try took them a while longer, with Barnes Ladies managing to put up a good fight, forcing errors from Windsor which allowed us to kick downfield and clear our lines. But Windsor were tenacious and eventually crossed over the whitewash despite having a player off in the sin bin for a reckless high tackle.
There was some fantastic play from the Barnes backs with Ice, Charlotte B and Ash H putting in fantastic cover tackles, while Lily and Ellie J added to their quick pace and carry count, along with a steal or two at the break down. Tracey and Mads alternated attacks between crashball from the forwards and speedy feet from the back line.
Circé took really well to her new role in the forwards at flanker, showing her tackling prowess and speed off the scrum. Beth had a great outing too, working hard in the lineouts as she negotiated the windy conditions and muddy, slippery ball, and she showed absolutely no fear as she packed down in the front row despite it being her first time wedged between the props. We held a good defensive line, and we forced the Dames to mostly play out wide as we closed down the middle of the pitch through Big Yellow, Rach H, Charlotte L and Weston pretty much creating a solid green and gold brick wall.
The last try of the half for the Dames came from about 15m off our try line and caught us off guard as a ferocious weather squall dropped, driving sleet and cutting wind into our faces, making it difficult to hear the referee’s call on the foul we had committed. While we were walking back to what we thought was a scrum, the ref had called a penalty and the Dames’ 9 took the opportunity for a quick tap-and-go to crash over the white wash, with the squall passing over in the time it took for their 10 to set up for the conversion.
A few minutes out from the second half, Barnes Ladies had a good break into the Dames’ territory where we rallied near the Windsor try line, playing phase-after-phase of crash ball, shifting patiently from left to right. Eleanor hammered into the Dames’ defenders as if her month away from rugby had never happened. Big yellow charged at their forwards and drew the defence in enough for us to eventually create a Taz-sized gap for our Captain to punch through near the posts. It was an incredibly proud moment for the team as we’d all shared some part in making sure the ball crossed the line, and we were reassured that we’re definitely able to deal with the pressure and keep working together patiently to deliver the score. Taz quickly converted the try and we reset for the last few minutes of the half, with neither team managing to pick up any more points.
The second half was a real grind from the off, with tempers starting to fray a little as the weather fluctuated between stinging sleet, blinding sunshine and howling wind. We spent a lot of time in the Windsor half, but struggled to edge past their 22m. A kicking game ensued with Taz and Mads clearing our lines well to allow us to put the pressure back on the Dames as we chased upfield. However, their backs were returning the favour, which meant the poor forwards were getting knackered running to-and-fro around the middle of the pitch at one point! Unfortunately the Dames were able to capitalise on some of the ground they’d made into our territory around 20 minutes into the second half and crossed the line – taking poor Ash out at the time.
We restarted the game with a player down for a few minutes until Windsor decided to match our numbers. Rach H and Weston looked to be having a fun day out, smashing into the Dames’ defensive line with intent and putting attackers on their butts whenever Windsor tried to make ground. Play carried on around the middle of the field for a while until we sustained another injury in the forwards.
As the weather started to close in again for another apocalyptic downpour, the Dames took one more charge down the pitch, with Rach H and Taz both closing in on their centre to seal off her attack. Unfortunately the player jumped into the double tackle which ended with her landing awkwardly, effectively ending the game. She was fortunately up and walking soon after.
It was a physically bruising game, made all the more painful by the tough week we’d had and certainly not helped by the very changeable weather conditions. As a club we’re super proud of the way we conducted ourselves (despite Taz going in the naughty corner) and for toughing it out – and what a try we scored. It was fantastic to have supporters on the side lines. Thanks to Charlotte’s family for coming down to watch – apologies we couldn’t organise better weather but at least the view was nice when the sun came out! And to Lachy for enduring the blizzards and taking care of Ash.
Back of the match went to Charlotte for some superb, crunching tackles out on the wings. Forward of the match went to Eleanor who picked up exactly where she left off at the end of last year with those big rumbling charges down the pitch. And the Player’s Player award went to Circé for some fierce tackling and taking some big knocks in the process!
We’re back to the league this week with an away fixture on Sunday in North London against Tabard Ladies. Kick off will be at 2pm and the venue for the game is King George V Playing fields, Cobden Hill, Radlett, HERTFORDSHIRE, WD7 7JN
We’ll also be hosting some U11 and U13 girls only rugby sessions on Sunday mornings from 9:30am at the B.E.S.T pitches opposite the Barnes Clubhouse, so if you have a sister, daughter or friend who is interested in playing girls rugby, bring them down!
Ashley H, Ellie J, Charlotte B, Lily, Ice, Mads, Tracey, Charlotte L, Beth, Ashley B, Rach H, Eleanor W, Circe, Lauren, Taz