Bletchley Ladies 7 Harrogate Ladies 68
By Ian Nobes
Bletchley Ladies give a proud show in league playoff final.
After the semi-final match against Harrogate Ladies a couple of weeks ago, Bletchley Ladies were under no illusions about the task ahead of them in this play-off match for promotion. Added to which, with a couple of injuries picked up in the last match, other players still not returned from injury and some on holiday, the ladies had a reduced squad travelling up to Newark Rugby club for the match. As ever, the ladies were determined to fulfil their fixture and give it everything they had.
Harrogate had the opening kick and followed up fast to secure possession. A few quick phases, and within a minute of the whistle, they had their first, unconverted try to open the score sheet; 5 – 0. Three minutes later they had a break from the halfway line to take number two between the posts, helping the extras along; 12 – 0.
Bletchley ladies woke up and dug in, taking the game to Harrogate. Harrogate knocked on at the restart, giving Bletchley a scrum. They passed the ball out from the back till it found the hands of Hannah Prescott, who drove it forward. A few more phases, a drive and more phases took Bletchley up to Harrogate’s 22. Amie Daniel drove pay forward to within 10m of the line, then Bletchley’s red ball worked along the line to try and find an opening. A knock on gave Harrogate the scrum in the middle of their 22, but Bletchley took this against the head. Two penalties from Harrogate and Bletchley moved up to within metres of the line. They recycled, but found strong opposition and couldn’t break Harrogate’s line. However, the pressure on Harrogate was evident, as they gave another couple of penalties, one of them resulting in a yellow card for a high tackle. Bletchley opted to take the scrum for this penalty and continued to push on the line, then Harrogate managed to rip the ball from a ruck and kicked to clear their lines. Jodie Dimmock secured the ball and ran it back. Another couple of rucks, then Harrogate ripped another ball; this time they worked through the phases to move play away from their danger zone, moving play to the middle of the pitch, then into Bletchley’s territory. Ten minutes form the last try, and Harrogate were finding out what the Bletchley bulldog looks like. They gave another penalty, allowing Bletchley to drive back into their opposition’s half. A loose ball at a tackle was secured by Harrogate, giving them an opening and a chance to move away from their territory. Bletchley were not giving them much space though, and progress was slow, then reversed, as a rip from a ruck was passed on to Prescott, who took play back into Harrogate’s half. Bletchley continued to patiently work the phases, then another penalty from Harrogate, this time for a dump tackle, gave Bletchley a line out just outside Harrogate’s 22. They secured this, set up a maul, then passed the ball out from the back. Another penalty gave another line out and another chance. A few phases on and a loose ball was kicked away by Harrogate. Bletchley secured this, but paly was now in Harrogate’s half; 10m into their half, and Bletchley gave a penalty which Harrogate kicked to touch, though only gaining another 5m for their lineout. Bletchley took the line out and drove play back the way they wanted, but a turnover at a ruck gave Harrogate possession which they took full advantage of; they worked the ball till it found their 10, who ran in their third try between the posts; 19 – 0.
Five minute later, Harrogate took their next try, but they had to fight for the next one. They took possession form the restart and pushed up to the middle of the pitch. A forward pass gave possession to Bletchley, and they held their scrum. Unfortunately, a step out gave Harrogate a line out. They secured this, then passed the ball along the line. A missed pass was quickly re-secured, then a penalty from Bletchley allowed them to make further ground. A knock on from Bletchley as they tried to rip the ball from a ruck gave Harrogate a scrum, but Bletchley drove them off this and turned it over. Bletchley ran the ball up, then passed out to Isla Peters, who drove it further forward into Harrogate’s half. A strong drive from Rachael Appleby gained further ground, but finally Harrogate managed to rip the ball from a ruck and reversed the action. They made the halfway mark, then Bletchley did the same to them, ripping the ball out of a ruck. Another penalty was taken as a quick tap by Bletchley, then passed out to Appleby, who drove it forward again. A slight knock on in the pass was scooped up by Harrogate, who pushed play to the middle of Bletchley’s half. Clare Stacey intercepted a pass and ran play up the pitch, then passed out. A short break to check an injury gave Bletchley a scrum to restart. They held this and
continued their slow, but sure, progress. A penalty further helped their progress, but then it was Harrogate’s turn to intercept a pass and they made full use of this, running in another try; 31 – 0.
Harrogate took possession from the restart, then gave it away, only to get it back with Bletchley giving a penalty for holding on. Harrogate’s kick didn’t make touch, and Alexia Dany took it and set up a ruck. Play passed it out to Jodie Denton, who drove it forward. Another penalty from Harrogate was taken as a quick tap. Beth Metcalf ran it through to the middle of Harrogate’s territory until she was halted by a high tackle. Another quick tap and run from Metcalf, then the ladies worked through their phases to move up to the 22. A short injury stop was restarted with a Bletchley scrum. They drove forward and recycled, working along the line looking for a gap. Another short stop and a Bletchley scrum on the 5m line gave them the opportunity they had worked so hard for. The ball was picked from the back, run forward, then passed out. Ruck, drive, ruck and finally Metcalf was driven over the line in the last playoff the half. Prescott took the extras, giving a halftime score of 31 – 7.
The second half started with a lot of changes for Bletchley, due to injuries. Harrogate continued their unrelenting pressure, but despite a hard battle, Bletchley were unable to prevent them running in seven more tries, to leave the final score 68 – 7. Congratulations to Harrogate on their promotion to Championship 1 North, but Bletchley can hold their heads high with the way they held their discipline and kept going right up to the final whistle. They number of penalties from their opposition showed how they got under their skin, especially in the first half. The ladies now have a couple of weeks to prepare for their final at Franklin’s Gardens on 24th April, where they are defending the Alliance Cup. They will find out next weekend who they will face.
Bletchley Ladies are a friendly, welcoming squad who train at Manor Fields on a Wednesday night, 7.00 – 8.30pm. They play hard, both on and off the pitch! We are always open to new recruits, whatever level you play at. If you think you’d like to be involved with this successful squad, come along and give us a try. For further information, contact Sally Peters, email@example.com, or just turn up on Wednesday, with your boots, and see what we’re about.
1. Rachael Appleby
2. Laura Hussey
3. Jodie Denton
4. Amie Daniel
5. Amelia Lee
6. Isla Peters
7. Beth Metcalf
8. Liv Pulfer
9. Emma Lucey
10. Nicky Gross
11. Alex Sutton
12. Hannah Prescott
13. Clare Stacey
14. Alexia Dany
15. Jodie Dimmock
16. Lucy Colledge-Price
17. Verity Robinson
18. Cazz Kay