Kent RFU Ladies v Middlesex RFU Ladies
The Kent ladies travelled to Middlesex for their second game in the Gill Burns County Championship division 1 cup. The ground at Wasps was in perfect condition for this time of year. The wind was blowing from left to right towards the clubhouse. Kent kicked off with the wind at their backs, the ball travelled deep into the Middlesex half being chased down by the Kent players. Although Middlesex had possession, the pressure from the Kent ladies resulted in a kick going straight into touch for a Kent Lineout just outside the Middlesex 22.
The lineout was won and the ball went quickly from scrum half Becca “Ginge” Guild to Bree Hill our fly half, a dummy switch by Lizzy Nicholl and Georgia Gray took the ball at pace, gliding gracefully through the Middlesex defence to dot the ball down on the left of the uprights. 5-0 to Kent, the conversion was blown off course in the wind.
Kent had responded to the coaches call for high intensity in the opening minutes. They continued in this vain, the kickoff was caught by the loose forward- Georgia Barrand, powering forward and then setting up the ruck ball. A few more phases where Stephanie “Bruce” Purdy took the ball at pace from Ginge and always broke the gain line. A kick from the ever-dependable Bree gave Kent the advantage of field position, albeit a Middlesex lineout, which was snatched by Bruce. After a few phases of play, the Kent ladies were awarded the put-in to a scrum. The forwards were imperious and dominated the scrum, Vicky Black, Sophia “Phia” McGauley and Sarah Moorhouse in the front row with Zoe Hil and Bruce in the boiler room, the back row of Shaunie Brown, Georgia Barrand and Becky Penfold who eventually won forward of the match, were purring like a well-oiled machine and won ball for the backs. Along the line, a dummy then offloads to Shaunie who powered over to take the visitors into a 10-0 lead when Bree slotted the conversion from out on the left-hand touchline to take the score to 12-0.
Middlesex put up the high short ball which swirled in the wind, after a scrappy period of play, the ball was turned over, Bree kicked Kent back deep into the Middlesex 22, Ellie Lawther on the right wing chased the kick and put pressure on the Middlesex backs, following the breakdown the scrum was awarded to the hosts. Under pressure, their no 8 picked up from the base, chased down by Shaunie and a knock on resulting in a Kent scrum. Kent’s back row move resulted in recycled ball to the forwards and Sarah was held up over the Middlesex line. A further Kent scrum powered forwards, the ball was passed quickly to Bree who sold a dummy and spun round to go over for the try that she deserved. 17-0 to the visitors.
Middlesex then recovered to take possession of the ball after the kickoff, the ball was kicked to the Kent 22 from a penalty. Sustained pressure in the Kent 22 with Beth Pickernell putting in some tremendous tackles, however, the damn broke after a succession of penalties where the Kent ladies were adjudged to have crept off-side, Middlesex got the first of their tries which was duly converted to put the scores at 17-7. Further attacks did not bear any fruit and the score remained 17-7 at half time.
Kent received the kick off at the start of the second half, at the breakdown Bree switched play to Tash on the left wing, where a controversial tip tackle resulted in a penalty only. The ball was adjudged not straight at the lineout but the forwards won it back in the resulting scrum. Despite having much of the possession and territory, Kent could not turn the pressure into points. Middlesex cleared and had a lineout on the Kent 22. From the lineout, the ball was spread out wide and Middlesex got their second try. 17-14
The second half was high energy and players on both sides were putting their bodies on the line, a change of front row, Bex Broadhurst and Becca Leharne came on at loose and tight head respectively. Kent continued to put pressure on the Middlesex pack and found themselves back deep in the Middlesex half. Turnover ball, after a sustained period of pressure and the ball, was taken forward by Shaunie with explosive power, through the defence for her second try of the match. Bree slotted the conversion to give Kent a little breathing space. Katie Dootson came on to relieve Ginge at scrum half and bring all her premiership experience to the team, cool heads were required and Ginge had been magnificent in her passing game.
Further changes, Ellie Drabble on for Georgia Barrand and Ebba Wiberg replaced Stephanie “Bruce” Purdy who had given everything. It is worthy of note that the lineout which had not gone to plan last week was significantly improved and that was largely due to the return of Sophia (Phia) McGauley at hooker and Beccy Penfold who leapt like a salmon and took a significant number of balls no matter which team threw in. Beccy was industrious at the breakdown and answers critics much the way that Neil Back used to when people say that she is too small, actions speak louder than words.
The finishers brought on renewed energy and further sustained pressure by the Kent ladies was rewarded with a penalty under the posts, a cool head was required and Bree dismissed the use of a tee and drop kicked the penalty over to put Kent 13 points ahead. 27-14
Following the kickoff, Middlesex had the throw into the lineout, the wind still playing havoc with the throwing in, Bex Broadhurst snatched the ball, which flew along the line to Tash, who screeched up the left wing to the Middlesex 22 only to be wound in and bundled into touch.