Women’s rugby firsts edge tight encounter

York’s rugby women recovered from a half time deficit to claim a hard fought win on the 22 Acres

Photo: Justyn Hardcastle

Photo: Justyn Hardcastle

YORK 22 LANCASTER 17

Not to be outdone by their male counterparts on the parallel field, York’s women recovered from a half time deficit to claim a hard fought win. York’s elation was evident on the final whistle as they hung on, withstanding wave after wave of Lancaster attacks in the dying moments.

Coach Bard Wooller described the performance as “thoroughly professional” and labelled the victory “very hard working but very well deserved”. The home side were pushed all the way by the visitors in a dramatic encounter both on and off the field.

York had to contend with the early loss of star player Liz Prance and fell behind to a converted try from Lancaster’s speedy left winger, who would prove a thorn in York’s side all game. The hosts regrouped and prop Kirsty Wheeler powered her way over shortly after to narrow the gap to 5-7. York were functioning more effectively as a team, looking to offload out of the tackle at every opportunity, but Lancaster’s strike runners in the backs were ever dangerous and York full-back Amy Davies was forced to make several last ditch tackles to keep her side in the game.

Lancaster’s pressure told eventually and, after repeatedly failing to clear their lines, York fell seven points behind again. An instant response was forthcoming through captain Chrissie Leahy on the stroke of half-time meaning York went in to the interval only 10-12 behind. The away support had been passionate throughout (despite being the target of a water bomb attack from the opposite touchline) and provided two female streakers as half-time entertainment for the healthy crowd.

With the wind behind them in the second half, York gained the upper hand aided by some astute tactical kicking from Emma Hodgson. Although a try from Gemma Parry was disallowed for a forward pass, Leahy’s second five pointer put the White Rose ahead for the first time in the contest. Lancaster were becoming frustrated and lost their discipline, with the referee sin-binning their captain as a result of persistent infringements near their own line. As tensions spilled over, a further player from each side suffered the same fate for their role in instigating a scuffle.

With time running out, a typically rampaging Chelsey Sprong run saw York gain field position from which Aime Miller dived over for a crucial score. Wheeler’s conversion gave York a 10 point cushion and the boisterous reaction of the healthy York crowd indicated their belief that the game was won. In the final minutes Lancaster’s star winger completed her hat trick, forcing a nail biting finish before the celebrations could begin.

York: Chelsey Sprong, Vic Cusick, Kirsty Wheeler (T, C), Elisha Wagstaff, Liz Prance, Louise Blackwell, Nikki Parker, Gemma Parry, Emma Hodgson, Chrissie Leahy (capt. 2T), Amee Wilson, Aime Miller (T), Kate Fullilove, Sabrina Ammi, Amy Davies

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