UNIVERSITY OF YORK 24-17 UNIVERSITY OF HULL
Images: Petroc Taylor
The women’s rugby firsts put in an impressive display to claim a 24-17 victory over a stubborn Hull side on Sunday in the 2013 White Rose Varsity, giving York a vital three points.
Player of the match Morven Robertson claimed two tries, including the winner, in a tight encounter, as York came back from 17-12 down in the second half.
Hull kicked the match off deep into the York 22 and immediately conceded a penalty for being offside. York opted to run it, sending it through the hands with some beautiful running from the backs. A few phases later, Robertson smashed through two tackles to score an early try for York under the posts, which vice-captain Elaine Flynn failed to convert.
It seemed like it could be a long day for Hull, but they immediately struck back through their fly half Alice Pepper, drawing the scores level at 5-5.
Hull looked dangerous now, dominating the breakdown and playing with incredible physicality.
York began to put together some phases, but their forwards were being outmatched which made life hard for the Black and Gold. Robertson threatened the Hull defence at times with some penetrating runs, and soon York managed to regain the lead, with Doyinsola Otunla touching down under the posts and Flynn adding the extras.
But again Hull struck back, scoring a try in the corner to make it 12-10. Coach Simon Gillard was not happy, and made this clear to the women.
Hull still outmatched York at the breakdown, but York were equally impressive at scrum time. Hull soon asked for uncontested scrums, such was the dominance of the pack, to which, for reasons unknown to man, the referee duly consented.
York spent the last few minutes of the first half camped deep inside the Hull 22, but unfortunately were unable to turn pressure into points, and Hull were able to clear their lines just before half time.
At the start of the second half, Robertson switched from flanker to fly half, swapping with captain Lucy Davies.
York looked threatening as Flynn and Otunla hit the gain-line with real pace and aggression. But some lax play from the Black and Gold led to a break from Kate Turner, making a fabulous run from inside her own 22. Hull had seized a 17-12 lead.
Hull began to look really dangerous, with a scrum deep in the York 22 after another scintillating break from Turner.
But, through great show of character, York managed to turn the ball over on their own 5 metre line, and began to make real ground, putting together some punishing phases, constantly punching holes in the Hull defence.
After a break from Robertson, York had a line out inside the Hull 22 which they knew they must win. Jess Have found Harriet Allsop in the line out, before Mollie Staples burst through to score.
With the scores now at 17-17, anything could happen. But it was York who responded with maturity, looking threatening and dominating possession and also the breakdown.
However, York began to experience a serious case of white line fever, knocking on several times before the line and unable to capitalise on their advantage. Added to this, there were some questionable refereeing decisions that did not help.
It was only a matter of time though until York put together some cohesive play, and eventually Robertson stormed over to score after a vintage break from Flynn, who added the conversion to give York a 24-17 lead.
Time was nearly up, though Hull did look dangerous at the end; however, by now the win was not in doubt, with York clinching the win after Hull’s Opey Akinkyeu was justly penalised for infringing at the ruck.
Davies was ecstatic. At the conclusion of the match she told Nouse, “We have been unfortunate having so many matches cancelled, we haven’t really played in four months. As a team we’ve really come together, particularly as we lost to this team 52-0 last time we played, so to come back like that… well I couldn’t be more impressed. The forwards were storming in the rucks in the second half, the backs were eventually running rings around them, and Morven Robertson is just so great.”