Women’s rugby beaten by organised Sheffield

BUCS Northern Conference 1A

Images: Lily Grant

The women’s rugby firsts fell to a hard defeat at the hands of a very well-drilled and organised Sheffield side today. A disorganised start threw York somewhat off-balance, but the team quickly gelled together after the match kicked off in bitterly cold conditions on 22 Acres.

Sheffield ran two tries past York in quick succession; the home side’s defence was unorganised in the opening 10 minutes, allowing the strong Sheffield forwards to break through the line and pass it out to their backs, who used their pace to great effect throughout the game. In particular, the Sheffield centres and their front row continually made ground in the York defence.

York managed to reset their defence, quickly realising that pressuring Sheffield caused them to fumble the ball and knock it on repeatedly. York took a hard blow 15 minutes into the match with captain Lucy Davies injuring her knee badly in a ruck, being replaced by Joanna Moffat at flanker.

After this, York’s defence reached a new level. The aggression in the rucks and the tackles was phenomenal; York pushed Sheffield back to the try line, and after a strong period of attack Lydia Buckley was held up on the line. Almost immediately, second row Harriet Allsop and Mollie Staples both came very close to scoring, followed by Izzy Welby being held up on the line.

York’s defence also managed to hold the very strong Sheffield forwards up, demonstrating the effects of the rucking and tackling practice that training has been focused on lately.

The second half saw a number of York replacements; Tilly Kimbugwe came on at 12, winger Lottie Vong was replaced by Lara Turner and Rebecca Kinahan replaced Elaine Flynn briefly at full back.

During the second half, York’s rucking and ball retention were excellent, but during the set pieces of the scrums and mauls Sheffield’s forwards continued to dominate. The Sheffield winger also continuously created problems for York’s defence, always managing to outpace them on the fringes and scoring twice in quick succession.

However, Sarah Lewis put in an outstanding try-saving tackle in the last 10 minutes; Moffat also impressed with her tackling and defensive play, particularly in the final fifteen minutes of the match.

Right up until the final whistle, York did not give up on their defence and Sheffield gave a very hard match, but a good test for the home side who have had little chance to play since December. The discipline and organisation of Sheffield have given York some excellent pointers to work on in training; the two sides meet again next week, away at Sheffield.

York: Leech, Ormrod, Buckley, Staples, Allsop, Watkins, Davies (C), Welby, Barrand, Imbert, Vong, Mendoza, Otunla, Brooke, Flynn, Moffat, Turner, Lewis, Kinahan

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