Women’s rugby overcome York. St John in tight encounter

The women’s rugby firsts went up against local rivals York. St John last week and came out on top, winning 10-0

The women's rugby team, pictured here last season, are enjoying a very successful season. Image: George Lowther

The women's rugby team, pictured here last season, are enjoying a very successful season. Image: George Lowther



York University vs. York St. John; a fixture that was always destined to be both a physical, and personal meeting of teams. Despite being unbeaten in the league, with some impressive score lines, it was clear from the first whistle that this game was not going to be the whitewash the University of York had assumed.

The first kick to the home side showed a promising start with a charge down the centre of the pitch by scrum-half Emma Nugent, and just several phases later she managed to power over the line. However, the next 30 minutes led to some of the most frustrating rugby York has seen this season. York St. John quickly stepped up to the mark, and York seemed to lose focus off the back of their first success. Hard tackles and competitive rucking soon had York defending in their own 22, and messy hands in phases from both teams led to the beginning of what seemed to be endless scrummaging.

Both sides’ back lines saw very little action, due to an inexperienced tight head prop for York St. John which resulted in numerous collapsed scrums. Throughout the game penalties were being awarded left, right and centre. Determination from the referee for a strong scrum meant continual resetting in an attempt to get a clean ball. When the ball made a sparse appearance, the fluid rugby York have showcased this year was finally seen on the pitch.

Using the width of the pitch, and targeting St John’s weaker winger, captain Aimee Miller saw a gap in their defence. Both winger Megan Nash and outside centre Claire Hogarth offered supporting options, but it was a quick pop pass to inside centre Amee Wilson that saw another five points added to the score-line just as the whistle went for half time. Windy conditions and unlucky placement meant that Miller was unable to secure either conversion, so as the break was taken York led 10-0.

Although the second half seemed to show a more determined attack from York after strong words from coach Joshua Moatt, neither team was able to break through the defence. Despite some notable individual efforts, York were just unable to translate their hard work into points. A powerful chase saw the ball turned over instantly from the kick, and York spent the final 40 minutes deep in St. John’s 22. Several knocked on balls, by both sides, led to more scrums, and the pace of the game was lost.

Flashes of York’s brilliance were seen in the final minutes, however. Excellent defensive covering by full back Elaine Flynn saw St. John’s own fullback unable to clear the ball, and a last minute tap-tackle also saw her put a stop to the fly-half’s bid to take the ball into York’s half. Phase after phase pushed St. John back onto their own try line, and a stolen line out by second row Fiona Parr gave prop Hannah Curzon a chance to storm down the wing only to be taken into touch just centimetres short of the line.

Overall, the match proved a frustrating game for both teams, with neither side really given the chance to put some pace behind the ball. The 80 minutes were fraught with injuries, and the final score does not accurately reflect the physicality and dominance York demonstrated in the second half of the match.
York plays away at Newcastle next Wednesday and look to continue unbeaten in the league.

York Line-up: 1. Linzi Hull 2. Izzy Lewis 3. Hannah Curzon 4. Fiona Parr 5. Angharad Ball 6. Lucy Davies 7. Nikkie George 8. Sarah McLoughlin 9. Emma Nugent 10. Aimee Miller 12. Amee Wilson 13. Claire Hogarth 15. Elaine Flynn

Subs: Jessica Sharpe, Shaunie Walsh, Harriet Allsop, Vanessa Vázquez Felpeto

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