On the 9th September Bracknell Ladies made their way over to Battersea Ironside Ladies for their first league match of the season. Nerves were kicking in as the sun beat down onto the teams with the ground hard but playable. The whistle blew and Shiv Jamieson quickly caught the rolling ball from kick off and carried strong into the forward pack knocking tacklers to the floor. Support from Mealsy Whitbread and Maisie Laslett kept the ball alive for more phases.
It took a while for both teams to find their flow, with a few handling mistakes but soon a scrum came in Bracknell’s favour and they were quick to take the opportunity for the backs to show off the moves they had been working hard on over pre-season. Megan Jones had a great first match playing in the number 10 shirt, with control of both the forwards and the backs and powerful carries.
Battersea were first to get points on the board, getting the first try in the corner and the second quickly followed making it 10-0 to them. Bracknell’s spirits weren’t dampened however and a high ball from Zara King at the reset allowed time for Shiv Jamieson to put pressure on Battersea.
After a scrum in Battersea’s favour, Maisie Laslett spun away from the scrum to make huge hits knocking the Ironsides back. A great counter ruck from Maisie led to Battersea conceding the ball and allowed Bracknell to regain possession.
Esmee Sturges showed her quick feet and strength on the wing as she stepped past players and as she powerfully shook them off, Bracknell were quickly in sight of the try line again. A penalty against Battersea allowed Bracknell to take a quick penalty through Tash King and with the forwards in support she crossed the line for the first Bracknell try. Mia McCreesh stepped forward for the conversion and was successful making the score going into half-time 10-7 in Battersea’s favour.
Half time score: 10-7
Twenty minutes of punchy rugby followed after half-time with neither team offering up any scoring opportunities. Great defence from Bracknell meant that Battersea couldn’t find a gap through to score. Battersea finally managed to make a break but were soon pounced upon with superb cover tackles from a pacey back three of Cat Bell, Leah Watts and Rachel Rickett. However wave after wave of defence soon tired Bracknell and the Ironsides found a gap to dot down and put the score at 15-7.
A Bracknell scrum led to a good running line from Hannah Taylor as Amber Clark wrapped round and received the offload. Amber carried the ball to make more ground up for Bracknell. More good carries and offloads led to a brilliant counter ruck from Battersea and unfortunately the ball was turned over. Battersea’s possession of the ball didn’t last for long as Esmee Sturges, Chloe Budd and Amanda Cooper smashed into the tackles and managed to get the ball into touch. Flanker Shona Webb pounced on the ball in a lineout to enable Bracknell to power forward with a driving maul. Zara King spun away from the maul to get Bracknell’s second try. The score now a nail-biting 15-12 to Battersea with just minutes to go.
Another Bracknell lineout in the 22 allowed the backs to use their exit strategy as Mia McCreesh kicked the ball which went into the hands of an Ironside player. Mia sped down the pitch to make a huge hit on the Battersea player. Lauren Clark was next to make the big hit and Leanne Smith turned the ball over to regain possession for Bracknell. Big carries and good running lines from the team meant more ground was gained and yet found themselves in Battersea’s 22 thanks to another big kick from Mia McCreesh. Zoe Young quickly reacted off the back of a maul to carry the ball with Amber Clark and Leanne Smith assisting to eat up the metres to the try line. Tash King then picked the ball from the ruck and powered over for the final try for Bracknell.
Final score: 17-15
A few words from our captain, Hannah Taylor; “What a great way to start the season with a win. The team showed their determination and strength today with great attacking lines, strong defence and quick decision making. Proud of you all.”
Forward of the Match: Zoe Young for great, strong carries
Back of the Match: Rachel Rickett for smashing tackles
To find out more about Bracknell Ladies RFC and upcoming fixtures - please visit - http://www.bracknellrugbyclub.com/teams/169011