With Christmas done and dusted, the Black Widows welcomed Old Caterhamians to Povey’s close for the first game of 2019, with the Widows boasting their largest player roster for the season so far.
The Widows knew that this was be a tough game but were up for the challenge.
A lapse in concentration from the Widows saw the ball spilt forwards from the kick off, from the resulting scrum, Old Cats applied the pressure as they attacked the Widow’s line. The Widows were penalised for not rolling away, the opposition seized the opportunity with a quick tap penalty, scoring under the posts and adding the conversion.
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The early lapse in concentration served as an alarm for the Widows with Phoebe Hurrell and Tanith Goodenough dominant in attack, as they made inroads into the Old Cat’s line. As the Widows forwards played the phases, the ball was spun out to the backs with great hands from Jenny Weller and Mel Bramley feeding Ghislaine Moolenaar who outpaced the defence from inside her own half to score under the posts, Weller dutifully adding the extras.
As both sides began to play some exciting rugby, with Weller showing great intelligence with her tactical kicking, whilst Widows forwards Diana Anderson and forward of the match Louise Skelhorn were tackling everything in sight, with powerful running from Shelley Barnes and Katie Sharpin creating opportunities for the Widows to run at space. As the Old Cat’s penalty count began to rise, Louise Blunt was taking every opportunity for a quick tap penalty. However the referee was quick to react as the opposition continued to not retreat 10 metres from a number of penalties and sent an Old Cat’s player to the sin bin for the repeated infringements. Seeing the success, Blunt continued with the tactic and from one break scored, Weller ever reliable from the tee adding the conversion.
The Widows made a change with Leanne Chapman coming on and immediately making an impact adding some great direction and structure to the defensive line, eagerly assisted by some powerful hits from Paula Ridley and Caz Gaiger as the Widows looked to neutralise the Old Cat’s attack.
As play continued, the Widows rising error count was allowing Old Cats too much possession and after a number of phases they crossed the line, the score proving to far out for the kicker, Widows ended the first half narrowly leading 14-12.
From the restart, it was clear that Old Cat’s had a new game plan, run hard and direct at the Widows. The home team knew they were going to have to put in a defensive shift to have any chance of staying in the game.
With the Widow’s backs linking well, another scintillating run saw Ghislaine cross again, Weller again adding from the boot.
At 13, Becky Hollands was steadying the Widows back line with a number of crunching tackles, superbly supported by winger Sally Hubbard. As Old Cat’s continued to send their powerful runners at the Widow’s line, they looked to have scored, only to be stopped by an amazing try saving tackle from fullback Ella Hubbard as she put her body on the line to prevent the score.
As the bombardment continued and the Widows began to tire, Old Cat’s added another try.
With a number of tackles going high the referee sent Bramley to the bin for the teams mounting infringements, Old Cat’s capitalising as they crossed the line again for an unconverted try. The Widows brought Lorna Caney on to help close out the game, returning after a numbers of months sidelined.
The Widows were determined to have the last say, as Ghislaine broke into the Old Cat’s half before feeding Weller who executed a great chip only to be called back by the referee who adjudged the pass to have gone forwards.
As the clocked ticked down, the last play of the game saw Ghislaine spot the opposition defence shift as she came off her wing to receive the ball and sprint in from her own half to score, securing herself the coveted back of the match, Weller unable to add the kick, final score Widows win 26-24.