NLD U15 Girls V North Midlands V Staffordshire
The NLD squad gathered for the last set of fixtures of the CB programme at Syston RFC hoping to finish on a high and maintain their 100% record.
First up came the North Midlands side who had just played their first match against Staffs and looked ready and up for the game. NLD crossed the North Mids try line within the first three minutes with a try from Abigail Hammond which was duly converted by Brown but they looked out of sorts and the intensity that was on show a few week ago against Staffordshire was missing. North Mids were quick to the breakdown and were strong going forward but space out wide was obviously available the NLD girls just weren’t using it. NLDs defence was strong however and some dogged forward work started to pay dividends, creating turnovers and taking ball against the head in the scrum, the backs started to profit off this and two quick tries from Jessica Brown, one from an interception and the other from a quality direct line that scythed through the defence took the score to 17 – 0 at the half.
After half time and a request from the coaches to focus on going forwards and to settle down into the game NLD started to exert some pressure on the North Mids side, North Mids were tiring slightly but were still putting in some good tackles and working well at the breakdown. However they were unable to capitalise on this as the NLD Girls just kept hold of the ball. The NLD forwards started to boss the play a bit more and some great direct running at pace broke the gain line on numerous occasions, tries for Maddy Coy and Molly Thornton followed some great work down the outside channels by Heidi Seaton. The game was finished when prop Emily Bingley found herself in the position every front row player dreads, through the defensive line, no defenders in front of you, but a 70m run to the posts. She duly finished the sprint to the line and the game ended with a final score of 41 – 0
Next came Staffordshire, NLD had played Staffs a couple of weeks ago and have probably been the strongest opposition the NLD had met so far. True to form Staffs started strongly but seemed to be missing their main strike runners from the previous encounter, although were still a very strong sde. NLD again were a little slow starting and a few knock ons and wayward passes stopped attacks in their tracks. The forwards rumbled the ball towards the Staffs line and Heidi Seaton picked the ball and drove over the line for the first of her two tries in the first half. At half time NLD were 10-0 up and again needed to focus.
The back row had played exceptionally well as had the front with Rebecca Church thriving in her new role as a Loose Head prop, they were starting to tire however but thankfully there was a good bench to go to and the coaches could make the necessary changes.
The second half became a battle in the trenches with the cold and tiredness starting to take its toll on the players and little mistakes creeping in. Staffs came back in full force and stated to work towards the outside channels with their runners, some great cover tackling by the wingers of Hammond and Roberts ended the attacks and the forwards then swooped in to counter ruck and forced turnovers. A quick tap penalty from NLD found Abigail Hammond in space for a simple run in. Staffs still wouldn’t give up and gain mounted a wave of attacks and the NLD defence started to bend but didn’t break, again a series of penalties relived the pressure and allowed NLD to take the ball back down to the other end of the pitch to give Abigail Tolson her first try for the CB. Final score was 22- 0
The end of a fantastic CB programme where the NLD U15s finished undefeated and only conceded one try. The thanks for all the hard work and commitment shown came from the coaching team and all the girls involved in the playing squad and the development side should be massively proud of what they have achieved. We can only hope they take this passion and dedication back to their clubs and continue their development as rugby players.
Report: NLD U15 Head Coach Neil Whitehead
U15 Development Squad v Staffordshire
The Development Squad had the chance of a second game this programme with a return fixture against the Staffordshire Development Squad, having already met them at Litchfield in a very entertaining game which they won. Numbers were low but the girls attending were very upbeat and keen to enjoy another game.
Early play saw the game swing from end to end with great defence from both teams and Staffs were first on the score sheet as NLD let their guard down to concede a try under the post. The score woke NLD and several flowing moves and great interlink between the girls saw them get close several times but great defence from Staffordshire held them at bay. Staffs continued to attack and several strong tackles held them out for a period before they broke the defence and ran in another couple of tries.
NLD responded with a try before half time to go in 10 points down but with heads high and looking for the go forward play that had been pushed as part of the programme. The second half saw several players stepping up and making try saving tackles ,rucking and mauling with added vigor thus controlling much of the play giving a couple of missed try scoring opertunities from spilled balls and being held up over the try line. Eventually pressure payed and tries flowed and NLD ran out 25-15 winners in a good spirited game which was a pleasure to watch with two evenly matched teams
Great finish to another successful development programme which was generally well supported and players moved between the squads during the season . Thank you to all the girls that fully committed to this and it showed in the games.
Report: Neil Speechley