LWWRFC v Harlequins Ladies 3s - Home - 08/04/17
A roaring victory for the last home game of the season
As the rain drizzled down on Sunday, London Welsh Women took to the pitch at Old Deer Park for the last time this season, hoping to secure a victory against Quins 3s and an unbeaten record at home.
LWWRFC started confidently and soon started making the necessary metres up the pitch, with Paula Cooper crossing the line to secure the first try with fewer than 5 minutes on the clock.
This set the tone for the first half with London Welsh capitalising on their well practiced off load game and interplay between the pack and the back line, and the tries coming thick and fast. The second try was run in by Amy Thomas at centre, making storming runs and cutting excellent lines to receive the ball and score from an offload from Nat Smith.
Thomas, and Elise Mensah on her wing, had excellent form throughout the game with another five points coming quickly from a blinding run from Mensah, ably converted by Cooper.
Ruth Barton and Ali Smith controlled the game at 9 and 10, and both were able to react to Quins errors and to occasional Welsh mishaps to continue to dominate possession. In one such move Smith expertly placed Mensah into enough space for her to crash through the defence, charging up the pitch, and Thomas’s excellent support play ensured she was on hand to take the ball over the line when Mensah was tackled, taking the score to 22-0.
The tries kept coming in the first half. Despite the challenge from the Quins defence impressive rucking from the Welsh pack ensured that the kept momentum, with second row pairing McGivney and Swain consistently working hard to secure the ball allowing Barton to repeatedly ship quick ball from the breakdown. She repeatedly played people into space and forwards and backs alike continued to make significant ground.
Cooper again scored after a period of pressure on the Quins line, before Kat Underhill ensured she was perfectly placed to capitalise on an overlap, scoring on the wing - her debut try for the club. Both tries were great examples of team effort, support play (and evidence of the hard work put in by coach and team) and individual skill.
Whilst it was brilliant to see so many tries coming from open play, and specifically from Welsh being creative on the ball and playing a fluid style of rugby, the final try of the half came from a now familiar move, with the pack driving over the line (despite it being an opposition scrum), and Nat Smith gathering and scoring to take the score to 37-0.
London Welsh Women continued to dominate in the second half and benefited from the experience on their bench including flanker Helena Duggan and centre Bryoni Lynch both always ready to lead the defensive charge, and support the attacking efforts. Welsh again quickly increased their lead, with flanker Nic Crowther breaking the defence to cover the majority of the Quins half. Despite her impressive speed, a number of the team were there to support with props Jeanes and Gayner securing the ball and no 8 Nat safely shipping it into the waiting hands of lock, Gemma Swain, who quickly put another 5 points on the board.
LWWRFC continued to show their dominance in the set pieces with hooker Louise Norris disrupting the first line out (which staggeringly came some minutes into the second half) helping to ensure that possession remained with the home team.
Despite this dominance, Quins didn’t tire and remained both committed in defence and hungry for the ball in attack. The tackling skills of Katie McBride were put to the test by the Quins attack, but she capably saw off the threat with some bone-crunching efforts, and Jane Crowther once again provided a safe and consisted pair of hands for Welsh at fullback, on hand to secure loose balls or see off any attacking threat. Despite this the visitors kept fighting and when Welsh let a ball go loose in the Quins half it took an incredible cross pitch run and perfectly timed tackle from Ali Smith to prevent Quins from scoring.
This was the only moment that Welsh’s concentration seemed to dip though, and they were soon back to playing some incredibly impressive rugby.
Elise Mensah continued a majestic performance to cover three quarters of the pitch, scoring her second of the game, with the next try seeing replacement winger Iliana Damoutzidou score her debut from an offload in the corner from no 8 Nat Smith.
Smith was soon on the scoresheet again herself, running over another to take the lead to 57-0, before Thomas once more collected the ball to complete an impressive hatrick.
Despite the clear margin Welsh kept grafting, executing some brilliant rugby, and the tries didn’t let off, with Alice Gayner, playing at prop for the first time, carrying over the line for her debut try for the club. She was soon joined on the scoring list by Bethan Williams another replacement winger, who on receiving an offload from Jeanes (who had executed a trademark defence-beating carry to crash the ball up the pitch) effortlessly covered the length of the wing to score her own debut try.
Even in the dying moments of the game Welsh did not let off, with Amy Thomas showing quite incredible pace to beat a number of defenders, scoring her fourth of the game. Cooper’s conversion was the icing on the cake taking the final score 79-0, a score which puts Welsh at the top of the table.
The team now look forward to their final game of the season and likely their toughest challenge to date - Portsmouth away next week. A big thank you to all of the supporters who attended on Sunday and to coach Micheal Griffiths for stepping in to support the team.
1. Alice Gayner (FOTM)
2. Louise Norris
3. Zoë Jeanes (VC)
4. Jenni McGivney
5. Gemma Swain
6. Nic Crowther
7. Paula Cooper
8. Nat Smith (C)
9. Ruth Barton
10. Ali Smith (BOTM)
11. Kat Underhill
12. Katie McBride
13. Amy Thomas (BOTM)
14. Elise Mensah
15. Jane Crowther
16. Iliana Damoutzidou
17. Bethan Williams
18. Helena Duggan
19. Bryoni Lynch