London Welsh Women match report - Rosslyn Park, Away, 25/11/2018
By Alice Gayner
A roaring success on the road for LWWRFC
It was a cold and grey day as LWWRFC gathered at the ground of local rivals, Rosslyn Park. Welsh, buoyed by their win against Reading, were looking forward to a quick and flowing game on the 4G pitch but knew not to underestimate the Slingbacks. The game got off to a roaring start with Ali Smith executing a precise kick off, and Welsh immediately disrupting the Park attack. There were just 2 minutes on the clock when Jo Wells scored under the posts, for her first of many. Despite the obvious potential that Welsh were showing, they struggled in the following minutes to convert metres into tries, with handling errors abound. Fortunately though, the set piece allowed them to continually regain possession, and with captain Nat Smith encouraging the team to adapt their style and protect the ball, Welsh were soon able to start dominating, with flanker Eimear O’Rourke having a great impact with excellent carrying to safely make the metres.
At 14 mins, Welsh’s patience in building a platform paid off, with flanker Zoë Jeanes breaking through a tackle, and safely offloading to the waiting hands of prop Hannah Clarke (who cut some impressive lines throughout) charging through on her outside. When Clarke herself was tackled, Jeanes was back in support to take the pass and carry it over. It was Jeanes again who was instrumental in the 3rd try, executing a barnstorming run across the halfway line and over the 22, eventually completing a beautifully timed pass to centre Elise Mensah who scored under the posts. As well as enjoying the benefits of the open space created by successfully drawing the defence, Welsh also dominated in the physical contest, putting in crushing tackles to stymie any Park attack, or halting runners in their tracks and holding them up. A sniping run from scrum half Paula Cooper from one of these turned over mauls, saw her cover the necessary metres to make the space, and off load to Jeanes who was over for her second try of the game.
At 30 minutes, Welsh again found themselves held up near the try line, but a quick ball out to Nat Smith saw her pass finding perfectly positioned winger Emily Alland. Although unfortunately deemed to be a forward pass, Welsh were able to disrupt the Park attack off the resulting scrum and force an error. The resulting scrum, in dangerous territory, allowed number 8 Smith to pick and go from the back, storming over to secure the bonus point, with just 32 minutes played. The attacking style continued, and the final play of the game saw wing Fred Boni charging down the wing, forcing a solid cover tackle from the Park defence. The half ended with Welsh up by 25 points to nil.
The second half dawned with no signs of Welsh letting off, and it wasn’t long before Jo Wells was back to her scoring ways, capitalising on the space created by a dominant scrum from the pack and tearing up the Park back line to secure her second. Just a few minutes later, she was at it again, with a superb sole effort starting at the half way, beating 3 defenders before getting clear for the last 22 and scoring under the sticks. As Welsh entered the last 20, there was no let up, and they were now playing some incredible rugby, dominating the breakdown, and shipping the ball out to avoid it were possible. Loose head Alice Gayner was the next to score, turning over a ruck, before ripping the ball from scrum half Cooper who had been quick to react to the turnover, and crashing over for a try.
Next up, it was Jo Wells again, after a beautifully timed offload from second row Jenni McGivney played centre Elise Mensah into space for a thundering sprint, before playing on to Wells who put in an incredible effort to rack up another 5 points. Moments later another 30m run from 11 Boni showed her brilliant potential and her penchant for this new position, but a cover tackle by Park’s fullback was able to thwart the Welsh attack on this occasion.
This wasn’t the case for long though and Welsh were soon back on the Park try line, with replacement centre Amy Thomas showing great strength to offload to the waiting hands of Nat Smith who ran a great line to cut through the defence for her second try, before then completing an impressive break and sprint up the opposite wing, popping generously to Gayner who scored her second.
Entering the final ten minutes, fullback Elouise Newton took her own turn to cut loose with some lovely footwork allowing her to leave the defence in her wake, covering 40m and scoring under the posts. Scrum half Paula Cooper converted to huge applause from the crowd.
In the final minutes, the onslaught continued, with 7 Zoe Jeanes breaking defence again and completing a lovely off load to Cooper in support who ran in the final 22m to take the score to 0-67.
Right in the dying moments, Welsh hooker Louise Norris was able to disrupt a Park line out in the air, with second row Swain securing it at the back, not for the first time in the game, linking up with Cooper who played the ball to fly half Smith who carried over for her first and Welsh’s 14th score of the day.
It was a huge team performance from 1-18 to secure a 74 point victory, and to close down any threat of Park attack, with the second half in particular highlighting some incredible play. A big thanks to the travelling supporters, as ever, and to Gwyn’s excellent notes on the game! The team now start preparing for an away fixture in Havant on 9th December.
1. Alice Gayner
2. Louise Norris
3. Hannah Clarke
4. Jenni McGivney
5. Gemma Swain
6. Eimear O’Rourke (FOTM)
7. Zoë Jeanes
8. Nat Smith (C)
9. Paula Cooper
10. Ali Smith
11. Federica Boni (BOTM)
12. Elise Mensah
13. Jo Wells
14. Emily Alland
15. Eloise Newton
16. Charlie Wallace
17. Amy Thomas
18. Karina Lo Dico