London Welsh Women match report - Windsor Dames Away, 5/01/19
By Alice Gayner
A successful 80 minutes in the shadow of Windsor Castle
It was a great opportunity for London Welsh Women to blow the cobwebs out and run off the mince pies on Sunday as they headed over to Windsor to take on the Dames in the opening fixture of 2019.
After a good battle at ODP back in October, LWWRFC were expecting a physical contest against a team bolstered by strong, fast runners, so knew they would have to pull together and switch on early.
Welsh started with aggression and took the game at pace, building a good platform, although the month without game time was evident in initial handling errors and slightly rusty decision making. Despite this, Welsh held possession and kept building, working to get the basics right. After 20 minutes their hard work was rewarded and they found themselves deep into the Windsor 22. Unfortunately a forward pass gave possession to the opposition, but pressure on the resulting scrum forced a short kick, rewarding Welsh a line out in the perfect position. Jumper Lou Norris easily secured the ball and the drive was on. Captain Nat Smith was ready and willing to peel off and snipe up the blindside, scoring the opening points.
The game continued in a similar vein with Welsh ploughing on and Windsor defending well - shutting down the Welsh centres and challenging at the breakdown. Welsh held their nerve though and 1 - 15 kept the energy and the drive up and, importantly, held possession.
Eventually the graft was again rewarded and with the backs crashing the ball up the pitch, flanker Zoë Jeanes was there to scoop up at the back of a ruck, crashing over for another 5 points before the half time whistle.
The battle continued in the second half with Welsh again dominating but struggling to convert. Early in the second half a set move allowed Windsor some possession and they capitalised, spinning the ball away from a scrum and sprinting up the wing to score their first of the game.
Windsor really picked up their game in the following minutes, fighting hard for ball, but Welsh were well-drilled, covering the field, protecting rucks and running great lines to bring themselves back on top.
Welsh hugely benefited from an experienced bench, and fresh legs in the form of winger Heidi James helped secure more territory, punching through the defence in open play, and it was James who, after a few Welsh phases back and forth, received a well timed pass from fly half Ali Smith and burst through to score Welsh’s first of the second half.
With Welsh firmly back in control further tries seemed well within their grasp, and when Jeanes broke the line, Welsh numbers were there in support, with scrum half Cooper quick to ship the ball out and Jeanes then in perfect position to pick and go from the next ruck, sneaking through a gap in Windsor defence for another 5.
With 10 minutes to go, Welsh’s sights were set on a bonus point, and 1-15 were involved in the final try, with Welsh showing great patience and determination against a solid Windsor defence to keep inching forwards, drawing the defence with James eventually showing brilliant strength to carry over again for her second try and the final points of the game.
Welsh now look ahead with excitement to next weekend and their next fixture which seems them traveling over the channel to Guernsey.
1. Alice Gayner
2. Louise Norris (FOTM)
3. Hannah Clarke
4. Gemma Swain
5. Jenni McGivney
6. Eimear O’Rourke
7. Zoë Jeanes
8. Nat Smith (C)
9. Paula Cooper
10.Ali Smith (BOTM)
11. Emily Alland
12. Elise Mensah
13. Jo Wells
14. Sara Sennitt
15. Eloise Newton
16. Keshal Patel
17. Charlie Wallace
18. Heidi James
20. Bethan Williams
21. Camilla Campbell