London Welsh Women match report - Witney, Home, 03/02/19
By Alice Gayner
A shaky start but a ten try victory for LWWRFC
London Welsh were pleased to welcome an uncharacteristically large Witney away squad to Old Deer Park on 3rd February for their second meeting of the season. With the crisp and sunny conditions perfect for rugby, LWWRFC were looking forward to playing again after a 2 week break, and putting their recent training into practice.
Unfortunately the break showed in Welsh’s concentration in the opening minutes, with Witney starting strong and taking the home team by surprise. Building pace from a few phases of forwards play, the Witney centre, a powerful runner, was quick to exploit a gap in the Welsh line and quickly ran the first try of the game over, which was converted to secure a 7 point lead for the visitors.
Fortunately, this proved the shock that Welsh needed, and the team rallied under the brilliant leadership of captain Nat Smith. Witney proved to be a strong unit who contested well, but Welsh worked their moves and built the basics to get back on top. Their first try came from a scrum - despite not being in an obvious attacking position, Welsh secured the ball with Smith picking at 8, popping to the waiting hands of wing, Heidi James, who darted through the defence to cover half of the pitch, scoring her first of the game
Fortunately this seemed a turning point with Welsh capitalising on the momentum to build their game, with 2 further tries coming from touch line to touch line team efforts. It was flanker Zoë Jeanes that hustled the ball over twice to get the score back on track. Witney kept up the pressure though, forcing Welsh to regularly protect their own lines, kicking to clear or relying on their strong carriers to avoid danger.
With 15-5 on the board, Witney’s centre again broke through, catching Welsh in a moment of concentration lapse to force an overlap, taking the score to 15-12.
With the score too close for comfort Welsh rallied, digging deep to produce another try and to bring the half time score to a more reasonable 20-12.
The second half saw Welsh pull away, with their cohesion and fitness shining through and tries coming from all areas of the game. The first of the second half, securing the bonus point, saw Heidi James again pulling off an incredible dart up the pitch, with support from Nat Smith who went over for the points. Next up it was the turn of Amy Thomas, using her power and speed to score under the posts, with fly half Ali Smith kicking for a further 2.
It was Smith who then competently caught and crashed up the kick off, popping to flanker Zoë Jeanes eagerly supporting, who executed a brilliant run up the pitch.
After a scrum in the Witney half, Welsh again built their attack and Amy Thomas again used her strength to smash over for another 5.
With the next kick off not making 5m, prop Alice Gayner was able to exploit the confusion to collect and go, popping to flanker Eimear O’Rourke who herself found the hands of Amy Thomas who scored again.
With 10 minutes to go, Welsh were still on the attack, and Heidi James secured her Back of the Match status with another half pitch dash, once more scoring under the posts, giving Smith the easy task of slotting the conversion over.
The final moments of the game held even more excitement - a line out, ably secured (as they were throughout the match) by hooker Lou Norris led to a rolling maul with the forwards joining forces to truck a good 25 metres up the pitch, their strength securing one final try and ensuring a 54-12 victory.
A huge thank you to all that came down to watch, from across the club and beyond. Whilst there was plenty to work on identified, it was a comprehensive victory and Welsh look forward to taking on Reading away on Sunday 24th February.
1. Alice Gayner (FOTM)
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. Eloise Newton
10. Ali Smith
11. Heidi James (BOTM)
12. Amy Thomas
13. Jo Wells
14. Fred Boni
15. Bethan Williams
16. Keshal Patel
17. Mitzi Pryce
18. Kat Underhill
19. Emily Alland
20. Sara Sennitt