Match report – LWW vs Chinnor Kites Sunday 24 October 2022
LONDON WELSH WOMEN STAY STRONG & FOCUSSED TO BEAT CHINNOR KITES
The rain poured all morning but by kick off the sunshine was glorious for London Welsh Women’s home fixture against Chinnor Kites.
From the off it was clear this was going to be a tight battle between two strong and alert teams.
Welsh started with intensity, doing a great job of getting up fast in defence and forcing mistakes. But Chinnor were not caving, and the pressure veered back and forth. Isia Storey put in a brilliant cover tackle out wide, Paula Cooper a great exit kick, Kat Lee an important tackle on Chinnor’s full back. Welsh had a try held up.
All this and we were only 20 mins into the game! Supporters’ nerves were on edge, but Welsh players remained calm and focussed.
From a scrum in the centre of the pitch, Welsh patiently played the phases to make ground to Chinnor’s 22. Some insistent drives from the forwards in the far corner, built space for the backs, with strong runs from Centres Maria Petts and Chryssa Warlow and great support lines from all eventually seeing Maria score in the near corner.
Finally Welsh were ahead 5-0 but a mere 5 minutes later Chinnor capitalised on a brief moment of Welsh disorganisation. With a big kick into space behind and despite a valiant chase back by Nat Smith, Chinnor managed to tap down to equalise.
The pressure was now firmly back on Welsh, and despite going down to 14 for a yellow card, Welsh kept their heads. Rhiannon Owen saved a try by chasing back and beating her opponent to the tap down. The whole team held strong in defence on their own try line to hold the score all square at 5-5 into half-time.
Welsh looked sharper after the break, and team captain Zoe Jeanes sniped round the ruck to score an early try after the restart: 10-5
The next few minutes were fiercely fought before play was stopped for a Chinnor ankle injury. A long delay and pitch move affected Welsh focus and Chinnor scored and converted almost immediately after the restart: 12-10
By now the sunshine had disappeared and deep grey clouds were gathering above. Ominous rumbles of thunder echoed the tense atmosphere on the pitch.
Ffion Owen joined her sister Rhiannon on the pitch for her second game for Welsh, bolstering the pack. Some big carries from Nat Smith and Anita Morgan followed, and you could sense Welsh beginning to build again. Always a menace, Paula Cooper stole the ball and ran strongly down the centre. Chinnor in desperation tackled high, giving Welsh the penalty which Ruth Barton took quickly and almost releasing a score on the wing but for a penalty against Welsh, this time for crossing.
Another high tackle on Coops on Chinnor’s 22, and the forwards worked hard to get over but were held up again on the line. A big Welsh rolling maul almost saw Serena Bailey carry over on her 25th cap. Again Welsh stayed patient, played the phases and Chryssa Warlow made good ground with weaving, powerful runs. Finally Nat Smith crossed the line to put Welsh ahead again: 15-12.
Just four minutes to play but Chinnor were not done. Welsh were immediately pinned back onto their try line. Nerves now completely shot on the sidelines, but Welsh continued to put up a dogged resistance.
A Chinnor kick into space on the right wing in the dying moments of the match set off a foot race (and near heart attacks in the supporters) but a second calm tap down by Rhiannon Owen saved the try, and the win for Welsh. The sweet sound of the whistle came shortly after.
An afternoon of high drama on the pitch was eventually matched by the weather, as the lightning rolled in and the heavens opened, just as the players headed into the clubhouse.
Welcome and congratulations to our debutants:
BOTM Chryssa Warlow
FOTM Nat Smith
POTM Kat Lee
And finally, congratulations to the team for embodying this season’s motto: “Start well, finish strong”.