London Welsh Women 25 vs Oxford Quins 19
On a far too summery October day, London Welsh Women finally got their league campaign underway with a home game against Oxford Quins. With the Leagues having been restructured again in the off season, Welsh are facing a number of new rivals within the new league.
We’d watched with interest as the results of the league dropped in on Sunday and Oxford Quins beat Chesham 71-10, which was quite some way to start their league season. Welsh had a delayed start due to the nuptials of No8 Zoe Jeanes (a huge congratulations to her and Tim) so nerves were high in the lead up to KO.
Welsh received the KO to start the game which was played with a ferocious intensity by both sides throughout. Welsh went through their phases but Oxfords defensive line held strong with some huge tackles going in. The breakdowns were hotly contested with neither side really gaining the upper hand. Welsh remained patient and worked the phases finally setting Fullback Cassie Beynon free down the right wing, beating several defenders and scoring in the corner much to the delight of the players and crowd alike. The try was not converted.
From the restart things didn’t let up. The Welsh defensive line was immense, working hard for each other with Wingers Emma Dann and Rhiannon Owen putting in some big tackles out wide. Qunis sneaked a try against the run of play, spotting the pass was going from 10 out to the forwards, allowing them a fantastic interception to run in under the posts to make the score line 5-7.
Underterred Welsh marched up the field, with a fantastic little chip over the top of the defenders seeing Cassie Beyond regain her own kick but was tackled on the 22. The forwards were there to ruck over and carry the ball, Zoe Jeanes making the first of many storming runs up the pitch. There was an infringement at the ruck which lead to a penalty on the 5m line which was taken quickly by Ruth Barton (scrum half) and passed straight to Paula Cooper who crashed it up. At the ensuing ruck the ball was popped out to Flanker Carys Evans who crashed over to score. The try went uncovered and the score stayed at 10-7
Half time was nearing but the physicality of the game was taking its toll on Welsh. They lost Inside centre Bianca Sainty to a leg injury, Cassie Beynon, Kat Underhill and Carys Evans with head injuries and by the end of the first half Welsh were down to 13 players.
Welsh regrouped at half time and with heads held high returned to the field ready to get the job done.
Welsh kicked off and the team trusted in their new defensive system, making their first up tackles, and getting back up to fill the line. When Welsh got the ball in hand they were patient. The Welsh Scrum, a player short, made an absolute nuisance of themselves, pushing Quins off their own ball several times and winning the scrum against the head. Their lineout was now working well and a penalty by Quins lead to a welsh lineout Between the quins 10 and 22. The ensuing Maul was an absolute belter – the only people not in it by the time it crossed the Quins try line were Ruth Barton, Paula Cooper and Wing Emma Dann. It was unfortunately held up but if Welsh weren’t fired up before they sure were now! The resultant goal line drop out was charged down by hooker Louise Norris and picked up by No8 Zoe Jeanes who crashed over to score. 15-7
Quins manage to get another try back and convert to bring the scores to 15-14.
Welsh kept at it. They were still trying to stick to the game plan despite being a player down in both the forwards and the backs. Some excellent interplay between flanker – but now playing outside centre – Kat Lee and Rhiannon Owen saw Welsh make progress up the touchline with a final pass putting Paula Cooper into space up the touchline fending off 2 defenders, she was finally tackled around the Quins 22 resulting in a Welsh lineout. The resultant play saw the ball moved across the pitch with both forwards and backs equally involved. A great bit of interplay from second row Anita Morgan, Centre Isia Storey with Wing Emma Dann finishing it off with a strong run to dot down in the corner which brought up the Bonus point try! 20 – 14
It was inevitable that the Welsh defence would eventually start to tire and Quins made use of their extra numbers out wide to get around the outside of the Welsh defence to score. Some vailiant chasing back kept the conversion attempt out wide and it was missed 20-19
We were finally into the last 5 mins of what felt like a marathon game. Welsh were still pressing but there were some tired bodies out there now and a knock on just to the left of the Quins post in their 22 saw a scrum to Quins. The Welsh pack of 7 forwards drove Quins off their ball with No8 Zoe Jeans coming up with the ball and driving forward. The ball was recycled several times with Prop Serena Bailey and Alice Gayner making hard yards and then Centre Isia Storey and Emma Dann Linking up down the right wing to see Emma dot down in the corner for her second try of the game, securing the try bonus point. Rhiannon Owen took every second she could to take the conversion kick which saw the clock turn 80 and Welsh take a hard fought win 25-19.
Try Scorers: Cassie Beynon, Carys Evans, Zoë Jeanes, Emma Dann x 2
Forward of the match: Zoe Jeanes
Back of the match: Emma Dann
Player of the Match (selected by Terwyn Williams) : Zoe Jeanes
Welsh next take on Reading away on Sunday 16 October.