Match report LW Women v Battersea Ironsides

On Sunday 16th January, LW Women headed to Battersea to take on unbeaten league leaders Battersea Ironsides.  This was a huge game for Welsh, after suffering a heavy defeat from Ironsides at the start of the season.
A couple of pre match day injuries saw LW down to a squad of 21, but all were very determined that this match was going to show the strength and aggression the side is capable of.  It was a beautiful day for rugby, cold but bright and sunny.  Ironsides chose ends, meaning London Welsh were playing into the sun for the first half.  Paula Cooper kicked off the match and the Battersea receiver was taken down very quickly by flanker Kat Lee.   Battersea’s ruck speed was excellent though and despite Welsh pushing them closer to the side-lines, a breakaway try from their wing meant them taking an early 5-0 lead. 
Captain Nat Smith ensured that London Welsh regrouped and from the restart the battle continued with London Welsh dominating in the set piece, especially the scrums.  The team’s defensive line was solid, with huge tackles being put in by Cassie Beynon and Kat Lee. Welsh’s forwards carried incredibly well, with fantastic breaks from Hannah Garbett , Hannah Clarke and Zoe Jeanes.  Rucking was much improved and the likes of Alice Gayner and Gemma Swain ensuring a great platform for our back line to make ground.   This led to our own pace down the wing and Cassie going over in the corner to level the score to 5-5.
Welsh’s strong centre partnership of Ali Smith and Bianca Sainty ensured Ironsides were not going to get through again and meant even more ground was gained as the half went on. 
Some ill-discipline from Battersea and excellent pressure from Welsh led to a penalty, kicked to touch by Jenni McGivney for a line out.  The set piece worked as practiced on the training pitch and a superb catch and drive led to Nat Smith (sponsored by David Neil & Carol Bonifas)going over for the second try and a score of 10-5 to Welsh.
Both teams continued to fight for the win, with some crunching contact from all involved.  Unfortunately, this led to an injury to 2nd row Gemma Swain, who was replaced by Carys Evans. Battersea fought back hard and an excellent running line from their 15, led to another try bringing things level again at 10-10.
The breakdown became increasingly competitive and, with the majority of forwards involved, full back Allie Elliot-Rouse spied a host of space behind Battersea’s defensive line kicking through to put them back on their own 22.  As Ironsides gained momentum to get out of their 22, Welsh forced another penalty just over half way.  Line out option was taken and yet again a huge drive from the pack led to Zoe (sponsored by Zoe’s Aussie Mates) driving over the line to score Welsh’s 3rd and stretching the lead to 15-10.
Half time and London Welsh in the lead 15-10.  
The second half was very much like the first in terms of aggression,  but also in terms of leading to injuries.  Carys on the receiving end of a very nasty stud injury and suspected broken finger for Serena Bailey.  This led to Lou Norris returning to league rugby after being out injured since before Christmas. 
Battersea were piling on the pressure and despite more great backline defending from Bethan Williams, Ali and Bianca, Ironsides once again got through to score and an excellent nudge from their kicker, once again took them ahead 17-15, much to the delight of Battersea’s huge crowd of supporters which seemed to treble in size from the first half!
London Welsh were determined to stage a comeback and fought hard.  More injuries – this time with Coops leaving the field.  Jemima Venning came on to 9, with scrum half Ruth Barton moving back to the 10 position.  With Jemima and the pack working together, it appeared that Welsh had scored once more in the corner, but to everyone’s disappointment the score was disallowed. Fresh legs were brought on for Welsh on the wing, with Lorrell Watson replacing Cassie, and having some good runs down the line, only to be stopped by a tough Battersea defensive line. 
More heroic defending followed from both sides and as the end of the match approached Battersea, once again managed to slip round the outside and convert the score to make it 24-15.
Welsh made sure to make full use of the bench bringing on Christina Dombrowski to the front row.  The team refused to give up and fought hard, but sadly could not break through Battersea’s defence in the final minutes of the match and the final score was 24-15 to Battersea Ironsides.
London Welsh can be incredibly proud, with everyone from 1 to 21 stepping up and working together to put in a great team performance.
Players of the match:  Back – Cassie Beynon; Forward – Kat Lee  
Thank you as ever, to our team sponsor 2iC and those who sponsor individual players.  
London Welsh Women’s next home fixture is Sun 6th Feb, 2pm kick off, so please do go along to support if you can.


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