Horsham Ladies Rugby Score Success
With September drawing to a close, Horsham Ladies Rugby continued their development in a friendly and fun encounter with Crawley at Willoughby Fields. Fielding a range of players from local clubs, the game was played in excellent spirit, with real camaraderie between the teams and a referee who let play flow while guiding the players, especially those who were new to the game.
Although the approach was positive and encouraging, with the ladies clubs’ doing some recent joint training sessions, this was not a match where the ladies held back and the commitment from the opening whistle was fantastic. Crawley seized the early initiative and attacked from the outset, showing some good skills and real power amongst the forwards, taking advantage of a few loose passes from Horsham.
However, despite being under pressure from a significantly larger Crawley pack, the Horsham scrum held firm and the tackling across the team was solid. There were also some fantastic cover tackles to stop Crawley advances, after they had initially broken the defensive line. Horsham repelled attack after attack and as they started to settle, the ladies began to counter with some purposeful running from deep. With coaches Ty encouraging from the touchline and Steve analysing from on high, Horsham began to show the skills and self-confidence and resilience that they have developed. The line out was secure and the handling showed much improvement with twice weekly training clearly paying dividends. Despite a relatively low percentage of possession, and playing almost the entire first quarter in their own half, Horsham’s defensive display kept Crawley at bay. The only downside was an injury to inspirational prop Trish Leferve, who left the field with a head injury.
In the second quarter the offensive improvements continued for Horsham with their distribution and passing progressing, however the power of the Crawley pack in the loose started to pay dividends for the home team. After 25 minutes play and some impressive mauling and forward orientated phases of play from Crawley, the Horsham defence was punctured and the Crawley backs powered over the line out by the left touchline.
From the kick off Horsham closed down Crawley superbly, but again the Crawley pack took over and used some impressive technique and significant power to drive Horsham back towards their own line, before crossing for their second score. The interplay between the Crawley forwards and backs was impressive with some superb running lines. The conversion also flew through the posts to give Crawley a 12 – 0 lead.
Although the Horsham defence had been punctured, the team spirit of the ladies was far from crumbling and their offensive play now started to take off. The forwards began to move the ball more, retain possession and pass more confidently. This led to some impressive Horsham drives and allowed some superb interplay between forwards and backs to take the attack to Crawley. Horsham started to recycle possession and go through the phases. The confidence began to grow and Horsham drove Crawley back into their 22. Surging runs became a feature, as forwards and backs combined to great effect. By moving the larger Crawley forwards around a little more, the more mobile Horsham team also found gaps starting to appear and they were unlucky not to score. Nevertheless Horsham closed the half with some positive play and self belief, despite being 0-12 down at the interval.
After the break Crawley again came on strong and Horsham’s offensive game had to wait as the defence made tackle after tackle as the powerful Crawley pack gained dominance. In the set piece Horsham did well and the Horsham scrum again held firm, however when Crawley moved the ball out wide, they again crossed for an unconverted try that made it 17-0 to the home side.
From the kick off Horsham initially felled the Crawley runners returning the ball, however they quickly recycled the ball, broke free down the left and their full back scored in the corner. As in the first half, after conceding one try, a second had quickly followed as Crawley took a 22-0 lead. Happily for Horsham, the same pattern of a double score was to continue and their own attacking intentions were to come to the fore.
This time Horsham held the Crawley attack from the kick off and won the ball following some superb rucking from the forwards. The ball carriers then started to punch hole after hole in the Crawley defence and took the Horsham team into the Crawley 22. With the forwards moving the ball and sending the runners over the gain line and the backs supporting play and increasing the impetus, Horsham edged towards the try line. Eventually after 57 minutes and several near misses, Wendy Shepherd picked the ball up 7-8 metres out and dived over the try line to score the first ever try for Horsham Ladies Rugby. With the try scorer still on the floor, the reaction of the Horsham team overall was one of utter joy and celebration with screams of delight, ladies jumping in the air and lots of team hugs. Emotions were running high and huge grins of joy were everywhere. Having scored out wide to the right, the try was not converted, but Horsham were on the score board for the first time. Crawley 22, Horsham 5.
Having realised what they were capable of when they moved the ball, Horsham took a more direct approach in their running from the restart as their ascendency continued. The Crawley defence was solid, but Horsham were not to be stopped. After some superb drives and recycling of possession Horsham again score out wide to the right with Ren Shilcock steaming over the line following a superb team passage of play with forwards and backs combining to great effect. Crawley 22, Horsham 10.
Having been under the cosh for almost 15 minutes, it was now time for the Crawley side to again reassert themselves and some excellent ball handling followed with the Horsham defence struggling to cope. The Crawley forwards also held the ball tight to great effect and powered down the field. Having pushed Horsham back into their own 22, the Crawley backs provided the cutting edge as some impressive play from the home side led to a final score from Crawley.
The match ended with both teams happy, a big celebration from the players and a clubhouse full of enraptured supporters who’d enjoyed seeing a great competitive game of rugby.
Final score Crawley Ladies 27, Horsham Ladies 10.