Biggleswade Ladies narrowly miss out on win7th February 2018
Bishops Stortford Ladies 12 Biggleswade Ladies 10
Biggleswade Ladies’ latest away friendly saw the team put in a hugely competitive display against Bishops Stortford, in a match they were unlucky to lose.
Newly-established side Biggy were determined to carry their hard work from recent training sessions onto the pitch, and the result was a far more disciplined team performance than in previous games.
From the kick-off it was clear Biggy were here to give league side Stortford a proper contest, and the forwards led the charge, gaining ground with phase after phase of strong carries and battling rucks.
The early high-tempo charges gave Biggy’s confidence a boost, and players really stepped up their work rate and aggression.
With big hits going in, and only one (slightly over-excited) sub on the bench, Biggy’s fitness levels needed to be good and the ladies kept the energy levels up for the entire match.
Every element of Biggy’s game saw an improvement from previous matches. Their defensive line was far more organised, with the team pressing forward together and putting pressure on their opposition; scrums were solid and got stronger as the match went on; lineout ball was good, and flanker Emma Merrett was in fine jumping form.
Influential Biggy player Amy Schiller was away watching the Six Nations in Paris, so Sarah Ashby pulled on the Number 8 shirt for the first time, putting in a really gutsy shift in an unfamiliar position.
The commitment of the team was demonstrated when scrum-half Teri Taylor burst through the gain line on a storming run and, instead of finding herself isolated as in some of the team’s recent friendlies, was caught up by support runners helping to protect and retain the ball.
Two breakaway tries from Stortford’s speedy No 13 saw the scoreline go the wrong way. But, recognising the threat, and determined not to let the home side notch up any more points, Biggleswade stepped up their defence, making it difficult for the opposition to feed the ball out wide.
Biggy’s pressure and possession deserved points, and they finally came when captain and fly-half Charlie Field scored a try from an alert pick and go after several phases of forward pod pressure.
Biggy winger Ellie Reeve was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet after running two thirds of the length of the pitch before being caught just a metre from the try line.
It looked like Biggy had scored again when Teri Taylor grounded the ball, only to realise the ref had already blown up for an earlier knock-on. (Teri later had to go off with a knee injury, which meant battling hooker Zaria Bettles, herself carrying a knock, filled in as centre in a reshuffled back line).
A long-awaited second try did come, this time from lock Claire Watson, who bulldozed over the line after more sustained Biggy pressure. She earned herself Forward Of The Match for a game that saw her relentlessly running at and through the Stortford forwards (on one notable occasion ending up with four opposition players hanging off her).
Back Of The Match was Anna Kolanczyk, playing at full back, who dealt calmly with some strong Stortford kicks, gathering high balls neatly, sidestepping tackles and turning defence into attack on several occasions.
Special mention must also go to ninja ginge flanker Rachel Poulson, who put in a typically skilled and committed forward performance in what was her last match for the club as she is moving out of the area. She’ll be greatly missed. She was sent on her way with a bottle of Bulldog gin and her own verse in the now traditional Biggy Ladies after-match song.
Final score: Bishops Stortford Ladies 12 Biggleswade Ladies 10
Photo by @Graham Willson – Stort Images
Photo by Carl Wolfenden
Featured image courtesy of Carl Wolfenden