Tight Game - National Cup
By Ben Livings
National Cup- Round 4
Fixture: Plymstock Albion Oaks RFC vs Gordano RFC Ladies (Piranhas)
Venue: Horsham Fields
Competition: Ladies Junior National Cup
Making it to the 3rd round of the cup and into the last 16 in country the Piranhas had done brilliantly to reach this far in the tournament already, however before them was a large hill to climb in the form of Plymstock who are undefeated this season, having won 6 from 6 in their league and by some fairly large margins at that. This team knew their game.
It was a cracking day for rugby, with limp flags and dry-grass aplenty. A mass of spectators lined the pitch side and the lively bus load from Gordano were eager to see their ladies stand up to the challenge.
Both teams looked to have well populated squads and were calm and composed during the warm-up. Plymstock’s pack was certainly carrying more weight than Gordano so some hard-running rugby was expected.
Kick off towards Gordano who were playing up the hill. A steady catch of the ball was proceeded by a substantial amount of Plymstock players piling into the ruck but only a couple of phases later their player entered though the side awarding Gords the penalty. Not long later the ball was lost and, as expected, the Plymstock ladies started to making use of their big runners to make consistent ground leading to a try in the wide channel after 3 minutes of play. Conversion missed.
5 – 0
Multiple handling errors from Plymstock gave Gords some ball to play with and they made good ground up the right side of the pitch. A penalty taken quickly by Holden at 8 was squandered shortly after when a penalty was given back against them for not releasing. Plymstock were back in the territory game and found decent yards through some old-fashioned driving scrums. They capitalised on this and as Gords were staunchly defending their own try-line a penalty and yellow card was given to winger Edenbrow for a ‘slap-down’ offence. Perhaps a little harsh but such decision making can prove decisive in these areas of the game. Plymstock bundle it over from the penalty for their second try in the same right-hand region as the first. Conversion missed.
10 – 0
The Piranhas come back and retain possession and win multiple penalties around the breakdown, making their way sure-footedly upfield with a yellow eventually given to Plymstock’s No.3 at the 25-minute mark. A scrappy period of play followed with messy phases and turnovers abound, possession to-ing and fro-ing however Gordano eventually get a grip of the ball, keeping it close in the forwards and captain Cath scoring it under the posts. Lisa slots the simple conversion.
10 – 7
The home side manage to camp back down in Gordano’s half, teasing the try line for about 7 minutes, however the Piranhas were finding their bite and openside Nina, who had been handy throughout the match, managed to turn over. The counter attack is eventually foiled by a knock on and Plymstock, using their main weapon, regain the ball.
A few more scrums later and we see some solid ground made by Gordano up the centre field through Izzy assisted by the centres. Unfortunately, it was not to be and a dropped ball takes us into half time.
HT: An entertaining first half between two rather contrasting sides. Plymstock as expected possess strong forward runners and know how to use them well. Gordano on the other hand not backing down and once the ball gets out to the backs there is potential for points to be had.
The start of the first half did not disappoint as we saw Holden taking the initiative again, working well with her forwards to score from their kick off towards Plymstock. Conversion missed.
10 - 12
A team perhaps not so used to such spirited opposition, the Plymstock ladies took note and reclaimed the ball from their kick off, managing, for the first time this match, to spread the ball out wide. A succession of rumbling forward carries marches the Gords defence back uphill and securing the score a few yards from the post. The Plymstock kicker again unable to convert the try.
15 – 12
After a few changes of hands we see a dominant tackle by Izzy giving us a Gordano throw in at the line-out. An exit kick gives Plymstock the possession again and they waste no time in starting a full-blown siege on the Piranhas line. The defence held strong for 5 minutes but the repeat battering broke through and gave Plymstock an extension to their lead, with what could be a crucial conversion missed.
20 – 12
As both teams were starting to tire the home forwards stick to what they know, keeping it in hand to march uphill. A bit of a deadlock ensued, eventually broken by a Gords turnover and kick away. The kick was well taken by Plymstock’s 15. Handling errors gave Gords a scrummage just inside their 22. A long way to run but a crucial platform to retake the game. A strong attack through the hands of the backs lead to a turn over in centre pitch followed by a penalty given. The Piranhas however were throwing everything they have and another turnover is ferreted out, spread wide and kicked downfield. Cerys, having scooped the fumbled pick-up, opened up the Gordano back line again and a score looked certain. A Plymstock player did well to rush across the field to make a try saving tackle but use of a WWE style move (see: RKO) on the attacking 12 rightfully forced the referee to award a penalty try.
20 – 19 Game on!
With only mere minutes left on the clock it was frustrating to see Gordano lose possession from the kick off and Plymstock use simple phase play to run down the clock. A kick off-field ends the encounter and the Plymstock ladies jump for joy in a well fought victory.
They don’t come much closer than that. Gordano did well to find their game against a clearly well-oiled machine and there is much promise going forward.
Ladies of match: No.7 Nina for Gordano
No.15 for Plymstock for taking numerous high balls very well and repeatedly winning turnovers.