Champions! Rutland seal league title in style

Rutland Hockey Club Ladies 1st XI on the day they sealed the 2012-13 Cambridgeshire league title
Rutland Hockey Club Ladies 1st XI on the day they sealed the 2012-13 Cambridgeshire league title

Rutland Hockey Club’s ladies have sealed the Cambridgeshire title with a thumping 9-0 victory against Cambridge South on Sunday.

Their title-clinching win came just 24 hours after beating Huntingdon 3-0 to beat Wisbech Town’s 2nd XI to the Premier Division title.

Rutland dominated the early exchanges in the first of their season-defining double-header at Huntingdon with Alice Page scoring a hat-trick.

When the hosts did threaten on the occasional counter, it was often up to Katie Richardson, skippering at left full back to snuff out the danger. Her cool head and subtle use of possession had a positive influence on young Charlie Gregg alongside her in the Rutland defence, who began to thread passes through to Issy Chedd and Rachel Richardson higher up the pitch.

Chances began to appear and after quarter of an hour, Page, whose movement caused the opposition problems throughout, swept one high into the left corner to give the Rutlanders the lead.

As spaces opened up in the second half, Page scored another after a splendid steal, thrust and cutback from Maeve MacDonald.

Page scored her third with a composed spin and reverse-stick strike.

With a three goal cushion, Rutland made some switches to rest legs ahead of Sunday’s title-decider at Cambridge South, where they knew that victory would secure the crown regardless of the result at the Wisbech -St Ives fixture being played at the same time.

Rutland were on the attack from the off with a front trio of Page, Anne Pollock and Penny Skipper all using their pace to get behind South’s rearguard.

The hosts’ goalkeeper made several fine stops early on but it didn’t take the Rutland side long to realise that going over, rather than through, a keeper lying on the ground might be the way to go.

Pollock gave them the lead with a calm flicked finish, before Page made and finished the second with a repeat of the excellent reverse stick goal from the day before.

With a clear lead, Rutland were in control of the match and began to dominate possession. Maria Barefoot and Katie Richardson began to play long, cross-pitch passes, bypassing the opposition’s narrow press and giving Sarah Sissins and Skipper plenty of space to attack. A further Pollock goal took the half time score to a nerve-settling 3-0.

As the Cambridge team tired in the second half, Rutland dictated the game further with Kim Cooil playing a greater role in the heart of the midfield. Jennifer Pollock, who has captained the 2nd X1 successfully this year, joined her younger sister on the scoresheet, finishing one team move superbly dummying one way and shooting the other.

Rachel Richardson then got in on the act, first with a straight strike from the top of the circle, converting a quickly taken free-hit, before then slotting in from a short corner.

Composed defensive work from Tracey Taylor ensured that Cambridge South rarely made it into the Rutland half, and before the end there was time for further Rutland goals, including the final say from captain, Katie Richardson.

Coach Simon Cooper said: “The likes of the Richardsons, Anne Pollock and Kim Cooil have really driven the team forward this year.

“It is certainly a wonderful achievement for the club, having secured three promotions in three years.

“This just shows the development of the side and, with the comprehensive nature of victory, perhaps the potential to go even higher in the next league.”

The players were quick to thank Cooper and captain Katie Richardson for the long hours put into organising a hectic season.