Stamford Women’s rugby team beat Sleaford Women in first league game
Stamford Women started their league campaign with a very tight and nail-biting 32-31 victory away against local rivals Sleaford Women on Sunday.
The previous encounter between the two teams was in the NLD Trophy final when Stamford coasted to a comfortable win.
A similar win looked likely when in only the fourth minute a Stamford line out in the home team's half saw the ball fed along the line to Jess Gargan who powered over the scoreline only to be held up by the defence.
The quick-thinking Katy Lay gathered the ball from Gargan and touched it down to score Stamford’s first points of the new season. The conversion saw Daisy Attley nudge the ball over the posts to put the away team 7-0 in front.
It took another 15 minutes for the next points to be scored when Sleaford's winger scored a well-taken try in the corner.
Stamford then stepped up the pressure on Sleaford's defence with impressive forays into the home team's half.
In particular the dazzling feet of Lib Ashdown and the strength of Brogan Cranfield led to the away team's next points on the board.
From a penalty 10 metres from the line, scrum-half Georgia Mackinlay fed the ball to the rampaging Nikki Hudson who passed three defensive players as if they were not there and placed the ball over the line.
It took another five minutes for the away team to increase the scoreline when, gathering the ball 15 metres from the Sleaford line, Wati Vitokai used both her brute strength and skills to go through three players, get tackled and quickly pop the ball up to Sammy Pocock who fed it to Anna Gendenning who pressed it down past the line to increase the lead.
The scoreboard was troubled once more before the half ended when the home team ran in a converted try to make the score at the break 17-12 to the purple, black and whites.
Stamford were once again quick off the mark in the second half when the ball was gathered just inside the Sleaford half by Gargan who ran five metres before off-loading to captain Gemma Alcoran who in turn quickly passed the ball to Cranfield.
Cranfield ran a few steps until expertly passing the ball to the nimble Pocock who sprinted over the line and increased the away team's lead. The try was duly converted by Ashdown.
Sleaford found their reserve energy and began to fight back with long spells of sustained pressure on the Stamford defence.
However, it was the away team who scored the next points as Gargan once again led the charge into the Sleaford half before being tackled and expertly off-loading the ball to the fleet-footed Ashdown who initially ran circles around the defensive players before a pinpoint pass to the rampant Jill Boyd who used her strength to power over the line and touch down for her first try for Stamford.
The home team stepped up the pressure and, with Stamford having a player in the sin bin, scored two tries to close the gap on the away team.
Stamford went further ahead courtesy of an Attley penalty, however, the home team were not quite finished and a further try brought Sleaford within a point of their visitors and they still had a penalty to take the lead and ultimately the match.
To the immense relief of the away team and travelling supporters, the conversion failed to go through the posts and the final score stayed at 32-31 to Stamford.
Stamford Women's Rugby, based on Hambleton Road, are offering a 'try it out' session for those interested in giving the game a go.
The event is being held on Tuesday at 7pm. While players do not need to register it does help if they contact the team via social media beforehand to let them know they will be attending.
Members of the women's team alongside the coaching team will be in attendance to run introductory games and activities as well as answer any questions those taking part may have.
No experience is necessary, new and returning players are welcome at this inclusive session. No specialist knowledge or equipment is needed, just turn up in a sports kit suited to the weather, some trainers or boots and bring some water.
Mackenzie Higgins has been playing for around two years and was completely new to rugby when she first came along.
She said: "I moved to Stamford from Canada and chose join the women's rugby team to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. It's been a great way to meet people within the community."
Team captain Gemma Alcoran added: "'I love rugby for its inclusivity.
"It's the only sport that truly has a position for every shape and size. Whatever your skill set there is a position for you.
"From our 18-year-old full-back to our 50-year-old scrum half, we make Stamford Womens Rugby and we play for each other.
"Everything we enjoy and excel at we had to try for the first time once. Make today the day you try rugby for the first time.
"Rugby is a family, it's different to other teams. We need each other. We can't win alone."
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or visit the club's Facebook page.