With their league match cancelled, Ashfield Ladies played higher-league Bletchley Ladies in a friendly at Larwood Park on Sunday.
Bletchley, who won 40-15, immediately put their stamp on the game, capitalising on a fumbled catch by Ashfield at the kick-off, winning the scrum and getting the ball out to the backs to run in a converted try.
Ashfield raised their game, scrummaging well and kicking intelligently, with inside centre Lauren Dearing constantly adding to her tackle count.
However, Bletchley’s counter-attack was strong and a clever offload from a second row forward to one of the backs led to a second try.
Another fine conversion gave the visitors a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
Ashfield hit back and demonstrated their ability to play good rugby.
The kick-off found them in Bletchley’s 22 and all the home players worked hard to keep play there.
Flanker Eve Byrne’s lineout throwing was consistently accurate and supported by fine lifting.
Strong running and good handling, especially from Chip Harrison at hooker and Shannon Poxon at second row, took the ball to number eight and players’ player Leanne Reeves, who powered over to reduce the deficit to 14-5.
Ashfield continued to dominate with second row Tina Green stealing the Bletchley lineout, prop Mandy Taylor charging through the defence and offloading to sprightly Bek Daft, the coach’s player and scrum half, who darted through until she was bundled into touch.
A lineout on Bletchley’s five-metre line was well caught by flanker Vicki Fegan, taken off her by prop Amy Brewer and, from the following maul directed by Reeves, the latter saw a gap to score her second try.
In the third quarter, Ashfield changed their team and Bletchley scored three tries in 15 minutes, taking the score to 33-10. They then made it 40-10 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Ashfield worked hard in both attack and defence and when Reeves turned the ball over, Daft kicked the ball over Bletchley to set up a home try.
The subsequent chase by Fegan, now at fly half, led to Bletchley not releasing the ball and Daft seized the opportunity, quickly tapping the penalty to fly over.
On Sunday, Ashfield welcome Old Leamingtonians to Larwood Park. To try the sport, email ashfieldladies firstname.lastname@example.org