Area Cup Final - 5th March 2017
C-Siders 37-19 Ashford
The C-Siders remain relentless in their pursuit of glory in the world of U15s girls' rugby, following a hard-fought 37-19 victory over Ashford. Having swept away Welwyn with a 22 point margin, the girls faced what was expected to be a tougher challenge from the visitors down the M20.
The weather in the days prior to the game made the pitches at Reigate unplayable and the last minute change to Dorking RUFC still presented challenging conditions in which flowing rugby could prove to be difficult.
The C-Siders began the contest in high octane fashion with a kick-off, the ball being taken in by Ashford and then being put under immediate pressure by our forwards. Bella got straight into the thick of things, as usual, and was making strong runs at a very tight Ashford line. Ashford were not afraid of the contact and tackled well. However, at the first ruck, Ashford were pushed off the ball and, through a melee of players and a neat pick up, Hannah opened up the scoring. After the re-start and a series of plays, Ella made a powerful run, burst through the defensive line and touched down for the second try within ten minutes. With the conditions underfoot being very heavy; it was always going to be a tough day for the kickers; but Bella slotted over a lovely kick to take the extras. 12-0.
The girls were clearly fired up for this match, as the commitment to the tackle and the break-down was exceptional. Hard-hitting Ella showed the way with some crunching tackles that needed to be made. Whilst the ever-supportive friends, family and club-mates on the side lines beginning to think that the C-Siders could romp away with the match; Ashford were strong and in no way going to allow this to happen.
The Ashford attack tended to be one-dimensional, at times, with the ball being handed to either the larger girls up front or their clearly talented and strong-running centre. Eventually, the pressure took its toll and Ashford were straight back in the game when their prop crashed over the line after a short-range penalty. A lovely conversion brought Ashford to within five points. 12-7.
Vicky was clearly pleased with the girls putting into practise what they'd been going over on the training pitch. The forwards were finding the spaces and making telling runs, setting up great rucks and, with Megan's pin-point distribution and the great line-speed and handling skills of the backs, the spectators and coaches were being treated to an excellent performance.
From the re-start Bella took a great catch and, running a great line with two very strong hand-offs, ran in a try to re-establish a ten-point lead. 17-7. Now the C-Siders were really getting into their stride and their confidence and belief was building. Becky ran in another try, quickly followed by a lovely try by Mille who combined well with some superb handling and support by Scarlett and Becky to take the score to 22-7. With the mid-way looming and the girls tiring a little; the Kent girls, not deterred by falling behind, came back with another try and conversion to take the score to 27-12 at half-time.
Whatever was said by the coaches in the half-time talk will remain between them and the girls; but the low-scoring second half was all about making the tackles, soaking up the pressure and preventing Ashford gaining any momentum. The spirit shown by the girls was admirable and, even when the clouds opened and delivered a hailstorm, they were focussed and committing to everything. There was no way they were going to allow Ashford back into the game and they did that admirably. With just a single try and a conversion from Ashford and two tries from Ella in the second half; the score ended at 37-19.
With just under 15 minutes to play; Megan and Hannah made way for Madeleine and Sophie who acquitted themselves well.
The platform for so many of the C-Siders' tries is the strong scrum and ruck. The pace of the half-backs and backs who, with close support, so often manage to find a pass, run some great lines and penetrate the strongest of defences. Ashford were no pushover. They were strong in the tackle and had some decent players; so the girls can go into the next match knowing that they can beat a good team. They are now the South East area champions!
There will be many aspects of the game that the coaches will be pleased with and, as ever, will be dealing with any areas of weakness before the girls play in the national semi-finals in a month's time. The girls have character in abundance and are improving game after game, so who knows what lies ahead. One thing of which we can all be certain is that the journey, so far, has been truly wonderful.
Area Cup Semi Final
C Siders 37 - 15 Welwyn RFC
Area 3 Cup Round 2 - Sunday 6th November
C Siders 65 - 5 Wimbledon/Teddington
On Sunday 6th November, the second round of the Area Cup took us to the home of Teddington RFC, yet another picturesque ground set amongst the trees in Bushy Park. It was a beautiful sunny day with the trees providing enough shelter from the cold breeze blowing from the East to make almost perfect playing conditions. Again, we combined with Camberley to play against a side that must have had members from four or five clubs, given the multitude of different socks on display. Let’s call them the Teddington Barbarians. Upon entering Bushy Park; there were signs warning visitors of the deer cull that was being carried out and some of the girls clearly wanted to include the Teddington Barbarians in that as well. They didn’t disappoint.
Kim and Matt led the training session, as before, and after 40 minutes or so, it was time for the kick-off.
With the Teddington Barbarians sending a lovely kick downfield, the game got started and the early signs were that we were not going to have it all our own way with the Barbarians making a strong play down the left wing. However; the tackles were being made and the pressure we put on their backs ensured that the Barbarians didn’t get over the line. The cold had clearly got to the girls’ hands and a series of dropped passes and knock-ons led to the first scrum. The power of our forwards won the scrum and Bella set-off on one of her trademark runs only to be high-tackled. From the ensuing penalty; the ball was worked to Ella who made a strong run to score the first try.
After the re-start, Becky made a strong run down the right wing but, again, was the victim of a high-tackle. The referee then made it clear that he was looking out for any more such tackles and a more serious punishment than a penalty would be handed out if there was any more of it. This, thankfully, seemed to have the required effect and such infringements were absent from the remainder of the game. It was good for the girls, especially the newer ones, to witness this good refereeing and extend their understanding of the game. With the lecture over; the tap penalty was taken from 10 yards out and Bella, yet again, proved that she is difficult to stop from that range and went over for the second try. Caitlin then slotted over a lovely kick to take the full seven points.
With the handling of the ball improving all of the time and fewer mistakes being made; the next quarter of an hour saw Vicky score in the corner and Zoe go over as well. Caitlin did the honours with another lovely conversion. As the first half went on, the game was played mostly in the Barbarians half and it was beginning to look like we were on for another decent win. Scarlett ran in under the posts for another try and, this time, Bella made the extra two points. With the half-time score at 31-0; the girls came off full of confidence.
The second half saw the girls come out and start playing some very good rugby. Perhaps the knowledge that they were well ahead allowed them to play a more flowing game. Who knows? What was clear though, was that the handling was superb, the timing of the passes became intuitive and every time we got possession of the ball there was a feeling that a try was not far away. The first try of the second half came from Milly after four phases of play including a scrum, a couple of rucks and some sublime passing. Bella duly converted. The next try from Bella came from a lovely run by Jay and a lovely weighted pass from Savanna. It was just getting better and better. What was noticeable was how good the girls were keeping the ball alive with lots of popping the ball off the floor and great link-up play.
By half way through the second half; the momentum was so great that it was a one-way tide with Bella storming through for her hat trick and Scarlett running 70 yards from the re-start to touch down beneath the posts.
The Barbarians never gave up and did manage to go over and get themselves on the scoreboard; but it was Vicky who rounded off the day with a well-deserved score. The final whistle blew and the score was 65-5.
With seven try-scorers and both Bella and Caitlin adding to the tally with the conversions; the girls showed just how much strength and depth there is in the side. What is also noticeable from the touchline is the constant support that the girls give each other and how great communication is between them all. It may be early on in the season; but it’s clear that the squad is building in confidence and enjoying playing together. It will be interesting to see how this develops and how the girls fair when the tougher opposition, inevitably, come calling.
With a full complement of 22 girls, there were plenty of opportunities for replacements to be made and all of the girls got some decent pitch-time. As with the previous match; the replacements came on with no break in momentum and the whole squad can be proud of themselves for the way in which they played.
Sunday September 25th - C Siders v's Dorking/Old Riegations
C Siders 51 - 0 Dorking/Old Riegations
Sunday saw this season’s first competitive outing for the U15 girls and what a day it turned out to be.
Vicky and Iain took a squad of eager girls to Dorking RUFC to combine them with girls from Camberley and pit them against the combined team of Dorking and Reigatians in the first pool match of the Area Cup. The weather was dry and sunny and, sat beneath Box Hill with the chalk cliffs as a backdrop, Dorking’s ground on a day like that has to be one of the most picturesque settings of any club in Surrey.
The large number of parents who came to support the girls waited patiently as our girls had a training session led by our own Vicky, Iain and Nathan. With the training over, the starting XV sorted out and the seven substitutes all ready to play their part, the girls got themselves into a huddle and started to focus. With Vicky’s clear and forthright advice of ‘smash ‘em girls’ and ‘keep it simple’ ringing in their ears; the start of the match was upon them and their enthusiasm to get on the pitch was clear to see.
When a group of players haven’t trained together, let alone played together as a team, goes onto the pitch; there is no way of knowing what will happen and Vicky openly admitted, after the game, that she was nervous. Those nerves were assuaged within the first two minutes. With Dorking kicking off, the ball was cleanly caught and quickly moved along the line out to Scarlett who showed her pace to go on the outside of a somewhat startled Dorking back line to go under the posts for the first try of the game. With our girls quickly out of the blocks and encouraged by the early score; all concerned breathed a little easier.
After the re-start, the ball was taken by Lily who was well-tackled; but used the skills taught on the training pitch and went to ground, presented the ball well and the ball was re-cycled efficiently. There was a late agreement between the teams to have contested scrums and that seemed to enthuse the girls even more. The first scrum was won and this led to another series of passes, putting us firmly in the opposition’s 22. Even when Dorking did manage to gain possession, the pressure we put on their line in their own 22 was too much for them and we often came away with the ball. With all the pressure we exerted, the second try from Vicky came quickly and the girls were clearly settling into the game.
The third try came from Becky after another strong scrum and quick ball from the half-backs and this was successfully converted by Caitlin.
Vicky’s advice of ‘keep it simple’ was clearly working as the fourth try came from a Dorking 22 drop-out. Our catcher was tackled, went to ground, presented the ball perfectly which was then rucked back, passed along the line to Isabella and run in beneath the posts to take the half-time score to 22-0.
With a half-time talk over, the essence of which was ‘more of the same, girls’; the second half started as the first half finished, with Milly running in try number five.
By no means was it one-way traffic. Dorking had possession; but the pressure we put on their backs, our strong tackling, rucking and scrummaging quickly snuffed out any chances and we really started to dominate the game. Big tackles from Eleanor, on one occasion throwing her opposite number into touch, and some battering runs form Ella kept piling on the pressure and, inevitably, four more tries were scored. Imogen with another powerful run, Ella with a lovely interception, and then came the eighth and best try of the game; the ball being moved quickly from Vicky to Hannah, who took the ball at pace to make good ground on the left wing, and then make the final pass to Megan for the touchdown in the corner. A great exhibition of handling and running.
By this time; the Dorking heads were beginning to drop a little, but we were relentless and Becca finished off the try-scoring with a great individual run. Isabella kicked two of the conversion attempts to make the final score 51-0.
Gabby gave a great lesson in the three Rs (rucking, ripping and running!), Megan showed her skills with quick and accurate distribution as well as some darting runs, all of the backs showed their pace, strength and ability to see the gaps in the opposition’s defence, the forwards worked great as a unit and all of this came together and earnt them a well-deserved victory. Let’s not forget that Dorking and Reigate have a number of county players amongst their ranks and to come away with an emphatic victory is a fabulous achievement. Congratulations players and coaches alike.
All of the 22-strong squad were used and the girls happily came on and off when asked to do so with the new arrivals quickly slotting into their positions to maintain the momentum.
This first outing clearly showed that there is a lot of talent in the squad and that the girls can come together effectively to produce a great team performance. The fact that there were nine try-scorers speaks volumes. The coaches will no doubt be pleased with the performance and the result and also to see that the girls used the skills they’ve been practicing at training; but will, no doubt, be pointing our areas where improvements can be made.
After retiring to the clubhouse to eat a hearty meal of chili and rice; we all headed home to reflect on a most enjoyable day.