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04/11/07 - London Welsh v Harlequins (38-10)

4/11/07: London Welsh WRFC 38 – 10 Harlequins Ladies


A warmish sunny day at ODP and after a welcome lie-in Welsh were looking to build on the home win over Wasps II (and forget about the rain-lashed nightmare at Hove last week). Kick-off was into the sun but there was good chasing and pressure on the Harlequins catchers from the back row. Welsh got the opportunity to test out some unused combinations in the scrum and lineout, and the latter worked particularly well, with Grandma, Erica and the lifters putting a lot of pressure on the Quins throw-ins and the tail cleaning up nicely. Particular credit to Lucy and Erica for playing very well out of their preferred positions in the front row.

There seemed to be quite a lot of set-pieces, but this might just be because I spend most of the game in said set pieces looking at either the opposing front row or Grandma's shorts, and let's face it, that's rarely going to be a pretty or memorable sight. It might however, be good to point out at this stage that Maria (ex-captain, has been seen following a first-team coach around) was no doubt doing something spectacular. Wolfie may have passed, and I'm even assured that Miriam did a spectacular crossfield kick, but I probably had my face in the mud (reasonably dry, a good firmness with a sandy aftertaste this week) at that point and can't say I noticed.

After about 20mins Welsh had worked the ball into the Quins 22 (there may have been kicking involved) and the opposition were sucked into a breakdown on one side of the pitch, leaving the Welsh backline (lovely hands) to spread it wide to Jane. She was inches short of the line when a scrambling Quins defender tackled her around chin height and a penalty try was awarded. Paula a.k.a. 'Chris Paterson' duly converted from in front of the posts and there was great joy amongst the masses, until Gez decided that wasn't enough of a cliché and added some more rugby-relevant ones. 7-0 to Welsh.

After this Quins put a lot of pressure on the Welsh scrum and managed to come back at us. They scored one through the backs, and then another through a sidestep on a mismatch in the 22. Neither was converted, leaving Welsh 7-10 down with not long until half time. Through a great team effort and some lovely kicks for touch, Welsh camped in the Quins 22 and really pushed to exploit the dominance in the lineout and a growing stability in the scrums. There were several penalties in front of the posts, including one when the Quins scrum-half mullered Miriam from an offside position. With only seconds to go before half-time, Wolfie gave the ball to 'Points' Cooper who totally nailed the three-pointer to leave the score at 10-10 on the whistle.

Half-time saw the clichés come out, but by then Welsh were starting to focus on their game and making the most of opportunities to dominate with the pack and exploit the space(s not faces).
 
Leah had obviously been listening as she caught the ball from the restart and took off like a bat out of hell, and there was great supporting play to take the ball up to the Quins 22 and Wolfie ran round and under the posts. Paula converted again to take Welsh to 17-10.
 
More sustained pressure from Welsh and some great runs from Gemma (off Maria, chairman of CASC, qualified accountant) and Paula, saw Wolfie exploit the space to score again. Needless to say the points machine converted again to give Welsh some breathing space, 24-10.
 
Welsh took the opportunity to play their own game and were soon back in Quins 22, pushing for the line. After several attempts were held up, some excellent crash running and rucking meant Ruth was calling the space on the right and she offloaded beautifully to Nic, who decided against the crash-ball and simply ran round the Quins defence to put her case for starting on the wing (watch out Erica), as well as scoring her first 15s try for LW. Do I need to say anything about the conversion now? 31-10.

After this Welsh pushed for the try but were frustrated by little mistakes, at one stage finding themselves retreating into unfamiliar territory, i.e. their own half. Helen (on for Miriam with the resultant reshuffle) and Linda made some excellent runs, ably supported by newcomer Berta (apparently very Bridie-esque / gung-ho), and Welsh pushed play back down the pitch. More strong running from Gemma off Maria (joint-tour organiser, forming a PS3 rock-band: auditions welcome although watch out for the weird food), and good hands through what felt like the entire team put Wolfie over under the posts for the bonus-point try. With the conversion making a 100% success rate for PC PCPC (apparently her mum isn't so keen, I think it's great), the game ended 38-10 to Welsh. The second half-improvement was fantastic and full credit to every player for working hard to turn the game around; it was a great team effort.

Things I haven't mentioned already; Mazza (a.k.a. Maria, fly-half, good entertainment value) did some mauling in the second half and decided it was not to her liking – probably no-one was listening to her when she told them what to do.
After the game Grandma took off as fast as anyone's seen her move (I suspect some new-fangled kind of motorised Zimmer frame) to go on holiday to scare Springboks and other unsuspecting wildlife. The food was excellent and long may it continue. Gemma and Paula were voted forward and back of the match respectively and both nominated, meaning that Helen and Leah, accompanied by Nic for a first try, completed the rout by winning the boat race by several miles. The Richmond FC fireworks (£8pp) were then enjoyed free of charge from the LW clubhouse by those hardcore enough to stay out until 6.45pm.

Team: Paula (1P, 5C), Linda, Wolfie (captain) (3T), Ruth, Jane; Maria, Miriam; Kim, Lucy, Erica, Bryony, Nic (1T), Leah, Beth, Gemma
Subs (all used): Berta, Helen, Kat

Maria (has a very nice car, dislikes mess), that's 5 mentions, that must be at least £50?

 

 
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