With a tight game predicted for the women, UoNWRFC pulled out all the stops to get that vital win in the rain at Lady Bay extending Uni’s lead to 8-5 in the series.
Uni of put out a strong team to face Trent, who they had lost to in their previous match, and finished below in the league table by a single point. Vital players like Emma Lumley and Violet Coppin in the backs, and second-rows Kaitlin Mapplethorpe and Cat Thomas in the forwards ensured that Nottingham threatened in all areas of the game.
A huge team effort saw an early try by Nottingham’s Cat Thomas put them on the scoreboard, with winger Samantha Moore slotting over the conversion despite unfavourable conditions. The first try from Nottingham set the tone of the game that saw Uni of controlling almost every aspect down to a clinical level.
Knock-ons and handling errors were naturally seen in the rainy conditions, allowing Trent some valuable ball time to break through the ranks of Nottingham and send Carys Williams over the try line. A conversion from Trent saw Trent hit right back making the score 7-7.
The girls upped their work effort and the missing man was barely noticed in a well-drilled Uni of side
Uni of camped out deep in Trent’s 22 for 10 long minutes with the ball exchanging sides without ground being made. Finally, decisive action from Uni of saw Cat Thomas storm over the line again with her second try of the game.
But not one to take it sitting down, NTU’s Georgia Bradley opened the gas and streaked round the outside of Uni of’s defence placing one under the posts. A vital missed conversion put the score at 14-12 to Uni.
After this a series of penalties from Nottingham saw the girls in green and gold take a yellow just before half time, taking them down to fourteen men. But the girls upped their work effort and the missing man was barely noticed in a well-drilled Uni of side.
Having gained a slight lead in the first half, Uni of had to dig deep in the second half and retain focus. Several handling errors in the opening minutes of the second half saw the ball exchanged sides multiple times and little ground being made on either side.
Finally, combined forward play after some time in Trent’s 22 saw Uni’s Gemma Robinson go over the line and score. The conversion was missed making the score 19-12 to Uni.
An unstoppable Uni of maul from a line out saw them drive across the pitch with Trent unable to find the strength to stop them. Decisive backs play then saw the ball into the hands of young talent Aoife Fehilly and over the line, taking the score up to 24-12.
Attempts by Trent to close the score line were seen in the last 20 minutes of the game, with a game plan of champagne rugby exposing gaps in the Uni defence and again Trent slipped through, but a chase by Emma Lumley and excellent covering tackle by Aoife Fehilly stopped them in their tracks.
A sin-binning for Trent after this seemed to signal the closing of the game, with Uni appearing to be the clear winners. A penalty near the try line in the dying minutes of the game almost saw another score by Uni, but it was held up, leaving the score at 24-12 to Uni.
Man of the match was final year, second row Cat Thomas for her two tries and high work rate throughout the game.
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Images: dgtl Concepts photographer Jack Gunter