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After suffering defeat in the women’s rugby sevens seconds, it was time for the firsts to avenge their fellow Lancastrians in a highly awaited contest. SCAN arrived to see both sets of teams engaged in vast warm ups, with Lancaster’s Captain Emma Pryor motivating the side on for success.
It was 2:30pm. The teams were ready, the stage was set. 14 minutes of intense, all action rugby by the seven players on each team.
The game kicked off and the intensity was clearly evident, with both sides flying into some strong tackles immediately. The York girls took the early initiative and began to drive at Lancaster. It took just 2 minutes for York’s early pressure to pay off, following a ruck over, the ball was popped out wide for the speedy Juliette Carter of York to drive over the try-line. However, luckily for Lancaster, the ref had called for a forward pass, meaning the try was disallowed. A let off for Lancaster after a sloppy start.
Lancaster took spirit from this; however York withstood the pressure, and after winning the ball back, a pass out wide to the rapid Carter enabled her to exploit her main asset and race away from the Lancaster back line to score. This time, unfortunately, no forward pass and the try stood. First blood to York. The score line wasn’t increased though as the conversion, slightly wide of the posts, was missed.
York then took spirit from this and their game plan was clear: to get as much of an early advantage as possible. York came at Lancaster again, and consecutive ruck overs were won by York deep in the Lancaster half, allowing them to push further and further forward. Lancaster had opportunities to clear their lines, however York’s aggressive pressure denied this, as breakaways were quickly stopped by strong tackles. Despite initially taking the pressure, the ball was again popped out to Carter; a constant feature of York’s game, who drove it beyond the line.
Once again, the York kicker could not increase the advantage.
Lancaster couldn’t wait for half time to come, especially as York added a third just before half time to complete a first half hat-trick of tries. Once again, her try was not rounded off as it appeared the York kicker had left her shooting boots at home. York’s early pressure and first half dominance enabled them to go in 15-0 up at the break.
Lancaster used this half time interval to regroup and fire each other up for the second half, and they were by no means out of the game.
The second half began and Lancaster came out with a different mind-set: to go at York with nothing to lose. This was evident in the strong early challenges by Lancaster. As Lancaster’s 7 drove forward early on, they were always vulnerable to the counter attack, and once more the pace of Carter allowed her to hit Lancaster on the break following a turnover in possession. She helped out her kicker this time by running directly in between the posts, giving her a central kick and this time she scored. 22-0 to York.
Lancaster then decided to go all out and try and muster a comeback, there was still time. Some strong challenges and clever wing play by Lancaster enabled Megan Brown to get in behind York and get a try back for Lancaster, which lifted the crowd who began spurring the girls on in belief of an incredible comeback. The conversion was missed but it didn’t matter as Lancaster had hope.
York were tired and Lancaster could smell blood.
Immediately after, Lancaster drove into York and Abi Graham raced through the try-line and Megan Brown showed the York kicker how it’s done by converted to bring it back to 22-12 to York. Lancaster grew with confidence of achieving this heroic comeback, and the fans we’re in full voice in encouragement.
Lancaster pressed and pressed but, it proved too little too late with the half only 7 minutes long. The full time whistle was called to the relief of York, who were beginning to let it slip as Lancaster mounted this comeback. If the game were to go on for longer, I am certain that Lancaster would have pegged York back further.
22-12 seems a tad harsh on Lancaster, who gave a valiant effort in the second half but it was the poor start which inevitably let them down.
After the game victorious York captain Thulani Kimbugwe stated: “It’s the first time we’ve won both sevens for a while so we’re very pleased with our efforts”
Lancaster can take great spirit form this defeat: Roll on Roses 2016!