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After much hard work and preparation over the first few weeks of term, women’s rugby faced their first game of the season away against Keele University on Wednesday of Week 4. The club has been fortunate enough to gain over twenty-five new members this year in addition to over twenty players continuing from last year. Many of the girls who have joined the club have no previous rugby experience, so its been vital for the team to give the new recruits a thorough understanding of the game before they made their debut on the field in the first fixture.
Last year, Keele University proved to be quite an even match with Lancaster, with both teams securing victory when facing each other at their home grounds. With half a squad of new players, some of whom had never before played a competitive game of rugby, Lancaster got out onto the wet field and began their pre-match warm-ups.
The game began with Keele kicking to Lancaster. Within ten seconds Lancaster’s number ten and designated kicker went down with an ankle injury, a setback for the reds. The disadvantage didn’t show in Lancaster’s game though as they ran at Keele with force. A confident run from Lizzy Goldsbrough, weaving between Keele’s defensive line, landed her with Lancaster’s first try. A missed kick made the score 5-0 to Lancaster.
For most of the remainder of the first half, the teams seemed to cancel each other out. Keele came back fighting after conceding the first try, running at their opposition hard, but struggled to get into Lancaster’s twenty-two through their solid defence. A few minutes before the half-time whistle, Lancaster made it 10-0 with a try from Abi Graham, who ran it in under the posts, meaning a less difficult conversion. Lancaster were unable to secure the extra two points however, with the kick unfortunately hitting the post.
The first few minutes of the second half saw Lancaster further their lead with a second try from Lizzy Goldsbrough, making it 15-0 to the reds, with a third missed conversion. Despite the score, Keele did not seem disheartened and fought back hard, testing Lancaster’s defensive line. Lancaster then suffered an abundance of injuries to key players in a short space of time, leaving cracks in their line and Keele managed to get a try back. Keele also failing to kick their conversion made it 15-5 to Lancaster. The home team didn’t stop there, pushing on and securing a second try, 15-10 to Lancaster.
After managing to get a couple of the injured players back on the field and in the game, Lancaster began to look stronger once again. They continued to face a great deal of pressure from the opposition, but a succession of strong tackles meant that they could hold them off until the final whistle. The fixture ended 15-10 to Lancaster.