U15 Girls taught tough lesson by Worthing
But scoreline masks real signs of improvement
Sunday was a big day for female rugby at Hove and the U15s found themselves playing in the curtain raiser for the women’s games. It was a tough first game against an experienced Worthing team but, while there were lessons learned, there were some optimistic signs for the future.
Hove had a big recruitment drive in the summer and brought in quite a few new girls: for some of them it was their first experience of contact rugby and they found themselves on a steep learning curve, but there were some highly encouraging signs by the end of the afternoon.
The match was split into three 20-minute thirds, to allow players to try a variety of different positions, giving us a chance to see how the new players could cope. They had a rude awakening: Worthing caught the ball at the kick off, fed the left winger who raced through to score. It was a shock to Hove but they rallied themselves and held Worthing at bay for 10 minutes – even though most of the match was being played in the Hove half. There was some excellent Hove tackling, particularly from Hannah, Rose and Leonor. But there was also a sterling effort from Alice, putting in a heroic performance in her first ever game.
Worthing pressure finally told when they scored two more tries. From the second of them, Hove repeated their trick of allowing Worthing to score from kick-off when a lock caught it and ran straight through to score.
There was reshuffle at the break and the pack was strengthened – Hove had lost a couple of scrums against the head. But once again, Hove conceded a try in the opening minute, this time after some good forward play. Hove struck this time and, for the first time, spent some time in the Worthing half. Lara made a couple of steals and some good breaks from Amelia and Mia were well defended. Despite our little spell of pressure, Worthing managed to score again when Hove failed to defend a ruck properly. And just before the end of the period, Worthing scored when their number 8 picked up from a 5-metre scrum.
Hove made another reshuffle before the end of the third period and the girls were finally beginning to work as a team. Worthing’s attempt to score an early try was rebuffed when the Hove girls held up a driving maul. After that, Hove girls started to assert themselves and began to retain possession, There was some determined rucking and scavenging from Vicky which, complemented by the scrum-half play of Saige pushed Worthing back. There were two excellent breaks from Lara and Saige that penetrated the Worthing 22 but faltered through lack of support runners – a continual problem for Hove. Just before the end, Leonor broke through, fed Alice who was held up just short of the line.
Despite the score, it was a promising start for the season. The girls were lacking in confidence at the beginning of the game but got better and better. Many of the players were trying new positions for the first time and grew into the game – Sophie (who broke her nose the previous week) played as prop and really got to grips with the position, but all the players picked up the pace and started looking like a team.
The Worthing girls voted Saige the player of the match; she’d played a real captain’s performance, urging the team on. But there were 15 girls out there who all encouraged each other. There’s plenty to work on, but the improvement over the course of the game showed there’s some real skill in the ranks, they need the confidence to go with some undoubted ability.