Hove fail to get to grips with Worthing ... and the weather
Bitter result in the bitter cold
Our new girls who signed up for rugby in the height of the summer have probably never experienced a day like this. It was rugby in the raw and, sadly, for Hove, it was the type of conditions that played into Worthing’s hands. It was the grandly named Sussex Plate final – the match to decide the third best team in Sussex – and there was little doubt which team had earned that honour.
Hove kicked off, within seconds Worthing were over the try-line. Hove kicked off again, and within seconds Worthing were over the try line again. For the first one, Katie put in a great tackle, for the second Vicky did but both times Worthing recycled the ball quickly to score. It pretty much set the tone for the game, Worthing were dominant in attack and when tackled, they recycled the ball quickly.
Hove stared creeping back: a good attack set up by a break from Zoe broke down when Hove knocked on. Worthing gathered and raced through in numbers and despite some heroic tackling from Cluny and Fionna, Worthing scored again.
Play settled down and Hove started competing: a good sweeping move fed the ball to Vicky who kicked into the Worthing half, the full back dropped the ball, seen by everyone but the ref: Hove briefly stopped, expecting the whistle and Worthing took advantage to score. Hove came back again, knocked on again and Worthing completed a good backs move by scoring in the corner.
Another Worthing move was held up some strong defence but when Hove won the subsequent scrum, it was fed behind the try-line and a move by the backs ended when the ball was dropped, enabling Worthing to score the simplest of tries. That finished the half with the score at 46-0.
Despite the scoreline, Hove started the second half with some determination but runs from Rose and Eve came to nothing as there were no support runners. But Worthing weren’t finding it so easy to get back into the game: there was some terrific tackling from Rose, Cluny and Fionna and sporadic attacks by Hove. Eventually Worthing scored again ... and again. By now, Hove were down to 13 players and the tackling was beginning to take its toll. But Hove were still competing strongly, urged on by Lana, playing the captain’s part to perfection - Rose, Saige and Eve all made breaks, only for Worthing to regain the ball.
In the last five minutes, Hove were on their last legs and Worthing ran in four tries, all converted, in quick succession: Hove had nothing left in response.
Credit is due to the 13 girls left on the pitch: offered the chance to end the game early, they kept going till the bitter end. It shows they were made of the right stuff.
Worthing named Rose as player of the match but there some good performances all round the pitch Mia was constantly looking for gaps, and put in the tackles too. Cluny and Fionna tackled like demons (as did Vicky and Hannah, before they went off). And Saige, Eve and Lana never gave up.
The story for Hove this season is always the same: conceding tries straight from kick-off and a failure to secure our own ball from rucks. In this game, we added another one, too many knock-ons, partly thanks to an inability to get to grips with the cold. On the positive side, we held our scrums (or most of them, anyway) and, for the first time this season, took one against the head – Fionna making an assured debut at hooker.
In truth, the scoreline didn’t really reflect the game, something emphasised by the Worthing coach. Apart from the opening period and the last five minutes, Hove competed strongly. But when a side is 24-0 down in the first five or six minutes, it’s always going to be fighting a losing battle. The only hope is that the opponents weaken, but Hove came up against resolute defenders and a team who always seemed to have a player in support. The girls will have learned a lot from this game, not least, how to dress warmer for winter.