After a few weeks of miserable weather, it was a joy to see a warm, sunny afternoon at Hove. The two teams produced some rugby to match with both sides putting together some excellent flowing moves.
Guildfordians were a late substitute – our original opponents having to play a re-arranged cup tie. They turned up with just eight players, so Hove lent them three of our girls to make it an 11-a-side game. Leonor, playing in the opposition colours, enjoyed herself hugely, scoring two tries and putting some excellent tackles on her team mates.
Hove, as is their unfortunate habit, conceded straight from kick-off. They didn't learn their lesson and let in two more tries before waking up. They finally found their feet, with, Lara making a storming run from her 22 and feeding Beth, who streaked away for her first try of the season.
Guildfordians kept plugging away and, despite some resolute tackling from Hannah, Saige and Zoe, the visitors scored three more times, leaving Hove trailing 36-5 at half-time.
Hove had been too slow to the loose ball and had been losing their own rucks in the first half but they took the field with some new determination and started ratting up their own tries. Zoe, (twice), Samala scored and Leonor, having scored two for the opposition, scored three for Hove. In the last minute, Hove broke from their own half with Rhiannon, she was tackled but Amelia picked up the ball and touched down to make the scores level. Sophie missed the conversation, so it ended all square, a fantastic turnaround.
Hove showed what potential they had with the ball in hand. Lara made several powerful runs (and shared goal kicking duties with Sophie), Saige was a constant threat and Sophie Wells showed some real vision (and no mean kicking skills). Plaudits too for Rhiannon who put in some excellent tackles and was a real force going forward – she was also pretty adept at plucking the high ball out of the air. And there was great running from Beth and Samala, playing only her third game. Not only did she score but she put in some good tackles and offered unflagging support for the Hove ball carriers.
Leonor, who scored five tries in total. was named player of the match, but all of Hove deserved praise for their fightback – particularly when the team was missing five experienced hands (three of them county players). Guildfordians were also deserving of our thanks, not only stepping in to provide us with a game but playing with some real flair and in the right spirit.
There’s been steady improvement over the season by these girls. There’s still work to do on their tackling and rucking but when they have the ball in hand, they’re a match for anybody.