Bletchley Ladies win season opener against Lichfield

Rugby
Rugby

Bletchley Ladies opened their 2019/20 season in style on Sunday with a bonus point win at home to Lichfield.

Lichfield Ladies took the opening kick which was taken cleanly by Beth Peters and driven forward. Bletchley piled on the pressure after an early penalty from their visitors. The penalty kick was knocked on into touch by Lichfield, and Bletchley chose to take the scrum. They passed out from the scrum, then Clare Stacey drove forward to gain more ground. Another strong drive from Jodie Denton gained further ground, then the ball was passed out along the line from the ruck to Betty Susova, who ran it through for Bletchley’s first try. Opening score: 5 – 0, with just four minutes played.

Clare Haines took the catch from the restart and ran up to Lichfield’s defensive line. After a series of rucks, it was Bletchley’s turn to give a penalty, which Lichfield kicked to touch, just inside Bletchley’s 22. They secured their line out and set up a maul. After 5m they peeled off the back and passed the ball out along the line. A loose ball was gathered up by Stacey, who set up the ruck. Bletchley passed out to Rachael Taylor, who ran it up.

A series of rucks and runs gained ground, until a handling error in the ruck from Lichfield gave Bletchley a scrum in Lichfield’s half. Lichfield drove hard, forcing a knock on from Bletchley at the back of the scrum, reversing the honours. They secured the ball, but Bletchley ripped it back in the resulting ruck. A penalty in a subsequent ruck gave Lichfield the chance to kick back into Bletchley’s territory; however, the ball was gathered up by Alex Sutton, who ran back at them. Lichfield managed to rip the ball from a ruck and attempted a kick, but this gained no ground and Bletchley’s Emma Lucey secured the catch and drove back into the visitor’s half.

A knock-on from Lichfield just outside their 22 gave Bletchley a scrum. They worked through the phases from here, assisted by a strong run forward from Hannah Prescott. Lichfield dug in and pushed back, then regained possession after a Bletchley knock on. They kicked up the pitch, but Jodie Dimmock was waiting and ran it back. A ruck on the halfway line allowed Bletchley to set up; they passed along the line to Stacey, who made a break and ran in their second try. Taylor added the extras; 12-0, halfway through the first half.

Ten minutes later Bletchley took their third try; a lovely team performance after ripping the ball from a Lichfield ruck. The ball was passed along the line, driving forward into Lichfield territory. Lichfield dug in and pushed back, but a Bletchley scrum on the halfway line secured the ball, which was passed out to Peters who ran deep into the Lichfield half, passed on to Lucey, followed by a couple more quick offloads, on to Susova, who took her second try, moving the score line to 17-0.

A lovely show of how to move the ball came ten minutes later; phase after phase, moving back and forth along the line, resetting with scrums to realign play, resulted in a lovely team try finished off by Stacey. Taylor popped the ball clean between the posts to move the score to 24-0 with just a couple of minutes to play to finish the first half.

Lichfield came storming into the second half. They secured the ball from the opening kick and made a break to Bletchley’s 22. Dimmock and Taylor set up the challenge and got the player down for a ruck, but an injury stop gave Lichfield a scrum to restart. They secured the ball and pushed forward, setting up a ruck within 5m of the line. Another ruck, followed by a maul took the ball over the line for Lichfield’s opening points; 2-5 after seven minutes of play in the second half.

Now both sides were pushing for the next points, and play moved up and down the pitch. Bletchley kicked deep into Lichfield’s half from the restart. Lichfield pushed back, then kicked play into their hosts’ ground, only to have Dimmock drive back into their half again. Play continued round the middle section for a while, then moved up to Lichfield’s 22 after Denton ripped a ball from Lichfield in a scrum. A series of passes followed, then Lichfield intercepted a pass and drove play out of the danger zone, only to have Bletchley steel the ball back a few phases on. Bletchley’s new advance was helped by a penalty for a high tackle from Lichfield, allowing them to take a line out in the middle of Lichfield’s territory.

They secured the ball and set up a maul to drive deeper. Another penalty from the opposition helped things along; Bletchley took a quick tap, passed along the line to Sutton who ran up and passed as she drew the players in. A lovely display of moving the ball through the hands followed, taking play up to the middle of Bletchley’s visitor’s 22, finally being halted by Dimmock getting tackled out. Lichfield took possession at their line out and set up a maul, then passed off the back and kicked to touch, moving play to the middle of their half. Bletchley quickly took play back into Lichfield’s 22, only to knock on and give Lichfield another chance to clear it away with a scrum.

Again they secured and went for a maul, but knocked on from the pass off the back of the maul, giving Bletchley another chance. Bletchley took possession on the 22, with Bex Driscoll driving through the opposition. Then the ball passed through the hands to Dimmock, who popped it on to Stacey. Seven further phases saw the ball find Taylor, who put it down over the line, taking the double with her kick, to give Bletchley their bonus point try and move the score to 29-5, with ten minutes to play.

Driscoll gathered the ball up for Bletchley at the restart and drove play straight into Lichfield’s half, only to step out as a tackle came in from behind. Lichfield secured their line out and drove play straight back into Bletchley’s end, then had further help with a penalty from their hosts. They continued to push and took play halfway up Bletchley’s half, finally knocking on, giving Bletchley a scrum. A penalty from Bletchley as the ball left the scrum gave Lichfield another chance; they took a quick tap, passed through the hands and set up a ruck just short of the line. A big push from the ruck saw the ball go down in the corner to give a final score of 29-10, with an uneventful final five minutes to finish the game.

Bletchley Ladies are a friendly team who play hard, both on and off the pitch. They are now in their third season of level 3 rugby, playing in the Ladies Championship Midlands 2 league. They are always looking for new players and are hoping to get a second team off the ground this season. Training is at Bletchley rugby club, Manor Fields, on a Wednesday evening, and some Thursdays.