Bletchley Ladies hope it will be third time lucky in the Women’s Intermediate Cup semi-final this year after cruising through the quarters, beating Battersea Ironside 24-5.
Having lost in their two previous appearances in the semi-finals, they will take on Harrogate in the final four on March 24.
Bletchley opened the game; Battersea took the catch and pushed up. A penalty from Bletchley gave them a kick into Bletchley territory, then they gave their own penalty in the 22 to allow Bletchley to clear their lines. The ball made touch, but the resulting line out wasn’t straight, so Battersea opted for a scrum, which they secured and pushed the game back down the pitch. They worked through the phases and, then took a penalty kick for the posts, which dropped under.
Bletchley regrouped and kicked out from the 22, making touch. They stole the resulting line out and worked forward, then popped another kick over play, which bounced out. Battersea held their line out this time, only to be tackled out, giving the honours to Bletchley. Again the throw wasn’t straight, giving Battersea another chance to head for Bletchley’s line. Fortunately, after a knock on, Bletchley took possession and moved play away from their 22. A couple of penalties from the opposition further helped their advance; the second secured another line out, but they were struggling here, and yet again gave Battersea a scrum for not throwing straight. Battersea secured this and clawed back some lost ground, but a kick to further advance things found the safe hands of Jodie Dimmock, and Bletchley were back on course. Another penalty gave them a kick to touch and, with Battersea prelifting and advantage being played, they held possession and set up a maul then passed out along the line. A quick tap after another penalty took Bletchley into Battersea’s 22. The ladies pressed hard on the line, working through the phases, but it wasn’t to be yet, and Battersea ripped the ball from a ruck on the line and kicked clear.
Play remained in Battersea’s half, and after a minute or so of play, the now expected penalty gave Bletchley the chance to drive a maul back into their 22, before it’s momentum stalled, giving Battersea a scrum and a chance to kick clear briefly. Beth Metcalf took the catch and drove straight back; a knock on at a ruck gave the scrum honours back to the visitors. They secured the ball and kicked away again, only to find Metcalf waiting to push back up again. With a virtual action replay with a knock on at a ruck, Battersea again set up for the scrum; this time, however, Bletchley turned the scrum and passed the ball out along the line. A high tackle from Battersea just 5m out halted progress briefly, with 2 further penalties and a warning for them getting in the way of progress, then Bletchley finally got the ball over the line, only to have it held up! So… a scrum on the 5m line; Bletchley held this and continued to press, then gave a knock on to help Battersea with their defence. They kicked to clear their lines, but dependable Dimmock was there, and brought it straight back to them. She popped the ball out, then a quick tap over the visitor’s heads made touch, just 15m out. Bletchley stole Battersea’s lineout ball, worked through a few phases, then Rachael Taylor took it over the line for Bletchley’s first points; 7 – 0, a full 35 minutes into the game.
Bletchley pushed up from the restart, assisted by a nice little run from Dimmock. Then a kick from Taylor was chased hard by Battersea and Taylor, with Taylor being there ready for the tackle as Battersea gathered the ball. A penalty from Bletchley at the ruck gave Battersea a kick, but it didn’t make touch. Dimmock took possession and ran up, only to knock on in a tackle. Advantage was being played, then Bletchley gave a penalty, securing possession for their visitors. They kicked for touch, then held the lineout and pushed up. Another kick down the pitch was taken by Dimmock, then Bletchley kicked the ball back into Battersea’s hands! They pushed hard and finally got over the line in the last play, only to find a Bletchley hand under the ball. Half time score: 7 – 0.
The second half was just as hard fought, opening with 3 penalties from the visitors, plus a yellow card, in the first 5 minutes. Bletchley used this to their advantage and clinically worked play forward. They kicked to touch from the 3rd penalty, passed out along the line, then rolled the rucks until they were back in Battersea’s 22. A few more phases and they were over the line; the try was held up. Back for the scrum, and Bletchley continued to assert pressure; a high tackle on the line gave Bletchley a quick tap and a chance to push again. They moved the ball along the line, but Battersea dug in, finally pressing play to touch and tackled Bletchley out. Metcalf stole the ball at the line out and passed it out; it found Taylor, who put it down for a converted try; 14 – 0.
Nicola Coaker took the ball on the bounce at the restart and set up a ruck. Unable to release, Bletchley gave a penalty, allowing Battersea to kick into touch and take a line out in Bletchley’s 22. They popped the ball down from the throw, where it went loose. They secured it but took a high tackle. Battersea tapped and ran back into the 22, then passed along the line. Bletchley held fast, and Battersea couldn’t find a way to get beyond the 22; a brief ruck just in Bletchley’s 22, then Battersea found themselves being pushed back as they passed the ball along the line. They began to go through their phases, then a high tackle and a yellow for Bletchley gave them a bit of space; it took a full 7 minutes of pressure, strongly counteracted by Bletchley, but Battersea eventually got the ball over the line to avoid being nilled; 14 – 5.
Battersea knocked on from the restart kick, giving Bletchley a scrum on the visitor’s 22. They secured the scrum, then dropped the ball as it passed along the line. Battersea got to it first and tapped it up the pitch, both teams in full chase. Another tap from Battersea and the ball was in the middle of Bletchley’s territory, but Battersea knocked on as they dropped on it, allowing Bletchley to retain possession with a strong scrum. They passed out from the back, then kicked down the pitch. Battersea took the catch in the middle of their half and worked back, but then gave a penalty to allow Bletchley to regain lost ground. A few minutes later a loose ball in the visitor’s 22 was secured by Battersea, but an unused maul gave Bletchley the upper hand again. A tap and a set of clean passes found Clare Stacey, who ran it up to the line. A penalty from Battersea in the ruck gave Bletchley another go, immediately followed by another penalty and a yellow card for the visitors. Bletchley chose to take a 5m scrum this time and continued to press. Another penalty, a quick tap and pick from the ruck and Metcalf took the ball over in the corner, to open the margin to 19 – 5.
With just 5 minutes to play, and a knock on at the restart, it looked like this would be the final score; Bletchley had other ideas. The referee played advantage from Bletchley’s knock on and Battersea moved play forward. Then Battersea knocked on themselves and advantage was played again. Bletchley pulled the ground back, then were tackled out, giving Battersea the line out in the middle of Bletchley’s half. Bletchley stole the line out, passed to Taylor who kicked it up the pitch. Battersea got to the catch, but knocked on, giving Bletchley a scrum, just short of the halfway line. A strong scrum and Bletchley were in full attack mode, pushing deep into Battersea territory. The visitors managed to rip the ball from a ruck, worked through a few phases, then kicked it up the pitch, only to find it ran straight back at them. Bletchley recycled cleanly, driving away any opposition, working for the line. In the last play of the game, Hannah Prescott took the final points for Bletchley, to secure the Ladies their semi-final place; 24 – 5. The ladies will be travelling up to Harrogate on the 24th March to see if it can be third time lucky, after 2 previous semi-finals, to take a place in the final.
Bletchley Ladies are back at the Manor next week, hosting Wymondham Ladies.