Friday, November 29, 2013

Herts U18 Girls end season with win against Essex

Hertfordshire U18s girls concluded their matches for this season with an overwhelming 67-0 victory against Essex. The match, held at Hitchin RFC, was actually stopped a third of the way through the second half due to a potentially serious injury to one of the Essex players, so the winning margin could have been much higher still. Luckily it turned out to be only a minor shoulder injury.

Since Essex had won their previous match against Sussex, Herts were hopeful of a more even match than the one earlier in the month against Eastern Counties. Unfortunately, Essex were only able to muster 13 players, so Herts loaned Essex two of their players in order to get a 15-aside match.

The Herts forwards were commanding at the breakdown and in the scrum. On several occasions they turned over the ball which allowed the backs to make inroads. By half time Herts had scored nine tries, three of which had come from the forwards who had found themselves with room. Zoe Harrison was on form with the boot and added six conversions to take the score to 55 – 0 at half time.

With several changes at half time, to give all the Herts girls some game time, the try rate slowed a little in the second half. Nevertheless Herts scored two further tries before the match was stopped after 14 minutes of play.

Fittingly the top scorers, with a hat-trick each, were fullback Sydney Gregson and prop Vicci Cogger. They were playing their final representative match for Herts U18s, along with Catrin Bowser, who also scored, and scrumhalf Bryony Pomfret. Katy Walker contributed two tries, Ellena Perry scored one and Zoe Harrison added one as well as her six conversions.

After the match the girls rounded off what is a short county season with some appropriate speeches at the dinner. Head coach John Harrison paid tribute to the squad who had played saying, “You can be very, very proud of everything you have achieved…you have been a pleasure to coach and fully deserve your success”.

Team: Harriet Austin, Sara Blissett, Catrin Bowser, Vicci Cogger, Hayley Everett, Tian Figg, Sydney Gregson, Zoe Harrison, Florence Jones, Rosie Kay, Aine McMahon, Pat Metcalfe-Jones, Sandra-Jo Palfrey, Ellena Perry, Bryony Pomfret, Helen Roberts, Izzie Sloan, Megan Smith, Jeanine Stephenson, Beth Summerfield, Kate Summerfield, Katy Walker

Monday, November 04, 2013

Herts U18 Girls too strong for Eastern Counties

In the first of two county matches this month Hertfordshire U18 girls won very convincingly by 83-0 against an inexperienced Eastern Counties side on Sunday. The match was played at Stowmarket in very blustery conditions. Paradoxically, Herts played better against the wind in the first half, notching up nine tries. They seemed to switch off for much of the second half before rounding off strongly at the end with a further four tries.

All of the tries were scored by the backs. But the key was the domination of the pack, led by Harriet Austin, who was awesome in her destructive capability at the breakdown. With plenty of quick ball coming out in the first half, distributed superbly by half-backs Bryony Pomfret and Zoe Harrison, there was plenty of time and space for the backs to run round and through the Eastern Counties defence.

In the first half tries were scored at regular 2-4 minute intervals by Beth Summerfield (three), Katy Walker (two), Bryony, Zoe, Rosie Kay and Aine McMahon. Zoe also converted five of these in conditions that were very difficult for placekicking, as the wind was liable to whip the ball out of direction at any point.

At the half-way point Herts turned around 55-0 and so it was perhaps not so surprising that they found it
 hard to maintain the same cohesion in the second half. The play became surprisingly scrappy as the girls became a little too complacent and over-ambitious with their passing and handling errors occurred.

It wasn’t until the twentieth minute of the second half that Zoe found her way through to score once more. Eight minutes later Zoe broke through again. This time she was tackled 10 metres from the line but managed to pop up the ball to Beth who was on her shoulder and had an easy run in to score.

Even when Eastern Counties got close to the Herts try line, they were unable to execute. After they gave away a scrum at the 5-metre line, the Herts defence was rapidly turned into attack as Zoe kicked the ball downfield for Katy to run onto and carry over. The final try was scored by Beth, with a run down the wing from midway to score under the posts. Zoe converted all four tries in the second half.

With two of the Herts' divisional players unavailable, this wasn’t actually the strongest side that could have been fielded. It did, however, give the coaches the opportunity to play some of the less experienced players, with Kate Summerfield, Izzie Sloan and Tian Figg all making their Herts debuts at under 18 level. However it is hard to see much value for either side in such an unequal encounter. Even so these are still matches to be won and the girls executed much of their hard work in practice convincingly on the day. Credit should also be given to the Eastern Counties girls who didn’t give up and managed to contain the Herts girls for a 20-minute period at the start of the second half.

After the match the referee complimented the Herts girls on both their good play and excellent attitude. The second county match will take place against Essex at Hitchin on November 24.

Team: Harriet Austin, Catrin Bowser, Hayley Everett, Tian Figg, Zoe Harrison, Rosie Kay, Florence Jones, Aine McMahon, Pat Metcalfe-Jones, Ellena Perry, Bryony Pomfret, Helen Roberts, Izzie Sloan, Megan Smith, Jeanine Stephenson, Beth Summerfield, Kate Summerfield, Katy Walker,