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,

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