Chard ladies beaten at Topsham
PUBLISHED: 16:58 11 February 2019
Chard ladies went down 51-15 on their visit to Topsham ladies for their latest league outing, writes David Webb.
The home side, clearly looking to return to winning ways after their previous outing – a draw at Chard – that ended the Tops’ season-long 100 per cent record, made a bright start and, after moving the ball along the line to the left wing, they then switched play, creating an overlap on the right that left Emily Owen with a run to the try line and the conversion was slotted by Ann Webb.
Minutes later an almost identical move resulted in a try for Laura Harris and a second successful conversion left Topsham leading 14-0 just five minutes in.
With the visitors on the back foot from the start, the one area that Chard dominated was the scrum, were once again they secured all their own ball and winning at least two against the head.
Despite heroic defence from scrum-half Amelia Gilbert, Laura Jenkins and all, the pace and control of ball in hand of the home side saw tries coming at regular intervals, as Topsham proved why they are flying high at the top the league.
Indeed, 30 minutes into the contest, Topsham had chalked up a further five tries, scored by Rebecca Partridge (2), Chelsea Howard, Harris again, and there was also a try from fly-half Webb, who also managed another conversion to leave the home side leading 41-0, with the visitors showing only glimpses of their powerful drives so prevalent in their previous encounter.
Just on the stroke of half-time Chard finally began to show the form and determination that has shown them unbeaten in their last three matches.
With drives through the reliable Kneeshaw, Winlow and Stanier, they finally got on the scoreboard as Jenkins forced her way over to register the visitors first points.
The second half was a completely different affair to the first, with Chard’s team spirit and determination coming to the fore.
With such a dominant first half, and playing with a strong wind behind their backs, the home side would have expected to accumulate a substantial score, especially with the half beginning with centre Partridge scoring to complete her hat trick, but this was not to be.
With their backs to the wall, Chard began to play to their strengths, attacking through the middle and holding their lines of defence to put pressure on their opponents.
Amelia Gilbert, once again showed what a tenacious defender she is, as well as increasing maturity at scrum half. Sarah Jones drove relentlessly round the fringes, Suzannah Wilton cleaning up any loose ball and Emma Harris outstanding at prop.
Chard’s power play began to show dividends as penalties were conceded at regular intervals, due to the pressure created by the visitors.
After a series of drives from Jenkins, Emma Harris deservedly scored after crashing through the defence from ten metres out.
The second half continued to be an even affair with both sides tackling hard and forcing errors. A kick ahead from the home fly half saw full back Kerry Harris covering under immense pressure supported by wing Adams, that epitomized the team spirit of the side, with Marie Lawrence outstanding , tackling and supporting.
With just over 10 minutes remaining,, home prop Meg Coombes made a charging run to crash through the Chard tackling to score their second try of the half.
With the game long lost, Chard’s motivation was to at least tie the second half of the match. Once again, due to the visitor’s determination and pressure, the home side conceded a series of penalties.
Finally, with the last move of the match, Sarah Kneeshaw drove over the line in the right hand corner to complete the scoring.
A very creditable second half for Chard, but a deserved victory for Topsham who played some excellent, intelligent attacking rugby in the first half, that was at matched by Chard’s tenacity in the second.
The Chard Back of the Match award went to Amelia Gilbert while the Forward of the Match went to Emma Harris and the Player of the Match award went to the splendid Laura Jenkins, who made good ground every time she carried the ball forward throughout the contest.
Chard team: Hannah Rose-Franks, Suzannah Wilton, Emma Harris, Lorna Boobyer, Sarah Jones, Kirsty Su, Laura Jenkins, Elaine Stanier, Amelia Gilbert, Natalia-mia Roache, Liz George, Sarah Kneeshaw, Zoe Artemise Winlow, Georgia Adams, Kerry Harris, Marie Lawrence