Eight try home win for Heathfield Ladies over local opponents
Back division has too much power and skill for game opposition
Heathfield Ladies 42 Cranbrook Ladies 0
Heathfield Ladies enjoyed a comfortable eight try home win over Cranbrook Ladies on a damp grey afternoon, thus confirming their position at the top of the league table. Womens’ games normally take place on Sundays but this was moved to Saturday to enable a lunch before the game which was attended by VPs, Gavin Ross Sussex RFU President, members of the Heathfield men’s 1st team and some Cranbrook officials.
Earlier rain and occasional misty drizzle during the game meant that ball handling was always difficult but the home back division had a clear edge in support play and handling skill which decided the day. Heathfield had initial use of the slight slope and were soon pressing into the visitors’ half with Hannah Davis making the first of several dynamic carries. A tap penalty was carried on into the left hand corner and Becky Taylor worked her way over to open the scoring (5-0).
Cranbrook were definitely up for a contest and the game had a distinct edge to it that the referee did well to manage. He now binned a player from either side for what is best described as unladylike behaviour. Good rugby involves controlled physical aggression but limits have to be respected.
The visitors managed to establish some decent forward drives but were just about contained and a turnover was well exploited down the right flank by good hands to Emily Sowell where an impressive cover tackle ended the opportunity. However a few minutes later a Cranbrook kick out of defence was run back and again moved to Sowell who this time made no mistake in going for the corner (10-0).
Most of the play was in the visitors’ half although their pack continued to do some effective close driving. On the half hour a scrum ten metres out from the visitors’ line provided good ball for number eight Becky Farrant to find Sowell who stepped inside the cover and finished well.
From the restart Heathfield secured possession and again moved the ball to Sowell who made good yards before finding Jo Clement with a precise scoring pass (20-0).
This is the first year in an RFU league for both sides and indeed the first season of any sort for the Cranbrook Ladies while Heathfield had played a number of friendlies last season. The scrummage was well contested although Heathfield had a definite edge while greasy ball made the lineout a difficult area for both sides.
Heathfield continued to collect tries throughout the second half. First a tap penalty was driven over by Izzy Eyres with skipper Carla Monson making her only successful conversion on the day (27-0). The coaching team are only too well aware of the need to find a kicker as shortcomings in that respect will be costly in the future.
Davis made her biggest run of the day from some forty yards out as her direct powerful running proved too much for the visitors’ defence (32-0).
Good turnover ball was then worked wide to Monson and she also made a lengthy run for a try.
Cranbrook were still gamely trying to get something out of the game and had a decent period of pressure in the home 22 but the home defensive organisation and commitment proved adequate.
Given the majority possession enjoyed by Heathfield it should also be noted that Cranbrook put in plenty of effective tackles that often contained the threatening home back division.
The game was ended by another try for Clement, again benefitting from an accurate scoring pass from Sowell.
Earlier Cranbrook men’s 2nd team had played Heathfield 3rds in an entertaining game which saw Cranbrook leading 0-17 at half time and then just holding on as the home side surged back in the second half but just failed to snatch a result (12-17). Players from that game then joined other spectators for the ladies game so that a decent crowd provided a lively atmosphere with the referee Ben Harman coming in for some pantomime booing.
Heathfield and Cranbrook have played each other many times over the years but this was the first meeting for several years because of varying league fortunes and we look forward to many more such days in the future.
Next week Heathfield Ladies travel to Hove for the first of five consecutive away league games (28 Jan 2.00).
1. Jade Scarsbrook
2. Carly Harris
3. Saskia Sullivan
4. Becky Taylor
5. Hollie Morrell
6. Lizzie Norman
7. Izzy Eyres
8. Becky Farrant
9. Carla Monson (Captain)
10. Hannah Osbourne
11. Hannah Chapman
12. Hannah Davis
13. Jo Clement
14. Emily Sowell
15. Hettie McNaughton
16. Abi Tappenden
17. Liz Ashworth
18. Heather Jury
19. Amber Douglas
20. Harriet Mason Pearson