Canterbury Ladies 36 Heathfield & Waldron Ladies 0
After two successive years when they were promoted after winning their league, Heathfield Ladies had something of a reality check in a tough first game in National Challenge Division 1 when they visited last year’s league champions, losing by six tries to nil.
Last season in this League Canterbury lost just one league game – every other team lost at least five so they were clearly a class above the rest. They lost their playoff game (by a lot) so are still at this level and showed their class with a back division which had too much pace and accuracy for the visitors. This may well be the toughest game of the season for Heathfield and other results today suggest there is quite a variation in quality in the other teams in this league.
Heathfield had been disrupted the previous day when Ellie Duley had to withdraw with a nasty knee injury which will keep her of action for a while. New face Leslie Coulter took over at fly half although she normally plays wider out and had a very decent day under considerable pressure.
Conditions were excellent on a sunny day with a breeze diagonally across the pitch which was hard albeit with a good grass covering. The home side choose to play down the slight slope and for the first ten minutes there was nothing between the teams.
The visitors’ scrummage had a slight initial edge although this evened out later. Heathfield supporters were just beginning to think that this was going to be a close contest when Canterbury ran a set backs move with the outside centre running an inside line to bust open the defence and good hands did the rest (7-0).
Five minutes later more pace and good handling added another try out wide.
The forward exchanges were generally even although the Heathfield coaches afterwards felt that they will need to work on the breakdown at training this week. Canterbury also made better use of the wind often gaining ground with good kicking out of hand and this is another area where Heathfield can improve. On more than one occasion the Heathfield backs stood back waiting for a kick ahead to bounce only for the kick chasers to arrive and reclaim the ball – an old lesson that has to be relearned.
The outcome of the game was effectively decided with just over ten minutes remaining in the first half with two quick tries coming from good direct running and support by the Canterbury backs to give a half time score of 24-0.
Carla Monson and Brittany Mole were outstanding throughout the game with committed tackling, with skipper Becky Taylor close behind.
Canterbury collected their next try ten minutes into the second half with what looked like the same set move that had resulted in their first try. In spite of the slope and breeze slightly against the home side most of the play was in the visitors’ half.
The scoring was completed with just over ten minutes remaining as good hands put their winger over in the left hand corner.
As well as those mentioned above Jasmine White, Alex Young, Emily Sowell and Ella Watson were mentioned in despatches with the latter showing good pace and determination to make a try-saving tackle back near the line.
In spite of the score line there were plenty of positives to be taken from the game and the coaches know what needs to be addressed in training this week. There are several new faces in the squad and the team will improve as they have more game time together.
This Saturday Guernsey visit Cross-In-Hand with kick off at 12.00 so the game will take place as a curtain raiser to the men’s league game against Aylesford which starts at 3.00.
Pack: Amber Lovick, Poppy Eacott, Saskia Sullivan, Sharne Watson, Georgia Reed-Davies, Brittany Mole, Sophie Saunders, Becky Taylor.
Backs: Carla Monson, Leslie Coulter, Bethany Wright, Sophie Skinner, Emily Sowell, Hannah Haffenden, Ella Watson.
Replacements: Hannah Overy, Alexa Young, Izzy Goatcher, Lauren Duly, Jasmine White