Despite, strong hopes of emulating the commanding win produced by the seconds, the firsts knew this match would be a tough one. This didn’t stop them bringing the game to Northumbria. Unfortunately, they were just out-played on this occasion, with the final score reading 7-41.
Newcastle started as they meant to continue with a solid defensive line, pressuring Northumbria into making mistakes, allowing them to regain possession and play their own game.
A series of great passes and rucks awarded Newcastle an early penalty. Taken quickly an unlucky spilt pass gifted Northumbria possession, which saw them start to work through the phases to regain early territory gained by Newcastle. Back on the half way line, Ella Bloor made a strong tackle stopping Northumbria’s momentum.
However, Northumbria proved the stronger side as they made headway into Newcastle’s half. This did not deter the Newcastle who worked the defensive line once again, pressuring Northumbria into a mistake, and awarding Newcastle another penalty, which allowed them to kick the ball into touch, regaining the territory that had been lost.
"Working hard through their phases Newcastle regained territory and entered into Northumbria’s 22"
Back on the half way line, Northumbria’s line out was scrappy, opening an opportunity for Newcastle to regain possession. Unfortunately, a knock-on prevented Newcastle from capitalising, giving Northumbria the scrum.
Not discouraged, Newcastle showed their strength, just like the second team had done before them, dominating the scrum, and turning over possession. Working hard through their phases Newcastle regained territory and entered into Northumbria’s 22.
Another wayward pass stopped the flow of play, and resulted in a scrum deep within Northumbria’s 22, which again showed the strength within the Newcastle pack. However, an injury to Newcastle’s Sam West back up the field resulted in play being paused as medical treatment was given.
Amy Nicholls then came on as a substitute for Newcastle, and play resumed, with Newcastle still deep in Northumbria’s 22.
Back in the centre of the field, a great tackle from Newcastle’s full back applied the pressure needed to turn possession over. Unfortunately, the girls were not able to capitalise on this.
Just before half time, following nearly 40 minutes of high intense phase driving and closely contested play by both sides, Northumbria found a way through Newcastle’s defensive line up the left-hand side. A wide conversion left the score at 5-0, although fair doesn’t truly reflect the efforts of both sides or indeed Newcastle’s dominance in certain aspects of the game.
"Newcastle made then fight hard for every single point, and they should be very proud"
Going into the second half, although down, Newcastle were certainly not out as they were still within 7 points of Northumbria. Unfortunately, Northumbria came out fighting hard.
Deep within Newcastle’s 22, Sarah Hall produced a great drive, turning over possession, and keeping Northumbria from extending their lead. This was not for long, though, as Newcastle’s defence was soon tested again, and this time Northumbria found a way through, though a missed conversion only brought the score to 0-10.
Keeping to their game and working hard through the phases, Newcastle created some opportunities. Elle Bloor found a gap through Northumbria’s defence, regaining 10 metres. Fully supported by the rest of the team, an off-load to Aisling Hunt and then a pass to Katherine Hanna who pushed through the defensive wall, gained another 5 metres. The ball was then knocked on, and a scrum was called. Knowing it was a big scrum Newcastle produced the goods and overturned the ball, allowing Ellen Jones to make 3 metres, scoring Newcastle’s first try of the match. A fabulous team effort.
Despite Newcastle’s best efforts Northumbria kept the score board ticking over with 5 tries within the remaining 30 minutes; all bar one of which were followed with a conversion. With the final score reading 7-41, in favour of Northumbria it must be noted that it was not any easy, dominant win for them like the score suggests. Newcastle made then fight hard for every single point, and they should be very proud of their performance.
MVP: Sarah Hall