Newcastle Women’s Rugby opened their season against an experienced Northumbria side on Wednesday afternoon, both teams hoping to achieve their first win of the season. Both teams found themselves playing on a wet, damp pitch after being graced by the beautiful northern weather- sadly the summer is no longer with us. Newcastle hoped to build on the work they have done in training and during preseason friendly matches, eager to further strengthen a fairly new squad and to wear our brand new strips proudly. Many of the squad made their first team debut, having joined as freshers or by rising through the second team.
Newcastle started by receiving, the ball captured safely by front row Bethany Robinson. Sadly after a few phases of play, the ball was knocked on, giving Northumbria possession and their quick reactions allowed their fullback to cross the line. Not allowing the try to deter the home side, scrum-half Teresa McGillivray restarted the game again and the Newcastle defence worked up the field as a unit, defending in the poly’s half with brilliant tackles being made by flanker Ellie Pratt.
"The Newcastle fullback Fiona Dewar stopped the onslaught with some try-saving tackles"
With strong runners, Northumbria managed to break through the Newcastle defence eventually but was chased down by Newcastle’s fly-half Jess Hepburn and a penalty given against Northumbria by second row Amie Walker for the poly holding on. McGillivray took the quick tap; the speedster weaved through a broken Northumbria defence and taking Newcastle back into the poly half.
Unfortunately, due to a wet ball after a few phases of play, the ball was knocked on and the Newcastle defence was against a hungry Northumbria attack again. The Newcastle fullback Fiona Dewar stopped the onslaught with some try-saving tackles. However, the experienced Northumbria side with their quick support, despite Dewar’s skilful tackles, found themselves over the try line again and again in the half.
At halftime Newcastle found themselves on the back foot and with some wise words from first-team coach Robert Green went back into the second half with smiling faces and a new set of goals to achieve in the game.
"They finished the game how they will hope to finish every game: with their heads held high and a smile on their faces"
The slight little changes in outlook turned the favour back to Newcastle, NWR keeping possession and then defending their line more successfully with replacement scrum half Wilson and Dewar controlling the line. Prop Elle Hewson was a nightmare in the rucks, driving two poly players off the ball and successfully turning the ball over to allow Newcastle another phase of attack.
First team captain Sophie Slater said: “Great performance for the first game of the season, plenty to take from it as we move forward but we continued to work hard and put up a good fight against a tough opposition.”
Although the score was one-sided, not all success is gained in points; the invaluable experienced gained on the pitch will help NWR prosper through the rest of the season. They finished the game how they will hope to finish every game: with their heads held high and a smile on their faces. Next week Newcastle face Edinburgh at home, eager to give the Scots a run for their money.