Women’s rugby saved by first win of season

Amie Walker reports Womens Rugby firsts' fight for Premiership survival in a tasty play-off clash against Manchester

Amie Walker
30th April 2018
Manchester were unable to hold Newcastle back from their crucial victory in Heaton. Image: NUWRFC

After a not so successful season Newcastle’s women’s rugby first team saw themselves face off against Manchester University in the playoffs, fighting to retain their position in the premiership. Although not happy to be in their current position, they knew that they had the upper hand through their experience of playing against some of the toughest university teams in the country.

Newcastle played at home for the first of the two-leg fixture. The girls approached the game with excitement, knowing their hard work in training and during their Easter fitness programme would put them in good stead against the new opponents.

The game began with Newcastle receiving, the ball caught by second rower Scholey allowing the attack to begin. The attack sadly was stopped by a good steal from Manchester which just allowed to show how strong Newcastle were in defence too.

A superb tackle from first year prop Mawar saw Newcastle force a knock on, giving Newcastle the first possessive scrum. The ball was hooked back perfectly by McGregor into the hands of crashing Robinson, the chemist carving past the Manchester flankers and forcing the 10 into action. After a few passage of plays outside centre Dancing Dewar found herself skipping around and past the defensive line. Just as she was about to score the referee blew for a misfortunate forward pass to Manchester’s relief.

[pullquote]Pumped from their try but knowing the game wasn’t over yet Newcastle got right back to it[/pullquote]

Not deterred, Newcastle got right back into it. A double tackle by Hepburn and Acorn saw Newcastle regain possession with a tremendous jump by high flyer Strachan, the ball being passed down the back line. Now the forwards had the chance to smash into the line, Farrah and Pratt expressing their inner Miley Cyrus by wrecking the defensive line.

After a penalty placing Newcastle right near the Manchester try line the girls didn’t get white line fever; the ball was quickly and calmly tapped by scrum half Walker Dupère. The first year passed the ball to the 10 Hepburn who drew in the defence and passed it to second rower Walker who with a long, NBA style dunk placed the ball on the try line. The extra two points were received by a lovely kick from McGregor.

Pumped from their try but knowing the game wasn’t over yet Newcastle got right back to it, Strachan and Dewar breaking past the defence. With a quick pick and go, Walker Dupère placed Newcastle back into Manchester’s 22. The second try was scored by Robinson crashing through three players after receiving an out-the-back pass from Walker.

The second half began with a cracking tackle from Eardley, forcing a knock on from the onset. From the scrum the ball was handed to Green, the first year gliding through the gaps in the line. Newcastle got back to work, with the forwards smashing the ball in then shipping it out to their fast footed teammates, winger Scarr making important metres.

After a brilliant try for the line by fullback Eardley the girls got their score through Walker, the second rower doing what comes natural and hurtling through the line to earn her second try.

Manchester definitely weren’t ready to lie down and take the loss, their no.8 stealing the ball and forcing Newcastle into defence after the kick off. Amazing tackles from Dewar and Green allowed winger Acorn to steal the ball, passing it to fresh legs Hotson who was ready to show Manchester why she was making her first team debut.

[pullquote]The second half began with a cracking tackle from Eardley[/pullquote]

Scholey, Pratt and Robinson drew the defensive line with some big carries, providing space for Acorn to score her first ever first-team try. Still determined to put a score on the board in the final moments, Manchester deservingly crashed through the line after a succession of penalties against Newcastle.

The following week the victors travelled down to Manchester hoping to build on their success and cement their position in the premiership.

Despite a few early tries giving Newcastle a 12-5 lead at half time, Manchester fought back to win 22-12. Fortunately for Newcastle this was not enough to overcome their defeat in the first leg, and Manchester will be playing in the Northern 1A division once again next year.

Despite hail, a potential storm and a string of injuries, Newcastle women’s rugby were successful in their campaign to remain in the premiership. Their hard work and determination during the game ensured the ladies defeated Manchester University overall.

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