Chard Ladies enter the league
By Elizabeth George
A loss but went out as a solely Chard team
Withycombe Ladies 33 Chard Ladies 10
Chard Ladies produced a battling performance in their first ever league match as they traveled to Withycombe in National Challenge 2 SW League.
Under early pressure in their 22, Chard worked hard to work their way up the field through determined charges with captain Kerry Harris and forward of the match Jodie Hopkins to the fore. As Chard forced their way into the opposition 22, thrusts by Emma Harris and Sarah Kneeshaw led to prop Kirsty Carlos crashing over for the first try of the match .
Withycombe then began to move the ball among their dangerous backs, and only strong tackling , led by back of match Zoe Winlow, kept them at bay.
However, from a lineout on the Chard 22, the home side scored the try of the match. Clean line out ball led to the ball being passed swiftly along the back line with the scrum half looping 3 times to create an overlap in the corner for full back Bridget Culver to score and Enya Surtees to convert.
After 33 minutes, scrum half Amelia Gilbert left the field with an injury, and immediately centre Jen Brummer burst through a slightly disorganised defence.
With winger Georgia Adams in as scrum half , Withycombe took advantage with a chip over the Chard defence for guest Crediton player Rachel Mortimer to gather and race unopposed between the posts , the conversion by Surtees taking the half time score to 19 - 5 in favour of the home side.
Chard started the second half strongly. A deep kick off saw the home defence knock on in their own 22. From the resulting scrum, Chard backs passed the ball along the line for full back Kerry Harris to charge through to score.
For the next twenty minutes both sides neutralized each other, with Chard dominating the forward battle and only determined defence Elaine Stainer standing out with Emma Harris and Jodie Hopkins, holding the dangerous and inventive Wythycombe backs.
An unfortunate clash saw a player from both sides being shown yellow cards ( the Chard player for retaliation).
With strong tackling centre Sarah Kneeshaw not in position, the game was taken out of Chards reach in the 62 minute when the home backs took advantage of a 5 to 2 overlap on Chards left to allow Mortimer to score her second try, again converted.
Chard, like Withycombe worked hard in attack and also created overlaps similar to the home side, but the relative experience and match awareness of the two teams showed with Chard being unable to take advantage.
The final try came from Withycombe fly half Sian Williams just after returning to the field. The conversion taking the final score to 33 to 10 to the home side.
A very creditable performance by the 15 ladies of Chard against an experienced Withycombe side bolstered by Crediton players as well as a full bench .
Special mention must be made to player of the match Kat Swain, returning to Chard in a playing capacity and performing excellently in an unfamiliar position in the pack.
Many positives going forward for Chard ladies that coach Matt Bowditch & Dean Lewis can work on in the coming weeks.
Match report credit to Dave Webb & photo credits to Gary Bide Photography.