First home game of the season
By Elizabeth George
Chard Ladies 12 Bideford Ladies 63
Chard ladies entertained Bideford Ladies in their first home league match. However, it was the sparkling Bideford backs who set the match alight, with a fine display of running rugby.
For the first quarter of the match it didn't seem that way, with Chard showing early ascendancy , driving through the forwards and releasing the backs with Sarah Kneeshaw and Georgia Adams making telling breaks. The Bideford defence stayed strong against the powerful Chard backs and gradually blunted the home attacks with determined tackling.
There was parity in the set pieces with the front row of Kirsty Carlos, Lucy Gosden and Emma Harris holding the strong Bideford scrum, and Kat Swain cleanly taking all line out ball on own throw.
The first sign of the danger from the Bideford backs came following a scrum on the half way, when the away side broke blind and took advantage of a two to one overlap for centre Kayleigh Mcdonald to score.
Bideford then cleverly used kicks to the corners to turn the Chard defence . From a lineout in the Chard 22, a clearance kick was gathered near the left touch line, and play was switched to the right with wing Gabby Hunkin scoring in the corner.
Chard then attacked from the kick of, but turnover ball saw a devastating counter attack with number 8 Amber Hallman again taking advantage of an overlap to surge through the gap, and score despite a desperate cover tackle by full back Kerry Harris.
Again Chard pressed, and ran two penalties in the Bideford 22 in an attempt to break the line. However, once again possession was lost and Bideford broke out of defence , switching play from left to right before Sammi Dolton-Ginn sprinted through to score under the posts. This was converted by Amber Hallman.
The first half ended on a high with Chard fly half Natalia-Mia Roach crashing over from short range to make the half time score Chard 5 Bideford 22.
The second half saw Bideford take control of the match. Despite Chard possibly having more possession through their hard driving forwards, Bideford pounced on any lose play to tear through the Chard defence. With player of the match Elaine Stainer to the fore, the home side battled for possession of the ball, but the constant pressure from the away side backs , resulted in gaps appearing in the home defence.
Tries came at regular intervals with Mcdonald scoring a further 3 tries, Sasha Nichall 3 and one for Bideford back of the match , full back Tia Hanson. Three of which were converted by Hallman.
Once again Chard did not give up, with again forward charges creating spaces in the Bideford defence, with fly half Roach again crashing over for Chards second try , converted by Adams.
The spirit of the Chard ladies team showed through, with the tenacity of scrum half earning Amelia Gilbert back of the match, and Sarah Jones's return to the team , forward of the match.
Despite the final score being Chard 12 Bideford 63, the home team spirits were high as they were simply beaten by a better team playing excellent attacking rugby.
This was all helped by a superb understated display by referee Dave Mealing.