First league WIN
By Gavin Smillie
The ladies did good.
Chard Ladies 41 Winscombe Ladies 12
Sunday 2nd of December was the day that all came right for Chard Ladies, when they recorded their first ever victory in a competitive league!
Winscombe arrived with a squad of only 12 , so Chard sportingly agreed to lend 2 players to ensure a full competitive match. Once the game started it was the visitors who started off strongly, pinning the home side in their 22 with Megan Armstrong playing for the opposition to the fore. After numerous attacks Winscombe finally broke through when Kim Sweeting dived over in the left corner for the first score of the day.
From the resulting kick off, Chard's forward and backs began to combine, driving into the visitors half. Strong thrusts by the reliable Sarah Kneeshaw, Laura Jenkins and Zoe Winlow, saw the home side camped in the Winscombe 22. From scrums and tap penalties, Chard finally broke through with forward of the match Kirsty Carlos crashing through from short range. The try was converted by Georgia Adams to give the home side the lead.
For the first time this season, play was consistently switched from forwards to backs, with the ball retention excellent. This enabled Chard Ladies to keep the ball for long periods of time, forcing the Winscombe Ladies to make numerous tackles which they did with great determination. However, the defense could not hold out and after 25minutes Laura Jenkins scored Chards second try with one of her now trademark charges.
Things were not all one way as Winscombe counter attacked, but strong defence by especially Elaine Stanier, Amelia Gilbert and Kerry Harris kept them at bay. As the half wore on, Chard became more confident with moving the ball along the backline, with Natalia -Mia Roach making excellent decisions as to when to pass and when to make breaks. The pressure told and Sarah Kneeshaw broke the visitors line again to score Chards third try , again converted by Adams. The combination of forwards and backs for Chard was highlighted as the half drew to a close, with prop Emma Harris linking with wing and back of the match Adams on the Chard right, until Harris got her just reward with a try on the stroke of half time to take the score 24 - 5 .
The second half began similar to the first, with the best solo try of the game being scored by Sweeting of Winscombe, gliding through the Chard defense to score her second try of the match under the the posts, converted by Talula Wheeler, to close the gap to 25-12.
However, this was the end of the visitors scoring, as Chard started to dominate and use their backs superbly. Holes started to appear in the visitors defense as Kneeshaw, Harris and Jenkins all made ground through the middle. From a scrum near the right touchline a superb blindside move saw captain Kerry Harris scoring in the corner to regain the initiative.
Player of the match Natalia-Mia Roach, then impressed again as her confidence grew , leading the backs with thrusting breaks, controlled passing and support. This led to Chards best move of the match with all of the backs involved in a flowing move that saw a wonderful try scored by Chards scrum half, converted from wide out by Adams.
Winscombe never gave up however with excellent tackling, Sweeting and "on loan" Amelia Gilbert to the fore.
With 5 minutes to go Chard scored their final try , with Roach breaking through again , this time reaching the try line for a well deserved score.
A fine performance against a determined Winscombe team, supported by Chard players not giving an inch, showed how far Chard Ladies have come over the last few years. Lots of hard work led by Mathew Bowditch and his support team, as well as great commitment from the players has proved that the decision to play in a competitive league at this time was the right one.
Thanks also goes to Holyrood Academy & Holyrood sports for loaning us their pitch to play on.