Northumberland County U15 Girls fielded two teams at a Rugby Festival held at Ryton RFC held on 10th March 2019. Despite the freezing weather conditions, the teams showed grit and determination and successfully marked up two wins against Durham. Below are the match reports from both games and congratulations to all players involved.
Match 1 – Northumberland v Durham A (Ryton RFC - 1st XV Pitch)
Northumberland 36 – Durham 26
Match Report by Alan Gardiner
Tries: Amy Carr x2, Jess Gardiner, Ava McDougall, Anna Richardson, Olivia Taylor
Amber Lawless - 3x Conversions
Northumberland off to a slow start and lacked the intensity that Durham came out with straight away. After 10 mins we were 2 tries down but the girls showed great character and maturity. They didn’t panic or let their heads drop and started to go through the phases and gradually got onto the front foot.
It was always going to be a forwards day against this Durham team in difficult weather conditions. Our mobile pack competed for everything and stopped every break.
As confidence grew Northumberland worked their way up the pitch and gained territory, everyone putting in a huge shift only to lose ground and territory as Durham defended very strongly. But they built again and turned the tide with pack leader No.8 Jess Gardiner going over under the posts for our first try supported by the entire pack. A second try quickly followed by Prop and Alnwick team mate Ava McDougal. Amber Lawless converted both giving us a narrow 14-12 lead at half time. Game on!
In the second half we traded tries and eventually we were 2 points behind on the conversion count. Amy Carr broke away for what would be the first of her two tries showing excellent vision and pace.
With 10 mins to go our forwards once again pressed on with Hooker, Lucy Hiscock being stopped inches from the line, Prop Olivia Milburn making snipping runs drawing in defenders, Jess Gardiner was then stopped actually over the line and on her feet with our pack then driving her on but just couldn’t get the ball down. We recycled, draw and pass, draw and pass and then to Liv Taylor who joined the line, cut across the grain and over. 19-19.
At this point, with a few more grey hairs appearing on the face of Head Coach Alan Gardiner, the girls were not done and deserved a win from the way that that they had played. The call was 6 mins on the clock and Northumberland needed another try. Well we didn’t have to ask them twice. They quickly built and Flanker Anna Richardson found another gap and flew over for another try to give Northumberland the lead.
With 2 mins to go, could they hang on as Durham presses forward yet again? A turn over and Amy Carr was off again showing devastating pace running 75 meters to score at the other end which was the final whistle.
A very exciting match and well deserved win in a match that could have gone either way, against a very strong Durham who dominated at the scrum making life very hard for Northumberland at the set piece.
Northumberland's back row were outstanding with Anna Richardson and Lucy Thorpe (Tynedale pairing) who were dangerous in attack finding space, using their speed always making ground and there in support. Strong runners, close support and pop passing always difficult to defend against. Jess Gardiner at no.8 always made ground, carried very well powering forward and drawing in their defence. Usually taking 3-4 defenders to eventually stop her.
Holly Robson (Alnwick) as captain was outstanding again, bossing the operation at 9 and always making things happen. Close support, snipping runs and huge pressure on their 9.
The highly mobile front row were fantastic. All 3 carried well and although Ava got her try, all 3 deserved a try of their own for the carries, meters made and danger that they always showed. Lucy Hiscock was excellent, always dangerous and unlucky to get held up on the line. Northumberland's flying prop,Liv Milburn, was superb, as expected another back row forward on the pitch, always dangerous, always going forward and providing a lot of turn over ball.
In the conditions the backs didn’t get quite as much ball as we might have liked. When they did get the ball they took their chances but Durham’s scramble defence worked well stopping great runs from Amber Lawless (Morpeth), Imandi Kumarapeli (Novos) and Liv Taylor (Morpeth). Amy Carr (Morpeth) certainly exploited every opportunity that she got scoring two fabulous tries. Amber’s conversions were outstanding in very difficult conditions where the wind seemed to be turbo charged every time the kicking tee came out!
Well done to every single player, a great team performance not only showing a great skill set which we would expect, but with organisation, communication, team work, character and attitude that really made the difference.
Northumberland v Durham B (Ryton RFC - Upper Pitch)
Northumberland 41 – Durham 0
Match Report by Natasha Robson and Craig Johnston
Tries: Olivia Ashburn, Grace Howson, Chloe Kennedy x2, Lottie Glover-Stewart, Maia Smith & Ellie Thompson
Ellie Thompson - 3x Conversions
A tough first half with Durham having probably 75% of the ball. They failed to capitalise mainly due to our great defence. We scored two tries in the first half through good support play between forwards and backs. The scrum struggled a little, but with a few changes improved in the second half.
In the second half possession was closer to 50/50 with a lot of handling error due to the cold and windy conditions. We score another 5 tries - mainly through the forwards. With handling being difficult we played a lot around the fringes and made very good yardage.
In defence: all were magnificent, forwards and backs. Very destructive in rucks, basically we ‘won the race’ to them. Stand out players; No. 8 Maia Smith (Morpeth), Prop Grace Howson (Morpeth) and Flanker / Lock Holly Desborough (Alnwick) and lock Ruby Gerrard (Morpeth).
Backs all tackled well. Stand out was centre Emma Gerrard (Morpeth), with her excellent line speed and cut some lovely lines back in.
We held Durham out for several minutes in second half when they were camped in our 22. Some full on tackling.
In attack: The Morpeth front row pairing of props Chloe Kennedy and Grace Howson were great running off rucks and mauls, powering over the line with 3 tries between them. Most forwards had a good run. All made good gains running straight. The backs found handling difficult in the conditions but all contributed well. They tried different approaches to go forward, kicking as well as running.
Support play was fantastic, we popped when we could to keep the ball alive and regularly passed to support before going to ground.
Excellent attitude, commitment and team work, Great to see, well done girls!