For the neutral observer, this must have been a fine game to watch. Physical and hotly contested in all departments the T-Birds will still look back on this draw as points lost against top of the table Harlequins.
With KO delayed 15 minutes due to a car breakdown and lack of players, T’s warm up was severely disrupted and may well have resulted in the slow start.
Ts kicked off into the wind and Harlequins drove back remorselessly into T ‘s half and stayed there for the next 15 minutes.
Physical and totally committed at the ruck, Quins were first to the loose ball and justifiably on top.
Twice Ts turned ball over unexpectedly and instead of kicking for territory, attacked fast and wide only to spurn the final overlap and go into contact.
Finally Ts regrouped and applied their own pressure and with the help of a series of penalties worked their way into Quins territory.
Even though the Ts front row had a distinctly unfamiliar look to it, the power from the scrum was too much for Quins to handle and Ts began to get ball against the head. Unfortunately the usually efficient lineout was not as good as usual so the set piece was evened out.
Every time Ts moved the ball wide they looked like scoring, but the last pass always seemed to fail.
Finally the backs got clean fast ball and winger Lauren Kidd stripped the defense to go over the line for the first score of the game at 36 minutes so the teams went in at half time at 5-0.
With a Quin’s player in the bin just before half time for a dangerous tackle, Ts still had to defend resolutely despite the numerical advantage but shortly before the player returned ,scrum half Amy Radford returning from injury and playing her first league game of the season, saw a gap down the inside of a ruck inside her own 22 and popped through the gap to run the length of the pitch and touch down under the posts. The missed conversion left the score at 10-0 after 9 minutes of the second half..
For a few minutes Quin’s head’s dropped and T’s ran riot again 5 minutes later, finding space for the other winger and seasons top try scorer Dannie Harris to go outside the defense and again touch down under the posts, the conversion this time bringing the score to 17-0.
At this point the crowd and team thought this game was won, the only question was how many more Ts would score, but it was not to be.
The next 10 minutes was more evenly matched with Ts still looking the more likely to score, but the minor injuries began to stack up and slow players down and then T’s lost Dannie Harris to an ankle injury.
Apart from the 5 minutes after the second score, Quins had never let their heads drop and now they believed that they could score for pride as the battered Ts lost pace. Tackle after tackle denied Quins a try, until finally the Quin’s 10 Jayne Goodliffe slipped a tackle to go straight under the posts, the conversion bringing the score to 17-7 after 70 minutes.
With their tails now up, Quins pressed hard and despite desperate work from the meanest defense in the league, Jayne Goodliffe did it again in the last seconds of normal time to bring the score to 17-14.
The tired Ts dug in and never looked like conceding another try, but began to give away penalties, and finally after 8 minutes of injury time Jayne Goodlife kicked the penalty from outside the 22 that leveled the score at 17 all.
November 22nd the T-Birds will welcome Wasps seconds to Oakfield and then travel to Blackheath on November 29th.
As usual, all are welcome.