WITH ONLY 16 players in the whole squad fit and available, it was a very young T-bird squad who travelled to Aylesford in Kent with 2 players making their First Team debut.
Played on a pitch resembling a marsh, this game proved that not only can the T-birds play fantastic rugby when the conditions allow, but that they can dig in and dog out a win against all the odds.
Since Aylesford denied Ts promotion 3 seasons ago an intense but reasonably friendly rivalry has existed between the 2 teams which always adds a bit of spice to these fixtures.
Starting in cold drizzle, the conditions and pitch were never going to allow display rugby, so keeping it tight from the off, the home side constantly sent their huge prop crashing through the midfield, only a fine display of tackling by Ts keeping her at bay.
Ts were driven back into their own half almost from the kick off and stayed there with only a couple of breakaways until half time. Even with little possession, Ts were constantly looking to attack but the conditions constantly thwarted their efforts.
With the penalty count against them and prop Charlotte Micaleff in the bin for the last ten minutes of the first half, 14 woman Ts put up a magnificent defensive performance to deny Aylesford again and again, sometimes just inches short of the try line. The half time score 0-0.
In the second half Kat Emerson at 10, returning from a year out and a knee reconstruction, began to grow in confidence. Her movement in midfield pulling the defence about and her looping runs creating overlaps against an already stretched defence.
With only 5 minutes gone the ball reached winger Sally Appleton on the left side. Beating her opposite winger and the Full Back she scraped into the corner and with the Aylesford touch judge miles behind play the referee awarded a hotly disputed try.
Ts fine pack were visibly on top now and looking to make the game safe. Despite losing stalwart Sue Clive from the Centre with a broken finger Ts continued to press and with gaps starting to appear regularly Sally Appleton seized her second chance for a clear undisputed second try in 25 minutes. Replacement Jade Nelson adding the conversion for 0-12.
With their tails up and Aylesford heads briefly down, T’s went for the jugular from the kickoff and the other winger Dannie Harriss got in on the act by touching down in only a minute. 0-17.
With the game won but Aylesford playing for pride in front of a noisy home crowd, Ts desperate to keep a clean sheet again dug in and defended their line heroically for the last 15 minutes.
Forward of the match Veronica Ely. Back of the match Kat Emerson.
T’s are second in the table and now have a mid season break until they welcome Rosslyn Park to Oakfield on January 10th.