Saturday, June 3, 2023

Rugby: T-Birds begin season with a win

T Bird Black

T-Birds 39 v 17 Blackheath

AFTER the disappointment of being excluded from the New Women’s Super League, the T-Birds begin another season in Championship One South.

Champions for 3 out of the last 4 seasons, there is very little to play for, since the Super League is locked for 2 seasons with no promotion or relegation.

That however did not stop the T-Birds, who admittedly were not at their best, but still produced some great Rugby.

Blackheath competed fiercely and were a real nuisance at the breakdown, but Ts gradually got on top. From a midfield scrum, Ts set up to go wide right, but a short inside pop to
Sophie Tyler let her cut a line against the drifting defence and break 2 tackles to open the scoring.

The next 10 minutes were all Thurrock, but they failed to convert a couple of clean cut chances. Trying something different, a grubber though from Ts was half charged down and an unlucky bounce fed it into the hands of the Blackheath’s Gibson, who cut a line though a defence set up for attack and then executed a fine 2 on 1 against the Full Back to put Whitley away for a run in under the posts.

Now 7-10 down the T-Birds rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in and set up camp in the Blackheath 22.

Again poor passing cost a few chances, but from a 5 meter scrum, Blackheath expecting the pushover stayed tight, and Fi Durrance (Jordan) picked up at 8 and strolled over the line.

As Ts exerted more and more pressure, Blackheath’s Wattling at 8 was warned numerous times about offside, finally Referee Allum lost patience and sent her to the bin for an extended half time rest.

Immediately Ts took advantage of the extra space and after dragging the defence to the left touchline, Mercedes Foy collected a midfield pass to stroll through a gap and drag 2 desperate defenders to the floor in the act of scoring.

17-7 looked better at half time, but deciding that they wanted quicker ball, Ts came out firing in the second half and blew Blackheath away in a 15 minute spell.
Taking a scrum against the head on their own 10m line, Thurrock attacked wide right and finally stringing together a number of clean phases Ts overloaded the defence and India Harvey strolled in from 10 m out.

A few minutes later she was at it again, this time, from turnover ball at the lineout on their own 22 Ts attacked straight up the middle sucking defenders in and India Harvey once again displaying her incredible footwork, collected the ball 20 meters inside her own half, slipped between 2 forwards and outran the back 3 cover to dot down under the posts.

After more than a few minutes of unrelenting pressure and a number of penalties the Forwards, obviously feeling left out, executed an almost perfect catch and drive for new T-Bird Leah Dixon to score on her debut.

At 34-7 the match was won and the bonus point secured and Ts visibly eased off. Blackheath however did not. Finally getting some time in the T’s 22, they managed to condense the defence in the middle of the pitch to set up a simple overlap for a fine score.

The last 20 was all Thurrock and played out almost entirely in the Blackheath half, with 2 great opportunities spurned through poor decisions.

As the clock ticked, the Thurrock defence got on the wrong side of referee Allum and 5 consecutive penalties set Blackheath up for one last chance. Taking a quick tap while the referee was still talking to a Thurrock player they were quickly over the line.

Kicking off at 34-17 and only a couple of minutes left, Ts won the ball from their own restart and got within a meter of the tryline before a dropped ball halted the attack, but from a quick tap penalty, Ellie Lawther had a stroll in at the corner to finish the match at 39-17.

Next game this coming Sunday is away at Bath, KO 2.30

Next Home game is against Plymouth on 24th September, keep an eye on the website for KO time.

Team : Hepper, Foy (T), Pugh, Nichols, Franklin, Baker, Dixon (T), Durrance (T), Cook (2C), Harvey (2T), Smith, Tyler (T), Longdon-Hughes, Lawther (T), Parsad. Bench: Duffy, Ferguson, Cook, Stopps, Steele, Shaw

As always, Thurrock Ladies, the T-Birds, welcome new players of any standard to their 2 teams.
No matter how big or small, there is a place for you in a Rugby Team. Many are beginners, playing in their first Season, so don’t be put off if you are new to the game.
We can promise you great training and a great social life. Just turn up on a Wednesday evening at 7.30.


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