Match Report Sale 1861 Women 24 British Women Police 32
With an evening kick off, and their sights firmly set on making rugby history as the first women’s team to play under the joint banner of Sale FC Rugby and Sale Sharks, it was only fitting that the game was played where it all started at the CorpAcq Stadium. With the team’s rich history based around Sale FC’s year of birth 1861, the Women’s side looked to add this history, by playing a more experienced British Police Women’s side that was full of exceptional talent, coupled with a number of new members to the squad on the night.
The game began at a brisk pace with the Women Police running hard at the Sale 1861 team, it seemed that the more experienced side were going to get the upper hand in the early exchanges, as they ran hard lines at the 1861 defensive line, however with some resolute defending from the 1861 and their own ability to turn the possession over at regular intervals, they never seemed to let the occasion get to them.
The first early chance of any points went the way of the Women Police, as they managed to string phase after phase together before they gave away a penalty for not rolling away at the breakdown, with this error it allowed the Sale 1861 to revitalise themselves and take a breath before they went on their own attack heading towards the Women Police’s half of the field.
Having only had 5 training sessions together, this new look 1861 side were putting some excellent moves together through the excellent midfield trio of Caiomhe Morris, Hannah Birch and Sarah Burns who ran the hard lines to make progress up the field of play, whilst supported by our own pack of warrior forwards, who for the record performed brilliantly throughout the game.
With this forward progression, it allowed Sale 1861 to run the ball at the Police on a number of occasions only to lose the ball due to some excellent turnover plays from the Police side. At this stage the game had remained scoreless, with both sides giving it there all for the cause. This remained so up until the 13thminute when a neat move gave hot stepping prop Keisha Hendricks the chance to run at the Women Police’s try line, allowing Hendricks to score the debut try for the 1861, and the first of her brace of tries on the night for the Sale Women.
After such an exhilarating start for the 1861 Women, it was their turn to apply the pressure to the British Women Police team with them putting pressure on the Police’s defence for a considerable period of time thanks to the hard work and endeavours of Sale 1861’s Bex Wilson, who provided some excellent defensive and attacking threats throughout.
The game was now balanced beautifully, as both sides attacked and defended in equal measures giving nothing away, as the possession went one way and the other with turnovers being plentiful in both open play and at the breakdowns.
In the 22ndminute it was the turn of the Police to open their account through the electric quick Sophie Dowson, who had the power and pace to score in the corner after some missed tackles by the 1861 defensive line, score now Sale 1861 5 British Police Women 5.
At the restart, there was a replacement for the 1861 with hooker Jess Dyer being replaced by Sale FC’s own super mum Suzie Roberts, who’s boys play here at the club in the mini and junior section. This was to be a return to the game for Suzie who had taken a break of 12 years from the game to make her come back and enjoy her first appearance in the blue and white.
From the kick off the play moved briskly once more to the backs, with passes creating space for the 1861 to attack the Police defensive line with, after a number of phases, it was almost a debut to remember for Sale FC’s Louisa Smith as she ran towards the Police line, before being stopped via a high tackle.
From the ensuing penalty Sale missed a golden opportunity to have an attacking lineout, therefore creating a way out for the Police from their more experienced pack via the scrum and their excellent scrum half Ceri Bowen, who took the team the length of the pitch before the Police Women’s side were held up over the line after a wonderful scoring opportunity was foiled from Hannah Jones. This led to the Police having a 5m scrum just on the half hour, creating a scoring opportunity for the impressive Ceri Bowen who went over with ease after the pack had won the scrum possession back at the set piece.
The second score of the evening for the Women Police was followed closely by another, as the Police took hold of this fixture, thanks to the efforts of centre Hannah Jones, who worked hard all evening to ensure that the ultimate victory went in the Police Women’s favour.
At the turnaround it felt like the 1861 were going to have to raise their game a little with the score line in the Police side’s favour, and so they did from the off creating unforced errors from the Police side as they looked to restore some parity to the scoreboard, however this wasn’t to be as they were also forced into errors leading to them now having to defend resolutely to prevent any further scores taking place.
Unfortunately this defensive effort only lasted for eight minutes after the break, when once again the impressive and hard working winger Sophie Dowson dotted down in the corner to further extend the lead of the Police to 20 points to 5.
With this gap on the scoreboard being created, Sale looked like they were done, however they had different ideas, thanks to the ball being turned over easily and No.13 Bex Wilson latching on to a pass to score for the 1861 Women, the extras were added by Caiomhe Morris, and the 1861 were well on their way back to reducing the arrears to just eight points with a quarter of the game left to play.
This lead for the Police Women was increased just a short time later thanks to some excellent interplay from the whole team, creating a driving maul from a penalty lineout that allowed the Women to make the lead 13 points over their newly formed rivals.
As previously mentioned, it was then the turn of the hot stepping Keisha Hendricks to add to her own personal tally of tries from a quick tap penalty, therefore setting up a grandstand finish for the watching public here at the CorpAcq Stadium.
A little while after this, the 1861 Women reduced the arrears even further thanks to our fleet footed winger Megan Kirby dancing over in the corner with just under 10 minutes left on the clock.
With the deficit now being a single point, Sale looked to push on and snatch a debut victory from their more experienced opponents, thanks in part to their forward pack who proudly defended and attacked in equal measure throughout this match. The final score to the match came from the Police women, who were rewarded for their efforts after the 1861 had given away an offside penalty under their own posts.
From the quickly taken penalty the Police Women’s prop No.1 Libby Peak dived over the line for the score, with the extras being added shortly after by No.12 Hannah Sherlock the game ended Sale 1861 Women 24 British Police Women 32.
After the game the 1861 women were buzzing and happy to have been part of this historical match for the jointly partnered clubs, with try scoring Keisha Hendricks adding that “she felt the game was amazing, and the atmosphere was electric and such a wonderful occasion for all to be a part of.”
Further to this Sale FC’s own Suzie Roberts said, “It was such a great experience for me to come back in to the game and enjoy being a part of it, I thoroughly enjoyed the game, but I know that I will feel sore in the morning after such a long time away from the game.”
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