Toon comeback not enough against Birmingham

Hard work but little reward: Newcastle's efforts could not make up for Birmingham's first half onslaught. Source: Amie Walker

Last Wednesday Newcastle Women’s Rugby took the long bus trip to their furthest league foes Birmingham. Despite a few key absences NWR were hopeful that they could acquire their first win, with both teams yet to win a game this season. The game saw many players step up and out of their acquired positons especially rugby fresher Georgia Green conquering flyhalf, and Maddy Wood smashing her second every rugby game as inside centre.

First kick off was to Birmingham, the game started by Prop Gabi McGregor into the centre of the opposition’s 10 metres. Winger Sally Eardley made the first crunching tackle as she flew up and NWR started their onslaught defence, hammering into the Birmingham players. Play stopped momentarily for an injury and was restarted with a Birmingham scrum, both teams battling furiously to secure the ball. With quick hands the ball was quickly shipped to the opposition 12, the quick inside centre carrying well against the Newcastle back line. Thankfully for Newcastle Birmingham conceded an offside penalty, the opportunity quickly taken by scrum half Lightning Teresa McGillivray darting up the pitch. Sadly unable to catch up to the scrum half, Newcastle conceded their own penalty for holding on which lead to Birmingham’s first try by their inside centre.

Undeterred by the try NWR fought back, managing to secure the ball after first kick off. This allowed the blitz of the forward to test the Birmingham defence. Vice Captain Beth Robinson and Number 8 Esther Crompton smashed through the defence followed by Second Row Amie Walker palming player after player into next week.

Unfortunately fast hands on the ball saw Birmingham regain possession but fantastic movement in the line controlled by winger Manuella Aturia and brilliant hits by flanker Ellie Pratt, outside centre Imz Cullen and Robinson saw the ladies not panic. With a fantastic ruck from the Vice Captain, NWR managed to escape their own 22 with a big kick from Walker, causing the Birmingham fullback to knock the ball on. In spite of Newcastle’s brilliant attack and strong defence, little knock ons and Birmingham’s fast wingers saw Newcastle finish the first half on the back foot.

Many forward balls and fast feet from McGillivray saw Newcastle in touching distance from the try line, just metres away from their goal

Half time talks from coach Robert Wood and Robinson emphasised on the ladies slowing down instead of playing at a hundred miles an hour to minimise mistakes and to set up better play. With the words still ringing in their ears Newcastle received the ball from kick off, the attack moving the ball up the field with Maddy Wood playing brilliant passes to forward as she now stood in at flyhalf due to injury.

Winger Sally Eardly showed off her fast feet, her brilliant line cutting through the red wall. Due to a knock on, Birmingham received a scrum in their own half, the red eight running a good line but tackled by Crompton. The defence saw the Second Rows team up, Ellen Jones and Amie Walker almost cutting the red forward in two with the double hit saw Newcastle have the ball to attack again.  Many forward balls and fast feet from McGillivray saw Newcastle in touching distance from the try line, just metres away from their goal.

Their hard work was rewarded when fresher Maddy Wood finished the team try, crashing through the line and putting the ball down. The rest of the second half was played the same way as Newcastle realised the red wall couldn’t withhold their strong carries. With Crompton off with injury, Walker picked as 8 at the scrum from their own half, running through the Birmingham back line and putting Newcastle in sight of the try line again. A drive from the forwards was held up by the awaiting defence and the attack started again. Another pick from Walker on the blindside saw the replacement 8 storm towards the try line. Sadly due to misplacement from the referee Newcastle were denied another score, the try given as a knock on.

First Team Captain Sophie Slater commented;

“Great performance for our first away game. We have plenty to work on but we were up against a great team. Well deserved try from Maddy which was a full team effort….Hopefully we’ll bounce back when we play them again”

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