The vase was a new competition created for the teams finishing outside of the top 4 of the premiership, and the final followed a thrilling 15 – 0 away vs Cambridge and took place in Sheffield on “Big BUCS Wednesday”, alongside many other fixtures and finals. We were playing old rivals Leeds who we had played twice in the premiership and were at a stalemate (1 win each) and so this game decided not only who would go home with the vase but also who would go home knowing they were definitively the better team.
NWR were in great spirits before the game, relaxed and confident after their dominant away win against Cambridge. Despite opting to start against a strong wind, the Newcastle girls took first blood with some very collected play: a few impressive carries from forwards gave the backs a good overlap, which winger Charlie Woodman made the most of. She scored the try and scrum half Rosie Neal converted.
Confidence was high and NWR’s dominance continued. They pinned Leeds back in their 22m goal area and would not let up. Nearly letting their excitement get the better of them, there were a few loose balls but they managed to get the ball back and kept their composure. A number of forward balls led to a goal line scramble, with either Number 8 Tash or fly half and captain Shauna Buckley touching down. Clearly it wasn’t a clean try but it was a try none the less.
Leeds woke up after 30 minutes and put some pressure on Newcastle. Luckily, a well worked “escape plan” paid off better than could be expected for the Nubiles. A box kick from Neal was chased by Woodman and the poor Leeds fullback opted to tapping it over her head on the touch line – keeping it in. This bounced perfectly for long-legged Woodman who cantered under the posts. It was an easy conversion for Neal.
The second half brought more pressure from Leeds who managed to score a try – despite getting a player sinbinned for punching our little VC Olly Critchley – and hold Newcastle off for the majority. But not entirely. In fact, in the dying minutes, NWR played some smart rugby in Leeds’ 22m zone. Drawing them one way and then the other, finally, captain Shauna spotted some space on the blindside and called for the ball. Rather than catching it she threw it over her head in a blind Stuart Hogg-esque manner and found hooker Elle Bloor on the wing who finished the move off nicely. The conversion was too difficult for the teams ageing kicker who is approaching retirement.
The game ended on that high note for the Nubiles with a score of 24-7 and a lovely piece of silverware for the Newcastle cabinet.