Only fans of wind turbines and kites would have enjoyed Sunday's trip to Swardeston, Norwich, as what seemed like gale force winds struck the hosts exposed hill-top rugby pitches with no consideration for anything un-rooted.
In the Chargers 9th game of the season, a hard-working victory was duly rewarded in conditions that left little room for flowing rugby. With a biting wind-chill added for good effect, handling errors were liberally scattered to deny both teams the opportunity to move the ball with any reliable width or speed.
Despite the conditions it was the maroon and light blues that were the happier of the two sides after an early score put them in the driving seat - front and second row duo Sian Williams and Jo Ryan respectively opting for route one with pick and drive carries which maneuvered the home side into striking distance. With retention positively afforded, scrum-half Vanita Henry released half-back partner Beckie Morgan who delayed her pass to feed fullback Jo Kilby through the gap for her 10th try of the season on her 150th club cap appearance.
With the need for territory crucial and squally conditions favouring Camp Hill (in the first half), an aerial assault on the home side's last line of defence proved effective. Lakenham fullback Dawn Manhertz admirably tidied for her team in the main but outside centre Hannah Bussey's banana kick proved too challenging as the effective chase and resultant turn-over facilitated further Camp Hill points - this time for no. 8 Antoinette Morgan, who registered her first touch-down of this year's National Championship One (North) campaign with what was almost a signature move: strength and power taking her through the cover, footwork and balance taking her over the line. With inside centre Kath Adie having already surrendered her first kick at goal to the elements, the second conversion sailed through the posts (shortly before leaving for orbit) giving Camps an honest 12-0 lead at the half-time whistle.
With the change of end came the change in wind and with that the difficulties the home side had earlier faced. Passing became a jeopardy and kicking for relief was in itself a relief only when managed. Sheer forward's persistence granted each team some success in the game's final third, but with Lakenham lacking the dynamism to break-down Camps' organised defence, and Camps lacking the ability to maintain possession the game succumbed to nothing short of a bloody-minded arm wrestle - which both packs, notably flanker Lucy Pollard (in a dogged player of the match performance) and second rower Olivia Horgan, seemed to enjoy.
Better tactical awareness and execution might have yielded some more positives, but in conditions that conspired against pace and flight, Camps' can be pleased that they were able to adjust their focus to parry Lakenham's forward-centric game.
Latest news: Vale of Lune caused arguably the shock of the season by slamming the league's leaders, Darlington Mowden Sharks 24-0 away from home this Sunday! The Sharks were cruising NC1N having racked up 395 points in just eight fixtures whilst conceding only 46 against. Complacency and injuries on their part seem to be the telling tale, whilst determination and a re-strengthened Lune side counters. What is known though is that although Vale have done Camp Hill a small favour, it is only from the top down as Vale are now closing in on the Chargers and with a game in hand could close the gap to a single point. Current standings are: Sharks 40 pts played 9, Camps 35pts played 9, Vale 29pts played 8.
Next up: the Chargers now prepare for what will be another physical encounter, away to Liverpool's Waterloo Ladies (09.12.07) - the fourth placed team (to Camps' second) will be keen to redress the balance following their 36-5 dismantling in Oct.
For more information please visit www.chrfc.co.uk (ladies pages).
photo Cheltenham jockey club
photo Cheltenham Racecourse