A well traveled and rested team arrived at Hartlepool's Mayfield Park having stayed locally over-night, but with Hartlepool's much improved home form in evidence and a referee that hampered continuity on what was a firm but sticky pitch, the Chargers' expectations of a repeat performance were quickly extinguished.
Camps' had the brighter start but it was a lack of composure when needed most that allowed unforced errors to dominate. Twice the away team challenged and twice they spurned their chances, a chip 'n' chase from fullback Jo Kilby was grounded within the in-goal area, but Hartlepool having not marked the dead-ball line breathed a sigh of relief as the referee was unable to give benefit of the doubt. The Chargers eventually took 3pts from the opening exchanges courtesy of a well struck Kath Adie penalty from 20m out.
Hartlepool's excursions into Camps' territory in the first half were limited but easy yards were gifted via consecutive penalties, whether questionable or not, there was no excuse for the away team's lack of focus during this spell. When finally put to rights the defensive line was able to contain Hartlepools' consolidated efforts but conceded a shot at goal which was dutifully converted by 'Pool's tenacious scrum-half and Captain, Emma Lloyd. Half-time: 3-3.
With their season arguably in jeopardy Camps' Chargers took control of the game straight from the second half's kick off, outside centre Hannah Bussey linking well with fly-half Beckie Morgan who released Kilby for a 60m try to break the deadlock, with Adie coolly slotting the extras, 3-all became 10-3 and day-light was brokered at last. Solid work in the loose from the industrious second-rower Michelle Gwynne and flanker Sheena Larkin, replacing the injured Antoinette Morgan, continued driving the claret and light blues forward, but it was again poor execution that provided 'Pool respite as opportunities went begging.
The home side, sensing Camps' frustration, reacted accordingly and pushed down the sloped pitch with conviction. With the ground soft under-foot their pack worked tirelessly for a push-over try and although the Chargers' took a yard they would concede no more as their last line held firm under trying circumstances.
Special mention must go to debutante Claudinha Leal-Freitas, Camps Hill's Brazilian sevens specialist, who has shown remarkable proficiency in adapting to the 15-a-side game so quickly.
Next game: 17.02.08 versus league leaders Darlington. The Sharks haven't had it all their own way over recent months, despite their pedigree, so with this in mind Camps' will be eager to address a few lessons learnt from their previous fixture when the Sharks came out clear victors, 45pts to 11. For more information please visit www.chrfc.co.uk (ladies pages).
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS