A small squad travelled to Nuneaton for the first round of the RFUW's cup replacement tournament missing 1st team input from Hannah Bussey, Vanita Henry, Jo Hart, Beckie Morgan, Antoinette Morgan and Michelle Gwynne through illness, absence or injury….and with the old enemy, a very competitive Cheltenham side to face a lack of strength in depth was to prove a tough test for the maroon and light blue Chargers.
First up though was Old Leamingtonians, residing mid-place in the division below, to their credit they gave the National Championship side a great deal of resistance and were suitably rewarded with an early score. But in shaking off the late mornings' chill Camps warmed things up without ever hitting top gear…..the pace of Sarah Whittaker and Jo Kilby proving too much as Camps eased away. Fly-half Kath Adie converted one of four in blustery conditions and Camps were comfortably off the mark with an opening 22pts to 12 win.
Cheltenham, having powered past Midlands' Two East side Nuneaton, readied themselves for what would decide the tournaments' standing with arguably an air of over-confidence, yet following the first few minutes of kick-off such fair was obliterated as Camps exerted themselves physically whilst corralling their pacier backs. It took until the last play of the first 10minute half for Cheltenham's backline to find a chink of space but that was all that was needed as their powerful centre cut through for a well worked try.
With the conversion missed the two teams - who used to face each other in Midlands Division One before being promoted to National Championship One's North and South respectively last season - realigned for the second and deciding 10minutes.
The breakdown was fiercely contested but with Camps edging control the big runners started to find time and space, Olivia Horgan acting as the proverbial bowling ball, sent Cheltenham skittles reeling and with the resultant quick ball coming, quickness of both mind and hands circumnavigated Cheltenham's rush defence. Adie freed Kilby who between them dashed Cheltenham's hopes of clawing back their team's win:lose ratio against Camp Hill (….1:7) as Adie converted Kilby's third of the day and 200th career try to seal a well contested game……(1:8)!
Marvellous cover tackles from Adie and Sheena Larkin were testament to the team's commitment to throwing all but the kitchen sink into this win (had we have one to hand however…..?)
A win against Nuneaton was needed to see Camps through to the next round - the RFUW's National 10s event at Lichfield RFC on the 4th of May - and a win was duly delivered. Lucy Pollard cameoing in the backs grabbed an impressive hat-trick, Captain Becci Lewis rounded off a good day as did Kilby but the 'piece de resistance' came when Kilby drew the defence for scrum-half Elaine Limond to sell the dummy and show a clean pair of heels from 40m out. Nuneaton were rewarded for their endeavour after they reacted quicker to a loose ball but the final score, 34pts to 7 was comprehensive.
Next fixture: 20.04.08 National 10s Finals, Lichfield RFC. KO TBC.
photo Getty Images