Biggy Ladies defeat Harpenden19th March 2019
Harpenden Ladies 5 – 29 Biggleswade Ladies
Biggleswade Ladies notched up their fourth away win of the season on Sunday in changeable conditions ranging from bright sunshine to driving hail.
The game, at Harpenden Ladies, was Biggleswade’s first experience playing on a 4G pitch, and despite an early meet-up to acclimatise, Biggy looked out of sorts at the start of the match.
Harpenden were more switched on and organised. The home side got a quick score, creating a breakaway try after they worked the ball out wide from a turnover.
That shook Biggy into action and forced them to focus, with flanker Bev Horsefield powering through Harpenden’s forwards on the 22 and showing great speed to run on and plant the ball under the posts. Captain Charlie Field’s conversion put Biggy two points ahead.
Biggleswade were still not firing on all cylinders, though, lacking urgency in the ruck and not pressing up enough on the opposition.
Harpenden tried again to work the ball out and down the wing but fullback Holly Crawford made the first of several great covering tackles, racing across to take out the danger player.
Biggy finally began to play a more structured game, with kick and chase work allowing Biggleswade to pile on the pressure. The backs were putting together some excellent running lines, with just the final pass going astray. Lock Claire Watson, back in the side after injury – and raring to make some trademark big carries – drove through and over the line, only to see Harpenden hold the ball up.
Points came after winger Chloe White scooped up a loose ball knocked out of the opposition’s hand in a tackle. She linked up with centre Anna Kolańczyk who looped and passed to give fellow centre Nikki Plater the opportunity to plant it over the line. It was a nicely worked move, but Biggy’s next try was even better, coming after an excellent few phases of play.
Biggleswade set up a great catch and drive maul from lineout in their own 22, feeding the ball back to Charlie who made an inch perfect kick down the wing. Chloe chased and collected, stood up strongly to the tackle, and got great support from the chasing Anna. Bev called for a quick offload as she belted through at pace, to take Biggy to just a few metres from Harpenden’s try line. The ball was passed out of the ruck to prop Connie McGinlay who sucked in a hoard of Harpenden defenders as she almost smashed her way through, and then managed to offload to flanker Emma Merrett, who took the ball off her toes, scampered the remaining few steps, and grounded it between the posts. Charlie’s conversion made the half time score 19-5 to Biggy.
Biggleswade piled on the pressure at the start of the second 40, getting in some big tackles. Harpenden were struggling with numbers, and Biggy had already lent them one player to make the game 15-a-side in the first half, but thanks to a couple more injuries, three Biggy players ended up facing their own team – leading to some pretty competitive teammate on teammate tackles! At one point all four props on the pitch were Biggleswade players, so some fun was had in the scrums.
Jo ‘Show’ Franklin, in her first game for a while, made some good runs – grinning the entire time, as usual, even when tackled.
Biggy’s handling improved and their next try was straight off the training pitch – a strong catch and drive from the lineout was followed by the ball being fed neatly to the backs who showed good hands along the line right across the pitch. After some nifty looping, Holly capped off one of her best performances in a Biggy shirt with a well-deserved try in the corner.
No 8 ‘Irish’ Amy Schiller, made a gain line-busting carry, thundering down the pitch from the halfway line to the 22, encouraged by teammates shouting: “Do it for St Patrick!”, but she was tackled before she could score, thus depriving spectators the chance to see her do a celebratory Riverdance.
Harpenden were by no means making it easy, forcing breaks of their own through Biggleswade’s defensive line, which was having what could kindly be described as a ‘wonky’ day. Biggy were properly on point with their tackling, though, with Charlie, Chloe, Connie & Nikki all making full-on, last-ditch tackles to save scores.
It was Biggy who got the final points, with Chloe White taking advantage of an overlap and using her pace to finish off a backs move.
Final Score: Harpenden Ladies 5 – 29 Biggleswade Ladies
Forward of the Match was Emma Merrett (sponsored by Ai Networks) for her first ever try.
Back of the Match was Holly Crawford for a fantastic fullback performance.
– Special mentions go to the Biggy players who pulled on Harps shirts at various points: Steph ‘Food’ Cooper, Penny George, Leigh ‘Hulk’ Frost and Drea Lee. Drea gets extra bonus points for doing so for the second time this season, and Steph gets points taken away for tackling three of the Biggy side – including the author of this report – in the first five minutes.
– Heartwarming moment of the match was Biggy’s Ellie Reeve bonding on the sidelines with a Harpenden squad member when they discovered that during the season they’d both had their leg broken by the same Harps player.
– Self medication award of the match goes to Carolyn ‘Willy’ Drake for going off with a mashed up hand and treating it mainly with beer.
photo credits: Carl Wolfenden