Abbey Nuns into winning habit with opening day success
GOOD attacking rugby marshalled by newcomer Kirstyn Greenfield and returning Natalie Bow helped Abbey Nuns overcome
GOOD attacking rugby marshalled by newcomer Kirstyn Greenfield and returning Natalie Bow helped Abbey Nuns overcome a stubborn Richmond Ladies 3rd side on the opening day of the National Challenge South East West Division 1 season.
Despite some scrappy opening exchanges, the breakthrough came on the 12th minute when a solid scrum from the Abbey forwards on the half-way line allowed scrum-half Ellie Rice to feed Annette Tomas, who tore through a gaping hole in the Richmond defence, managing to shake off a last-ditch tackle five metres before the try line to touch down.
The Nuns wasted no time in pressurising the Richmond defence from the re-start to continue enjoying possession. Skipper Meaghan Fowler, playing her debut league game this season as Nuns captain, opened up the Richmond defence, carrying the ball some 10 metres before going to ground. The Nuns were efficient in supporting lock Harriet Robson in the next carry and Rice found Denton who went over for her first converted try to put Abbey in control at 14-0.
The home side were rewarded for their possession on the half-hour mark when a well-worked penalty line-out allowed the Richmond flanker to drive at the Abbey defence and pull a try back for the London-based team to reduce the gap to seven points. Tish Maybanks resisted a number of tackles to help fan the ball across to Denton who charged at the defence, side-footing three defenders to score her second under the posts, which she then converted to make it 21-7.
Spurred on by their third try, Abbey immediately won a penalty not long after the re-start after a Richmond knock-on and quick hands from Joey Fowler and Rachel Purvey set off Natalie Louise down the left wing who proved too fast for the Richmond defence, scoring Abbey’s fourth try on the stroke of half-time.
After pressurising a Richmond scrum early in the second half, Abbey won back possession from open play with Denton, who was able to dart through an unorganised Richmond defence and finish under the posts for her hat-trick try.
Richmond responded strongly and Abbey’s backs were caught napping as a player burst through and reduced the arrears to 31-12 with the conversion missed.
The start of the second half saw three tries in 10 minutes. It was Abbey, however, who extended their lead when Greenfield won a turnover ball with 20 minutes remaining and offloaded to Tomas who took no prisoners in accelerating through a gap to score her second try, only for Denton’s conversion attempt to bounce off either post before going wide. Richmond gained back possession again, winning a penalty from a period of poor Abbey rucking. The Richmond number 10 wasted no time in storming down the left flank from just outside Abbey’s half and stepped through a series of missed tackles to go over and score.
An Abbey scrum on the edge of Richmond’s 22 eventually found Tomas, who opened up the defence to run in and score a hat-trick try. Minutes later, Tomas was involved again, linking up with Joey Fowler who, trialling a new position at inside centre, found Denton who in turn sped down the right-hand wing to score Abbey’s sixth try. The Berkshire centre converted with the last kick of the game to complete the win.