Thursday, 11 August 2022

Last season’s champions too strong for Abbey Nuns

ABBEY NUNS’ coach Jack Reynolds has hailed the “huge testament of character” displayed by his side despite watching them slip to their third defeat in as many league games, writes Fiona Tomas.

The Nuns fell to a 31-7 defeat against Thurrock RFC on Sunday as they welcomed last year’s league champions to Rosehill.

Facing one of the most established sides in the women’s game, the visitors stormed into a 19-0 lead at the break and put five tries past the Nuns by the final whistle.

But Jack Reynold’s outfit restored some pride courtesy of a late consolation try by Annette Tomas in a game arguably spoiled by indiscipline from both sides, with no less than five players sinbinned.

Facing a team who were denied a place in England Rugby’s elite Tyrrells Premier 15s league last year, the Nuns almost caused an early upset when flanker Pippa Robinson collected a loose ball from kick off and making a good break deep in Thurrock’s half.

But a series of rushed passes resulted in a handling error meant Abbey watched their early chance go begging – a theme which ran concurrently throughout much of the afternoon.

Tries from Thurrock’s India Harvey, Kara Hepper and Siobhan Longdon-Hughes put the visitors in the driving seat at the break.

But forwards Meg Fowler and the tenacious Hollie King kept the Nuns on the front foot and cleverly forced several infringements, which prompted the game’s first of three yellow cards for Abbey’s Essex opponents.

The chances of an Abbey comeback looked all but over when Thurrock capitalised with the extra woman after the Nun’s Lou Burgham was shown yellow. Moments later, a wayward pass in the Nuns’ backline was pounced upon by the replacement Thurrock centre, who was allowed an easy run-in for her side’s bonus point, after which it was Tomas who was sent to the sideline.

A good scrum allowed Alice Denton to make a half-break before executing a perfectly-timed return pass to Tomas, who marked her return to the field with a consolation try for Denton to duly convert.

Speaking after the game, Reynolds conceded his side had made it easy for Thurrock but praised the Nuns’ fearless determination, adding they were more than capable of playing at elite championship level. Reynolds said: “It was another frustrating performance from the girls.

“We gifted Thurrock at least half of their score with errors that killed our game and momentum.

“It was a game where the breakdown wasn’t an issue for us as it has been in the first two games.

“It was also a huge testament of character of the team to keep trying and get that score at the end.

“A lot of teams would have rolled over but we kept fighting and put together the best 10 minutes we have had all season.”

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