Inundated with player availability the Ladies were forced to streamline the team sheet to the 22 player limit as they hosted Streatham-Croydon RFC for the first time in the National Challenge 1 League. It was great to see another fantastic show of support for both the Ladies and U18s Girls Cup fixture.
From the kick-off Ashford’s forwards dominated in the scrum and set piece, turning over the ball on multiple occasions. With the majority of possession in the opening quarter, the momentum suddenly shifted after Streatham-Croydon looked to move the ball wide. Unable to contain the visitor’s pacey winger Ashford found themselves two scores down.
Ashford’s continued hard work eventually came to fruition. A quickly taken penalty to Flanker Sarah Glasspool fixed multiple defenders, and a well-executed draw & pass found support runner Leanne Kelly. From 5 metres out the Prop proved unstoppable as she powered through the final defender to go in at the corner.
As the end of the first half came to a close Ashford found themselves back in the 22 defending their own line. Excellent defensive team work around the breakdown repeatedly stopped short multiple waves of pick & go from Streatham-Croydon’s Forwards – until Ashford were able to turn the ball over and relieve the pressure.
The second half saw Ashford’s pack continue to dominate in the scrum, driving the opposition off the ball and winning against the head. Outstanding runs from Centre Kelly Davies and Full Back Kerri Morgan propelled Ashford into the strike zone. Another quickly taken penalty and offload from Glasspool this time found Captain Katie Allen. Hitting the ball hard and at pace the Fly-half used her strength to get over the line.
Streatham-Croydon again used their pace out wide, putting another two scores on the board and extending their lead by 14 points. Despite a number of injuries Ashford were able to refresh their ranks, and determined to get points from the fixture continued to press the attack into the opposition 22. Veteran Liz Adams didn’t take long to find the whitewash after coming off the bench. Using her powerful leg drive the replacement Prop crashed over the line to narrow the margin. Still 2 points shy from securing the losing bonus point Leanne Kelly composed herself for the crucial conversion. Hitting straight and true the ball sailed through the uprights to put Ashford within 7.
Joy almost turned to heartache when Streatham-Croydon’s No.8 picked from the base of the scrum and broke for the line. Full Back Morgan’s last ditch tackle managed to stop her 5 metres out, but couldn’t prevent the skilful offload from the ground. To the relief of the home side a refereeing error had seen the wrong team have the put in at the scrum and play was taken back into the opposition half.
PLAYERS OF THE MATCH
Sarah Glasspool (Forward) & Kerri Morgan (Back)
Photos courtesy of Liz Adams & Sophie Phillips