St. Francis RFC 15-20 Ashford RFC
Tries: L.Kelly, S.Glasspool, H.Sweatman, E.Hamlet
After narrowly missing out in the previous week’s encounter, Ashford Ladies were in desperate need of a lift as they continued their mid-table battle away at St. Francis RFC.
Arriving with a lean 16 and a reshuffled back line Ashford found early fortune from turnover ball on the opposition 5 metre line. Covering Fly-half Kelly Davies shipped out wide to Prop Leanne Kelly who – despite the mis-match – stepped the opposing defender for the opening score.
A penalty at the close of the half saw St. Francis’s powerful No.8 put her shoulder down and charge for the line. Hooker Cheryl Wharton fully committed absorbed the full impact of the collision, buying her teammates time to repel the attack. Determined defending over the line prevented St. Francis from grounding the ball, unfortunately Ashford were unable to keep the hosts at bay as the resulting scrum provided the home side’s backline the opportunity to level the score.
‘Ashford Flankers Emma Hamlet and Sarah Glasspool continued to impress as a Back Row pairing. Hamlet cutting down the opposition Forwards, Glasspool repeatedly getting hands on the ball to draw the penalty.’
A second-half penalty gave Captain Katie Allen the option to put the Forwards within 5 metres of St. Francis’s line. Executing a text book catch & drive from the lineout, Scrum-half Laura Charter directed the unstoppable maul over the try line and Flanker Sarah Glasspool dropped on cue.
Again the hosts balanced the scales; this time St. Francis’s Scrum-half lucked out after hacking a loose ball up field. Giving chase the 9 managed to toe the ball through just before the covering defence could fall on it.
The momentum stayed with the home side and another score took them ahead. Undeterred Ashford maintained their composure and continued to apply pressure through strong forward play. Edging closer and closer to the line the hosts defence soon became fragmented, eventually conceding the penalty. Allen alert to space down the short side went quick; drawing the nearest defender the Fly-half popped to Hannah Sweatman on an arcing run and the Centre crashed over to draw even.
Not content to settle with the draw Ashford again pressed deep into the oppostion’s 22 and forced the error. Another quickly taken tap penalty from 5 metres out saw Flanker Emma Hamlet sail through unopposed for the winning score.
In a dramatic conclusion St. Francis had once last stab at stealing the win before the clock went red. After the Referee had called final play, Ashford managed to knock back the opposition lineout throw. Charter scrambling to recover the loose ball, finally gathered and kicked the ball out to conclude the game. In an odd turn of events the Referee again stated ‘Last Play’ and Ashford found themselves defending another lineout. St. Francis this time went through the phases, finally puncturing the Ashford defensive line, and from 15 metres out it looked as though the home side might deny the visitors the win. Fearlessly Full Back Kerri Morgan put her body on the line in a huge covering tackle causing St. Francis to spill the ball forward, bringing forth the final whistle and securing a morale boosting victory.
Players-of-the-Match: Forward Cheryl Wharton | Back Laura Charter
All match photos courtesy of Dave Burt Photography sfrfcphotos.co.uk