Sun 09 Feb

Last Sunday, with the team having coaches Barry and Roger reunited on the touchline, the Rugby Lionesses nonetheless slipped to a second successive defeat, losing 20-10 against a Dudley Kingswinford side who looked far better than their lowly league position would have suggested. Yet they were short of a full team so two Lionesses transferred to Dudley for the afternoon, leaving both sides with just one replacement each in very trying conditions.

The large DK ground has six pitches but, apart from the first-team pitch which was being saved for National 2 league games, only one was playable because of all the rain and the Lionesses’ game was the third on it that day.

As in their previous match, Rugby found themselves playing against the elements in the first half, this time a gale blowing straight down the pitch.

So the Lionesses did extremely well to keep the match scoreless through the first quarter although, as in the previous game, again they were using up a great deal of of their defending their tryline.

Then after 24 and 29 minutes, the much bigger Dudley pack did create scoring chances and the home side had a 10-0 lead at half time which seemed to keep the game within the reach of the Lionesses with the wind behind them in the second half.

Rugby had only rarely been able to free their attack, the main occasion being when Sophie Plackett-Smith made a great break down the wing. Rugby looked less sure-footed in their passing and their work at the breakdowns as well of course as finding secure handling very difficult in the conditions and with the home tacklers exerting great pressure on them.

Against expectation, Dudley lifted their game to new heights, the wind at times dropped in intensity and again Rugby found themselves on the back foot for almost the whole of the second half, DK eventually scoring an inevitable and decisive third try on the hour mark.

Finally the Lionesses managed to make progress towards the Dudley tryline and their most fluent move of the game saw the ball passed from right to left for wing Emily Stafford to get round the Dudley defence for a try for 15-5 on 71 minutes.

Hopes of a late comeback were dashed, however, when Dudley scored again but the Lionesses did get their second try right at the end from skipper Gemma Booker after strong pressure.

Without doubt, every Lioness made a great effort and no one took a single step backwards but the really heavy conditions are proving a problem against opponents with very strong packs.

These teams now meet again this Sunday at Webb Ellis Road (ko 2.15 pm).

Rugby Lionesses: Jackson, Plackett-Smith, Ponter, G Booker, Stafford, Adams, N Morris, Hibberd, T Booker, Leighton, B Morris, Umney, Cawte, Harrison, Sadler. Reps: Maher (for DK: Brady, Withers)

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