Women’s National Plate
Pickaquoy, Saturday 18 February 2023
Orkney Dragons 12, Strathmore Women 20
Saturday dawned to produce one of the best days for running rugby that we have had all winter. And my goodness, what a feast of running rugby was served up by the Dragons hosting the women’s team from Forfar, Strathmore, for the first time.
Strathmore fielded a competent looking team, combining pace with power and experience, particularly at half back, and their control in possession early on, enabled the visitors to assert the upper hand in the initial stages of the game. This resulted in the first try of the match after sustained pressure on the Dragon’s line.
The Dragons at this point could not find a way into the game, and with limited possession, spent much of the first period defending. This certainly warmed up the shoulders, and full back Angela Shearer, who had an outstanding game all round, began putting in her first batch of tackles. She would go on to make some 22 in the game overall, with only one missed, stats that would grace Murrayfield.
Once the Dragons had a chance to settle into the match and get their hands on the ball, their combinations in attack began to click. With some powerful carries, with Stacey Tualasea and Nikita Scollie prominent, and the rest of the pack taking their cue from the experienced players lead, they provided ample ball for the backs, with Rebecca Scott controlling matters with her usual aplomb and both centres Hannah Cursiter and Aleisha Womack [one the first products of the girls’ squads to breakthrough to the first team] making inroads into Strathmore’s half. They were nearly rewarded when Hannah broke through the Strathmore defence but was tackled just short.
The rest of the first half ebbed and flowed. Particularly pleasing was the way in which the Dragons were able to retain ball over multiple phases, which in turn, allowed players like Skye Taylor to come more into the game. She proved to be a real handful for the defence when she carried. Stacey and Nikita doggedly continued their bullocking runs, keeping the Dragons on the front foot.
As with the start of the first half Strathmore started the brighter in the second, moving the ball well to the wings and stretching the defence which eventually broke, with the visitors notching a second try. However the Dragons came roaring back and exerted sustained pressure on the visitors line but with no reward.
It was a blow then, after such good attacking to find Strathmore come once again into the game, buoyed no doubt by their successful defence, and proceed to score their second try making the score 10-0.
The Dragons kept up the pressure and we’re beginning to force Strathmore into errors. A penalty advantage in the Dragons favour saw a combined team effort with the forwards rumbling the ball up, a timely call by Rebecca released the backs with Aleisha securing the home side first try. A conversion by Nikita reduced the gap to 10- 7.
Strathmore reacted well to the Dragons successful attack and caught the home side off guard. With fatigue playing a part, the defensive line began to weaken and with great play from the backs, Strathmore were on the scoresheet once again at 15-7.
Nothing daunted the Dragons heads didn’t drop, and they went back on the attack and their pressure finally paid off when a wayward defensive kick was interrupted by the peediest person on the pitch, Captain Donna Wilson who got some fingertips to it, was then beautifully taken on the run by Aleisha and she scampered in without a hand laid on her.
At 15-12 the Dragons could have pressed on but it was not to be. Strathmore girded their loins once more and struck back quickly, this time putting the game beyond the Dragons reach with a well worked try. This proved to be the final score of the game with the visitors running out 20-12.
A fine even game, to grace the conditions with neither team giving any quarter and sustaining a high quality of handling and tackling which did not diminish as the match went on. Credit to both teams for a very entertaining afternoon.
F.M. / D.W.
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