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The University of York Women's Rugby Club 1s XV are one of the best sides that York has ever seen, although in this match alone, you wouldn't have assumed that. However, an assessment like that would be entirely unfair, because due to seven players being injured from the match against Manchester Metropolitan the week previous, a vastly altered line-up was set out to take on the league's bottom side Sheffield 1s.
The early stages of the match made it easy to tell that the York 1s were not totally themselves, as Sheffield had the best of the game in the opening ten minutes, the York side rarely getting out of their own half, only for a couple of slight ventures over the halfway line. Once the first ten had run down, York began to settle and started to finally make ground into opposition territory. As the team settled further with the defence standing firm, the side looked to counter down the right wing, where there was clear weakness in the Sheffield back line, which continued to be fruitful for York. Some great interchange passing led to a penalty just beyond the 22-yard line, which was taken quickly, leading to a swift, sweeping pass move from right to left, ending with Alice Ingram finishing the move off with the game's first try, which was not converted.
Sheffield were visibly stirred by their eventual concession and took the game by the scruff of its neck for the remainder of the half, putting pressure again onto the York defence. There was nothing to worry the York backs, who saw the half out leading 5-0 thanks to Ingram's earlier try.
York's capability on the counter attack came into the forefront early in the second half, the team yet again standing resolute in defence and breaking down the left wing, sweeping passes over to the right where winger Deanna Stamp finished off. Again, there was no conversion which didn't prove to be important as York were firmly on top at this point. Their dominance was cast in stone 60 seconds later when scrum-half, Amelia Evans, scored a sucker punch try, which was converted by kicker Emma Lowe, giving York a commanding lead.
This wasn't enough though as the ambitious team went in pursuit of the bonus point on offer for high performance, to aid them in their chase of the Northern 1A title, as well as getting a promotion to the Premier North, which would see them become the highest achieving team in York sporting history. Sheffield sensed that York were at last in the mood for blood and adopted strong defensive tactics, to the detriment of the game's quality, which stagnated entirely for nigh on the remainder of the match.
Just as everybody resigned to losing out on the bonus point, a moment of solo quality from winger, Fran Goss, sparked York into one last lease of life which led to captain and inside centre, Alice Jones, stepping up and dragged her depleted side over the bonus point threshold, much to the delight of the girls eagerly watching on the side-lines. The try was the last action of note in the match, which ended 22-0 to the league leaders York.
The York Women's 1s remain unbeaten this season and look set to achieve their goal of winning the Northern 1A crown, as they sit eight points clear at the top of the table, securing five bonus points along the way, racking up a points difference of +225.
In their two remaining fixtures this term, the Women's 1s will take on the University of Stirling in the quarter-final of the BUCS Rugby Union Cup, followed by another league match, versus Yorkshire rivals Leeds on 28th November.
If the side can get a win against Leeds, who they have already trounced 48-7 this term, they will need to win just one game next term to secure the title and their place in the play-off for the Premier Division. Should they reach that stage, as expected, Nouse will be there to cover their quest for a place in history.
Their performance was not one of their most exciting matches but was an essential display of grit and determination to reach new heights, winning a hard-fought match when fielding an injury-hit side and playing well below their excellent best. This was a display with champions' mettle in abundance.