The Women’s Rugby 1s were again the ‘one to watch’ fixture for this week’s round of BUCS matches, and with very good reason. Before the game the team knew that if they beat their opponent, Leeds Beckett, by a bonus point scoreline, then just one point in their next match seals their place in the play offs for promotion to the Premier Division.
The team came out of the blocks flying in all areas except scrummage, York collapsing one scrum and then losing another after a try attempt was held up by the Beckett defence. All the early pressure was coming from York, with Beckett struggling to get any type of foothold in the game.
Shortly after the held up try, York produced a fruitful move, moving the ball swiftly and confidently from right to left where Liv Almond received the ball and slalomed through the Beckett back line to score beneath the posts. The try was converted by kicker Emma Lowe and the first half onslaught began.
Moments later, Almond was through again, placing the ball down for an unconverted try to drag York closer to the much-craved bonus point. Shortly after the second came the third, scored by Alice Ingram after a great drive through the middle, again this try was not converted but that mattered little as York had amassed a 17-0 lead in under 15 minutes.
York didn't let up and secured their BP with a beautiful sweeping move that gave winger and Rebekah Maher a try scoring chance, which she dutifully took. The conversion was very narrowly missed as some less experienced kickers shared the chance to hone their in-game techniques, a luxury York could afford given their dominance on the scoreboard, leading at this point by 22-0.
The floodgates were not just open, they had been completely blown off the hinges,York scoring a converted fifth, followed by hat-trick securing sixth by Almond with a Lowe conversion. The hinges actually disintegrated when a seventh try was expertly set up by the outstanding Almond, who picked up the ball and pulled off a powerful solo drive through the forlorn Beckett side to set up the chance, with some excellent, quick and delicate hands putting captain Alice Jones in to take the home team in to half time leading by a massive 41-0.
Surely more of the same in the second half? Not exactly…
Very early on in the second half, York were awarded a penalty try after the Beckett 11 was sin-binned for dangerously pulling Jones down by her neck and denying a clear try scoring chance, which the watching faithful believed to be the start of a total landslide.
Beckett pulled themselves together well however, perhaps encouraged by York easing off the accelerator with an important cup game against Sheffield to come next week. The Beckett pressure paid off with a gritty try, which remained unconverted but placed the visitors gratefully on the scoreboard.
Motivated by their eventual and surprising try, Beckett kept up their assault on the York try-line, launching attack after attack, testing York’s defensive concentration in a manner unfamiliar to a side so dominant at the top of the Northern 1A league. The hosts managed to avoid another concession by heeding their captain’s loud advice from the sidelines and holding up a try attempt.
The concentration eventually lapsed though, the Beckett 10 breaking through to score a try that was converted well. The scoreboard now read 48-12, which was not foreseen by anyone present after such a dominant first half showing.
The York tackling during this period left a lot to be desired, players trying to tackle high on opponents with considerable strength behind them, which naturally was not an effective way to stop them. As a result of tackling errors, Beckett notched a third try which was not converted, leaving the match at 48-17 and the home team in need of a major regroup. An injury to an away player gave them the perfect opportunity to refocus and prevent what would have been an embarrassing collapse.
The turning point came when Almond produced a monumental tackle on Beckett’s largest and strongest player, preventing a fourth away try and easing considerable pressure. Not only did she save a try, she then proceeded to pick the ball up and drive the team up over the halfway line and toward the opposing try line, leading to an important, settling try for the black and gold ladened XV, which was not converted.
Beckett’s momentum had evaporated entirely which York took advantage of by scoring again swiftly, Emma Lowe converting the try with the last kick of the match as the full-time whistle blew on a topsy-turvy game.
The final score was 60-17, all but securing York’s slot in the Premier Division play-offs. Nouse Sport will be at the crucial match v Manchester 1s on the 13th March, as we continue to shine light on York’s best performing and highest ranked team.