Image Credit: Dom Smith
In what was a tight game throughout, Derwent women were marginally beaten 2-1 in the women’s touch rugby.
Thee rules of touch rugby made for a hectic and enjoyable watch for anyone new to the sport. The quick turnovers gave the feel of a back-and-forth basketball game, rather than of traditional rugby. The game started at a breath-taking pace with Derwent’s Sophie Bulley having a try ruled out in the first minute as she planted the ball down before the line. This did little to knock Derwent spirits, however, as the talismanic Amy Owens darted down the left wing to score a well taken try with only three minutes on the clock.
After such a frantic start the first half then became somewhat cagey with St Cuthbert's (Cuths) seeing most of the ball and Derwent attempting to play on the counter. Both defences were standing strong and neither side seemed able to break the defensive line, despite Cuths possessing a fleet of strong ball-carriers.
Half-time soon came and both teams made a series of substitutions which opened the game up completely. Cuths came racing out the blocks to immediately heap pressure on Derwent who initially seemed a little disjointed from the changes which saw Owens and Lauren Craig both leave the field.
Cuths’ early intensity in the second half paid off with quick-ball down Derwent’s right flank resulting in the Durham College battling within 5 metres of the try line. Derwent’s stubborn defence could not hold out to prevent the equaliser 2 minutes into the second half.
At 1-1 it was all to play for. The next six minutes proved crucial as Owens returned to the fray momentum seemingly shifted back towards Derwent. After a flurry of attacks however, the York college were unable to convert pressure into a goal. The quick-footed Georgie Lynch provided some bright sparks on the right wing though was not fed enough chances to make difference. Despite Derwent’s good possession Cuths hit them on the counter with a lung-busting run from their no. 20 resulting in a scramble across the line to make it 2-1 to the away side in the 21st minute. An admirable solo effort.
With little under ten minutes left Derwent cranked up the pressure, cheered on by a faithful blue and black crowd. Lynch made a few more threatening forays into the Cuths’ backline, however the final pass continued to elude the York offensive.
Derwent were unfortunate not to find an equaliser the closing stages and as the referee blew his whistle the home crowd recognised their team’s efforts with warm applause and shouts of encouragement.
Cuths’ Captain Katy Moran praised her team’s “intensity in the second half and ability to turn the game around.” As first-timers at the sport, they have every right to celebrate. Meanwhile her Derwent counterpart Charis Champress remained optimistic for the club’s future emphasising “inclusivity over competition” as well as praising an “amazing turnout” from her loyal supporters. The Derwent coach was more business-like recognising that “with training and experience, improvement will come.” The referee, who had a stellar performance, summed up the occasion; “it’s great to see the women’s game being promoted and becoming more popular.” Women’s touch rugby may not draw the same crowds as a men’s rugby or football varsity match, but, with the commitment and enthusiasm shown by the crowd and players, the sport has bright future at York.