Due to circumstances outside of our control we had to drop down to 13 players. However, we brought our game with us on the bus.
We stood our ground and worked hard through every tackle, scrum and line out. Every single player on the pitch gave their all and we stepped off the pitch not with a win but with a score line of 41-12 to West Norfolk.
Forward of the match: Toni Bell
Back of the match: Our lovely captain Claire Brickley
Report by Morven ‘Morph’ McAlpine
“Following three straight wins in 2019 the Woodbridge Amazons travelled to West Norfolk optimistic, despite their depleted squad of only 13 players. West Norfolk agreed to match numbers, 13 a side, and play began as fast-paced as the previous league opening encounter between these two sides.
The home side won the toss and started strong, making regular forays in to the visitors’ half. The Amazons refused to let in that “easy first try” that they so often gifted their rivals earlier in the season, and they defended their lines solidly to allow Brickley to clear. Another wave of attack was repelled with Frank Saunders bundling the winger in to touch to prevent what looked like an almost certain score. Again, Brickley cleared from the line out. Alas, the west Norfolk sides’ pressure was relentless, eventually breaking through for a score under the posts which was converted, 7-0.
The onslaught continued but stalwart defensive efforts from both wingers, Farah Clay and Kylie Smith, covering the vacant full back position, prevented numerous try-scoring opportunities. Both showed speed and skill to always make that last man tackle! However, good support running and off-loading from the home side allowed them to run in two more tries before the half time. 19-0.
The Norfolk tries did not go unanswered – the Amazons showed grit and determination to work their way back in to the game. Great rucking from the pack and safe hands from the back line, allowed the visitors to march in to the opposition half. A clever pop ball from Brickley at 10 allowed Carmel Leek to break through on a superb line close to the breakdown to run almost half the pitch and score under the posts. Christina Murgatroyd converted to go in to the break 19-7 down.
At half time Frank Saunders reluctantly left the field with a hamstring injury. It was perhaps a nod of respect to the visitors that the home side not only brought on their star player, Libby Lockwood, for the second half but they did not match numbers down to the Amazons’ 12, giving them a player advantage for nearly the entire second half.
The extra player and fresh legs, from the home sides’ substitutes, began to make the difference in the second half with the 12-player Amazons making every effort to defend, but gaps inevitably showed. The West Norfolk side took full advantage of the extra player, running in 4 second half tries. As a testament to the improved defensive efforts of the Suffolk side, every Norfolk try was hard-earned and scored out wide. The Amazons’ refused to let easy tries be run up the middle and simply the natural overlap eventually made the difference. 41-7.
Despite being a player, and 6 tries down, the Amazons’ knew that attack was still the best form of defence. Great runs from Toni Bell and Victoria Felstein straight through the centre of the Norfolk side drew in defensive players. The ball was then shipped out wide through quality handling of Helen Troy and Anna Dewberry to provide clean ball for Kylie Smith to touch down for a well-deserved try, her first in an Amazon’s jersey. 41-12
Ill-discipline from West Norfolk – perhaps borne out of frustration at the Amazons’ refusal to give in – resulted in a yellow card for repeated infringements at the breakdown. For the final 10 minutes the playing field was even again. In the dying minutes of the game West Norfolk again piled on the pressure pushing forward in to the Amazons’ 22. A break through the gaps saw the home side charge to the 5m line but again the visitors’ desire to defend to the very end prevented the try and pushed the home side back and forcing a handling error resulting in scrum Amazons. The last play of the game was now in the visitors’ hands. Captain Claire Brickley, rounding off a back of the match performance, chose to kick the ball to touch, ending a very tough day at the office for a depleted, but extremely hard-working, Amazons side.
The Amazons now need to regroup ready for their home match next weekend against a re-vitalized Lakenham Hewitt side. Amazon’s will be looking to reverse the result of their last encounter with Lakenham, where they narrowly lost 27-24, and return to their 2019 winning ways!”