Match Report – Women’s National Championships SE North 1 – Woodbridge Amazons 5 v Southwold 10 – Sunday 24 January 2016
This top of the table duel between local rivals Woodbridge and Southwold certainly lived up to its billing and proved a fantastic advert for women’s rugby in East Anglia.
Full of passion and sometimes ferocity, it was a shame indeed that one side had to lose. Unfortunately for the hosts, the Swallows again came out on top, and in the bitterest of ways. Nearing the end of a magnificent clash, former Amazon Emma ‘Magic’ Johnson scooped up a loose ball after sustained Woodbridge pressure, and sprinted 70 metres to break the 5-5 deadlock.
Until then the rugby had ebbed and flowed between these two powerhouses of their division. The Swallows were coming off a shock defeat to Wymondham last week, while the Amazons were eager to avenge their only league defeat thus far.
The first half saw the hosts on top for 15 minutes, until the visitors began to enjoy some possession of their own. It was clear neither side would give an inch, Woodbridge skipper Claire Brickley was inspiring playing at Centre, with Coach Jane Stokes in Brickleys usual number 10 jersey, and Anna Dewberry inside her at 12, halting every Swallows outside attacks. The inside ball was fiercely contested, both packs going at each other hammer and tongs, with young Jess Delaney first to every tackle and breakdown. The only score of the half came after a period of sustained Southwold pressure, fly half Jay Ash darted over from 5 yards out after a 5 metre scrum. Bea Moore missed the conversion and an uncompromising half ended 0-5.
The second half started just as the first had, with the hosts in the ascendancy. After a series of attacks, Dewberry ran left and swatted tacklers aside before being halted just a metre short. Great support ensured possession and the diminutive figure of Amazons scrum half Morvern MacAlpine sniped her way over in the corner for the tying score. The difficult conversion from the touch line was just wide from Stacy Robinson but it was now game on!
Both sides somehow upped their game, and it was a joy to watch at times as not one player eased off a hit, tackle or ruck. Carmel Roisin repeatedly made inroads into the visitors half, Jenna Ray looked great with ball in hand, but Southwold defended bravely.
Chantelle Gallagher always looked threatening for Southwold but it was Johnson that broke the deadlock when she out-sprinted everyone after picking up a ball knocked from Brickley’s grasp.
Angela Wadham missed the conversion to set up a frenetic last few minutes when wave after wave of Woodbridge pressure was repelled until the final whistle was greeted with cries of relief from the league leaders, and utter exhaustion from the gutsy hosts.
This was truly one for the ages.
Woodbridge Amazons 5 v Southwold 10