With some big name absentees, and injuries taking their toll, the trip to West Ham to play E London always looked a daunting prospect for the Amazons. Despite that, the scoreline of seven tries to two flattered the hosts, who admitted afterwards the Suffolk side had been their most difficult opponents this season. Kicking off into a stiff breeze, with Canary Wharf dominating the skyline behind them, the travellers began well. Straight away, the new look tight five impressed, with the addition of Katerina Sidders and Alex Saunders in the second row – both playing their first ever games, locking up a solid scrum unit.
A strike against the head by hooker Maggie Kelly resulted in a burst from stand off Claire Brickley, who’s pace clearly shocked an athletic East London back division. She touched down for an early lead and the shocked hosts were given a wake up call, Woodbridge style. East London responded well, their huge props and loose forwards ran hard, often needing several tacklers to bring them down. This led to gaps out wide as players were forced into adding weight to hits, and the writing was on the wall when centre Tamsin Nooney knocked on with the try line beckoning.
Mounting pressure resulted in a two yard splash from the giant C C Cinzenca, the hosts leading scorer. Scrappy play from the restart, with both sides squandering possession, then saw flying winger Kate Webb round the Woodbridge defence and score in the corner. 5-10 and the hosts with their tails up. The physical intensity crept up a notch and the ref had words with Woodbridge prop Victoria Felstein who was the first to react to an East London player pushing the laws past the legal boundaries….
Cincenza scored her second, again from close range to extend the lead to 5-15, and at this point it would have been easy for the Suffolk sides heads to drop. Another long break from Captain Brickley galvanised her side, a try saving tackle from fullback Katie Murphy had the same affect, and it was still game on. East London skipper Ceira Baxter was no slouch either however, and she ended the half with a score of her own. 5-20 at the break.
In the second half the Woodbridge girls really upped their game. The rucking improved considerably, the tackles were lower and more certain, everyone dug deep. Unfortunately, a breakaway try from fullback Rachel Edmeade put paid to thoughts of a comeback. Moments later, scrum half Morven McAlpine, possibly the Amazons outstanding player on the day, made a try saving tackle out wide, only to see quickly recycled possession shipped out the other way, ending in a Nooney score.
Another long range score from Edmeade looked to wrap things up at 5-37, as Sam Leech finally kicked a conversion, but it was the travellers that had the final say when Brickley typified an afternoon of never giving up and fighting to the end. A fabulous break after dummying both her centres saw her through the gap, she gathered her own chip over Edmeade and touched down under the posts for the try of the day.
The final score of 10-37 doesn’t look great, but with three girls new to the sport showing up really well (Kirsty Brierley being the third) and a home fixture next weekend, this defeat could well be viewed as a positive stepping stone for a much more hopeful second half to the season.
“A” for effort ladies