The Amazons prepared for the visit of Lakenham Hewett on Sunday in need of a morale boosting victory, and that’s just what they got!
The Norfolk ladies have taken great strides of late, and enjoyed their first win against the Amazons last season, putting extra pressure on this seasons Woodbridge squad. On Sunday however, without their talismanic flanker Jenna Ray, who was absent observing the concussion protocol, the hosts boasted a terrific line up and began the brighter.
Early pressure saw Claire Brickley go close after a Lakenham penalty, and the opening salvo’s were all inside the visitors 22. Further pressure saw the ball worked wide to birthday girl Beth Clapson for the first try of the match. 5-0.
After that early pressure the play evened out with both sides enjoying possession. It quickly became evident that the Woodbridge tight five were far superior at scrummaging than their Norfolk counterparts, and that platform would prove crucial as time passed. The Woodbridge backline also looked dangerous with ball in hand. The blunt instruments Helen Self and Anna Dewberry proved powerful inside runners, while the sheer speed of Clapson, Brickley and outside centre Sophie Henry threatened whenever the play went wide.
It was Henry that doubled the score when she outpaced the defence on an arcing run after another solid scrum, 10-0.
With the bit between their teeth now, another Woodbridge score looked likely as the half ran down. Fullback Kat Mead was just inches short before the referee called time.
A ten point lead at the turnaround looked comfortable for the hosts, particularly with the set piece dominance, and as the second period got underway the Amazons felt confident. It proved a little too confident though because Lakenham quickly claimed their restart, drove forward to inside the hosts 22 and forced a penalty. A charge from prop forward Chloe Halliwell went unchecked and she reduced the arrears with a try to shock everybody there! 10-5.
Woodbridge coach Woody Woodgate rang the changes and subs were introduced at regular intervals. Nicky Craigie played with real promise in just her second game, while the returns of Kara Murphy and Paula Donnelly boosted an already dominant pack.
A burst from Clapson down the sideline set up Henry, and with Mead closely in support a try looked certain. Fullback Alana Carpenter did her job though and stifled a score. From the resultant scrum Morven McAlpine looked to have scored, only for the referee to change his mind to say the ball was held up. Another scrum and the ball was worked left only for Henry to have another score disallowed as the referee deemed it a double movement.
Those near misses brought out the character in the Amazons side and, rather than rue those harsh decisions, they ramped up their play further. Speeding the game up considerably, the forwards led by Kat Sidders in particular, drove into the Lakenham defenders and rucked well. The quick ball that provided ensured the Norfolk side were constantly on the back foot. A flowing move that involved Brickley, Self and Mead ended in another try for Henry that emphasised the Amazons dominance in the second half.
The match ended with the hosts enjoying a 15-5 victory, sweet relief after a poor start to the season, but judging by this performance the ladies look to be on an upward curve and the squad will travel to Southwold next week in a much lifted mood.