Inter Services 2018 RN v RAF
By Keith Humpleby
The Ladies fixture opened the day’s events on the last day of the 2018 Inter Services series at Burnaby Road
The Ladies fixture opened the day’s events on the last day of the 2018 Inter Services series at Burnaby Road. Both sides came into the match on the back of losses to the ever strong Army Ladies and were determined to put on a good performance. This proved to be the case in an entertaining match full of great Rugby and not a little passion.
The home side continue to improve under the guidance of Coach Matt Bowen in his first year at the helm and for the first 11 minutes or so were more than a match for the opponents demonstrating the a new found confidence when in possession with the ‘veterans’ in the side guiding the new faces through the game. The RAF broke the deadlock with a well worked try touching down under the posts making the conversion straight forward enough. A second try for the visitors followed some five minutes later this time on the back of a penalty the RAF touched down out on the right wing and a superb conversion doubled their lead. RN skipper Sam Alderson struck back for the home side with a great solo effort, following her own chip through, never giving up the chase and although it looked to be covered by the defence the ball came loose and Alderson touched down for a Wrenegades score. A further converted try for the RAF came when the replacement Prop showed some great feet to step the RN defence and go over under the post. With the score at 4-18 it was halftime after an entertaining 40 minutes.
The second half saw the RAF extend their lead by a further 12 points but they were made to fight all the way for those points, great performances across the RN Ladies side notably Olivia Critchley at Right wing who was a threat every time she got the ball and on another day some of her breaks would have got her to the try line. Critchley’s efforts in attack were matched by her defensive shift, notably in the second half making three consecutive tackles to deny the RAF any yardage, this all round performance earned her a justified Player of the Match award presented by Mr Mike Crofts from RNRL sponsors Forces Mutual. Another outstanding performance by loose forward Suzie Badger was brought to an end by a serious looking ankle leg injury which ruled her out for the rest of the game, thankfully it may not be as serious as first thought.
With another fixture before the end of the year and more planned for early next year there are very positive signs that Matt Bowen's charges are definitely on the up and if you heard Sarah Jenkins post match words to the players you would be left in no doubt. Ably supported by his Team manager Courtnee Jayde Shipman, Trainer Emma Ochiltree and of course Physio Mark Povey the future does look bright!!
Finally a mention for Andy Smales out going RAF Ladies Coach who is retiring from the game after 23 years as player and coach to concentrate on plans for the transition to civvy street. Our congratulations go to Andy, a great friend across Services Rugby League, at the end of a fantastic career he will be missed!
Wrenegades: Drew Powell, Olivia Critchley, Steph Armstrong, Lilly Adams, Stephanie Coles, Sarah Jenkins, Sam Alderson (C), Lucy Honeybell, Emma Swinton (Vc), Rhian Dilmore, Abby Sondiack, Lauren Beale, Suzie Badger
Replacements: Allanah Pope, Fiona Kilpatrick, Elena Bythell