St Francis Ladies started the season with a win in their new league, narrowly defeating Worthing Ladies 15-12. Starting the match confidently, St Francis penetrated the Worthing defensive line with a series of close, crash balls. Roberts narrowly missed putting St Francis ahead in the first ten minutes of the match after making an excellent run through the Worthing defence. St Francis were unable to capitalize on this and Worthing put the home team on the back foot by kicking confidently into space. However, the hard work St Francis have put in over the summer paid off with the backs tracking back to counter attack, and once again St Francis were in possession moving steadily up the pitch.
The first half saw St Francis constantly taking ownership of the match, capitalising with a try from Morgan which was delivered after a rousing team effort to take the ball up the pitch and across the game line. Strong team play and dominant possession saw two further tries added by Searle and Pulford, with Pulford making a vigorous crashing run on the counter attack to secure the third try. Sloppy play at the breakdowns, and a lack of discipline, saw St Francis give away unnecessary penalties and ultimately punished having one player sent off. The first half was marred by a second sending off from the St Francis team for a high tackle. With the home team down to thirteen players, Worthing were growing in confidence. Playing with thirteen saw St Francis have to change the line-up, moving Baxter-Carter in to cover flank leaving the home team two down in the back line. Nonetheless, St Francis continued to contest well at the scrum, with a sterling effort from Radwell in at prop and the industrious flanker Rees delivering tackle after tackle when St Francis were on the back foot.
The second half saw St Francis back to fourteen players and on the defence to a Worthing team who had found their rhythm in the match. Two injuries to the Worthing line up saw the scrums go uncontested playing into the hands of the fast Worthing backs. Worthing were able to utilise the extra space out wide to good effect, putting two tries in quick succession past the home team. St Francis soon went back up to full strength with fifteen on the pitch, but the final whistle was welcomed with St Francis holding on to what had become a narrow lead after such a strong start to the match.
St Francis produced plenty of classy moments but they also threw in a host of handling errors that prevented them from capitalising on what was a dominant display of possession. The win was the result of a solid team effort from everyone on the pitch, and the team have laid solid foundations for what promises to be a challenging and rewarding season.
Team: Jen Radwell, Laura Webb, Emma Reakes, Lauren Roberts, Mandy Thompson, Charlotte Jennings, Ruth Rees, Anita Morgan, Naomi Searle, Sian Lewis, Katie Mouskos, Kiri Baxter-Carter (C), Alison Pulford, Steph Shackel, Emma Grsiman, Dee Croft-Webb, Louise Trevis.