Rugby Lionesses 19 Cheltenham Ladies II 48
The Rugby Lionesses secured a very well-earned second place in Midlands 2 in their first season of league rugby.
That’s a rather positive opening given the scoreline in their final game but no one would have thought such an inexperienced squad would have done so well as to be playing for the league title and the Lionesses deserve great praise for the spirit and the tenacity of their approach throughout the season.
The Lionesses had been the only team to have beaten champions Cheltenham this season but this time, with the visitors boosted by a very influential first-team player officially assigned to the second team, they had the fluency in their passing and then the pace to stretch the home defence, especially in the second half with a blustery wind behind them.
After the first quarter, the Lionesses were well in the game at 7-10 with their try coming from Hollie Adams converted by Kerry Jackson.
But they were finding it hard to string passes together well enough to free their runners to attack the Cheltenham tryline.
So the all-round strength of the Cheltenham Tigers side brought them more scores to give the visitors a 7-22 half-time lead.
Although they conceded another try on the restart, Rugby then made a real fight of it with every player literally putting their bodies on the line to stem the flow of Cheltenham attacks until the final quarter.
Cheltenham did then score three further tries but, in a real show of defiance, the Lionesses scored twice themselves through Sian Harrison and Hollie Adams with Kerry Jackson’s conversion giving this impressive group of ladies the last word, which won’t come as a surprise to their dedicated supporters.
The Rugby Lionesses have had to work without the presence of their head coach Roger Weddell who has been in Afghanistan for almost the whole season but who has kept fully informed and has sent them inspirational messages. But coach Barry Rees and skipper Gemma Booker have done a superb job in Roger’s absence.
Barry Rees said: “It has been a busy time without Roger with us but I am so proud of how the Lionesses have performed in their first league season. We didn’t tell them but our target was to manage one win and here we are with nine wins and two draws in 14 matches and finishing a close second. Roger will soon be back and we will train this summer and continue to progress from the foundations that we have been building.”
Gemma Booker added: “It has been a pleasure to captain the team this season and I am so proud of what we and the coaches have achieved. We will work hard through the summer to be even better next season. We all send a big thank you to our brilliant and loyal supporters.”