RUGBY: Lionsesses roar into next round of cup

Lionesses v Old Newts  (picture Chris White)
Lionesses v Old Newts (picture Chris White)

27-7 victory over Old Newtonians

Lionesses ROAR Louder than opposition in second leg of the Women’s Junior Cup.

The Lioness Pride travelled to league rivals Old Newtonians in Leicester to play the second leg of the Women’s Junior Cup Competition.

With the recent cold and wet weather the pitch stood firm and good running and ball in hand play was on the cards.

The Lionesses were fielding a strong squad proving their strength in team numbers with several Ladies still affected from injury or work commitments. The Pride were eager to perform well and play the rugby that they know they can, and their coaches know they can.

The opening two minutes saw Old Newts Ladies start with a pace that any sprinter would be proud of, strong running lines and a good wide attacking line saw their winger push through from the Lioness 22 to cross in the corner, windy conditions affecting the kick, 5 - 0 Old Newts.

From the restart the game could have gone either way over the next 20 where both sides fought hard for possession, the Lionesses started to build, winning scrums against a physically larger pack, rucking and securing opposition ball. With good phase play and a team effort the Lionesses pressed into the Newts 22 and from a well countered ruck from the 5 meter line opening up the the back line allowing Centre Michelle Ponter over the line, 5 - 5.

The remaining 13 minutes saw both sides moving between the 22 lines attacking strongly and defending like Women possessed. The Lionesses coming off their feet in their 22 at a ruck beneath the posts allowed Old Newts to kick for three points, Half time 8 - 5.

The Lionesses started the second half as if it was the first, the forwards securing good ball allowing the backs to run, albeit not always forwards but possession stayed with the pride, strong attacking lines and power from the pack saw the Lionesses dig in deep to the Old Newts 22, prop Sarah Leighton showed her strength and turn of pace to make her way through the defence to score, 10 - 8 Lionesses.

From the restart the Lionesses secured a 22 with Old Newts putting too much on the kick and it landing dead, the Lionesses cleared their lines and chased the ball as if it was a Gazelle in the open, securing the ball and moving on towards the whitewash, a spirited defence and strong lineouts from Newts delayed the Lionesses from the score that was building but this only allowed for the Lionesses to reset and move yard by yard closer and stand in No.8 Captain Gemma Weddell picked and backed herself over the line. 15 - 8 Lionesses.

The restart again saw the Pride with the opportunity to kick and chase, Old Newts were spirited in their counter but a team effort if defence saw the Lionesses secure good ball, again the scrums were strong and well drilled by the Lionesses winning against the head and saw the centres push up with good running support from the second and back rows up to the Newts 5 metre line. A series of tired Newts defence saw infringements at the ruck and this saw Flanker Kimmie Umney charge through a static line defence to score. 20 - 0 Lionesses.

With nine minutes on the clock the Lionesses were hungry for more and thus showed from the restart, defending well against the Old Newts attack and stayed strong through a period of dogged running lines but denied the Newts Ladies through. Securing the ball into the final 7, the Lionesses were not going to give up and they put in wave after wave of attack, a stretched Newts defence struggled to stop the gain line being broken.

A series of fast poaching, and good handling from the Lionesses saw the back line open up within the 22, allowing a great step from the short pass seeing Centre Zoe Trimm to score beneath the posts, converted by Fly Half Hayley Kavanagh to finish the game 27 - 7 Lionesses. Coach Roger Weddell was proud at the Lionesses display and commitment on the pitch saying: “The whole Pride has been working hard to develop their game, although the League hasn’t quite gone the way we were hoping at this stage, the Ladies still enjoy every moment on the pitch and continue to improve.”

The second win for the Lionesses in the Cup sees them take one step closer to the final round and Twickenham. Who knows where the draw will take the Lionesses but the Pride are showing their grit and passion and hope to show this in 2015 in the League when the home leg starts and continue to press on with the Women’s Junior Cup.