Lionesses 10 Stafford 10Sun 22 Sep

Rugby Lionesses 10 Stafford Ladies 10


The Lionesses maintained their unbeaten record in the league this season but this was a far harder test of their resolve than their resounding win in Cheltenham a week earlier.


It is impressive to see the focus and commitment of the Lionesses from the extensive warm-up routine through the entire 80 minutes and this was needed against a strong Stafford side who matched Rugby in terms of strength and skill in most parts of the pitch.


Rugby dominated possession and territory for the opening minutes without finding the cutting edge to make their advantage count. Throughout the game, their forwards, led by LouiseKowalewska-Fry, made strong runs into the Stafford defence. But often Rugby failed to bring width into their attacks, especially on the right where Emily Stafford was starved of possession  - although any shouts of “Give it to Stafford” would have been confusing.


Stafford Ladies then enjoyed their spell of territorial advantage in the Lionesses’ 22 and they managed to come away with an unconverted try for 0-5 after the first quarter.


When the Lionesses did show some good handling along the line, they came within a metre or so of the tryline only to be repelled until, on the half hour, Sophi Kowalewska-Fry levelled the score with her own unconverted try.


Further home pressure looked promising until the Lionesses were penalised for crossing to leave the scores level at the break.


The intensity of the game was high throughout, resulting in regular instances of players from both teams being injured or winded, which affected the flow of the game.


Stafford looked threatening and twice only fine tackles by inside centre Gemma Booker prevented tries but, in between, another Stafford attack saw them regain their lead at 5-10 on 49 minutes.


Rugby came back bravely and a really good run through the middle brought Sophi Kowalewska-Fry her second try for 10-10 with 25 minutes to play.


It is all credit to both sides that they then fought tooth and nail to gain what would have been the decisive next score but great tackling from both defences and just not enough slickness and accuracy in their offloads prevented either side from snatching the victory and a draw certainly looked a fair result.


Lionesses coach Barry Rees said, “Stafford were a much stiffer test than last week as they presented so much more a physical challenge for our players to stand up to and we did really well to hold our ground.


“We kept our heads up throughout the game and we always looked fully committed which says a great deal for the character of the players we have in this squad

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