Biggleswade Ladies put up a valiant fight against opposition that was far stronger than they were expecting.
Buckingham Swans, top of the RFUW National Challenge Midlands 1 league, were due to put out a development squad to give newbies game time in this friendly, but Sunday’s team actually included seven county players and they ran out 55-0 victors.
However Biggy kept their heads up despite the unflattering scoreline, improving as the game went on.
They took on a tight, powerful, well-drilled Buckingham pack. The Swans’ dominance in this area gave them faster, cleaner ball, and their size and strength sucked in Biggy players to the tackle. This gave Swans the room to pass quickly and cleanly through the backs, running in several tries.
But Biggy were no pushover. No 8 Amy Schiller was in typical combative form, making that all important big first hit, keeping up the intensity all game, as did flanker Rachel Poulso.
Other first half highlights were full back Vicki Marshall taking down a fast, powerful opposition forward with a textbook passive tackle; centre Claire Huckle storming across the pitch to bundle a Swan player into touch; and wing Ellie Reeve running from deep in her own territory, shrugging off one tackle on the sideline and gaining valuable ground, before taking a big hit and a mouthful of mud.
But Swans’ experience and well-organised tactical play meant they were finding and creating gaps in Biggy’s defence. The disappointing half-time scoreline was an unflattering 38-0.
It could have turned into a cricket score if Biggy had lost heart. Instead, they came out fighting in the second half, pressing forward with some sustained pressure for the first time. Buckingham were limited to 17 points in the second half – a greatly encouraging achievement in what was a testing game for Biggleswade.
Forward of the match went to lock Claire Watson – only very recently stolen from Biggleswade backs to be introduced to the dark arts of the forwards – who had a gutsy game, rucking hard and breaking through Swan’s strong defensive line.
Captain and fly half Charlie Field earned the honour of back of the match with her most accomplished performance at no 10 so far, making numerous vital tackles and kicking Biggleswade out of trouble when under intense pressure.
Thanks go to Technical Authoring Services Ltd (TASL), who sponsored the match and provided a free buffet for supporters.