Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Memory Lane (part 2)

Today we remember another game in that opening season - and one that was just a shade closer than the first match (and no pictures from this one, you'll be delighted to hear!)...


Stevenage Girls 20, Letchworth 21 (HT: 5-7)

Letchworth met Stevenage on Sunday in the first ever local “derby” between the newly two formed girls teams. It proved to be a fiercely contested thriller between two well-matched sides.

This was Letchworth girls’ seventh game in what has been a hectic first three months of rugby. Stevenage, on the other hand, have been taking things more carefully and building towards what was their first ever full fixture.

Which tactic had been most wise was difficult to judge. The home side certainly proved to be a well-drilled team and throughout the game took full advantage of their weight advantage over their more match hardened - but smaller - visitors. Strong tackling by both sides kept the game scoreless for most of the first half until Letchworth's Carla Kelly finally found a gap and stormed towards the line. It took two Stevenage forwards to stop her, but she still managed to get the ball away to Mel Hobbs on wing who went over for her first try of the season. Carla, despite being winded by the tackle, recovered quickly and added the conversion.

Stevenage fought back immediately, using the weight of their forwards to even the try count a few minutes later, though the conversion was missed. This spurred the home team on and the final few minutes saw them camped on the Letchworth line, held up time and again by determined defence with Steph Crome finally clearing to touch as the half time whistle went.

The second half began much as the first had with a battle royal in the centre of the field, and this time it was Stevenage who scored first (though the conversion was missed) to go 10-7 ahead. Letchworth then appeared to have extended their lead when captain Hayley Guilder found a gap and broke away, only to misread the temporary pitch markings and ran the ball dead. She recovered quickly, however, and with Letchworth running the drop out back at Stevenage and completed another one of her barn-storming runs, handing off several defenders, before putting the ball down ... in the right place this time! Naomi Parnell slotted over the kick and Letchworth were back in front 14-10.

Within minutes Naomi herself who broke away a few minutes later so score a splendid individual try on the left, which she then converted, to give Letchworth a clear lead of 11 points with only four minutes left.

But Stevenage were not finished. Another forward drive brought the score to 21-15. Although the conversion was again missed (all be it only narrowly) with a minute left Stevenage were again on the Letchworth line, forcing the ball over the line only for it to be held up on the line by Ruby Sharp. From the resulting scrum and the last play of the game Stevenage’s scrum-half - supported by most of the rest of her team - drove for the line. In the pile of bodies Stevenage claimed a try, while Letchworth insisted the Stevenage player had dropped the ball and they had touched it down. With only the touch judge having a clear view, after a brief consultation, the try was awarded to Stevenage.

The final kick of the game was therefore the decider. Stevenage’s stepped forward to take the kick... but it was not to be. The whistle went and Letchworth had won by the narrowest possible margin.

But Stevenage won’t have long to wait for their “revenge” – the teams meet for “Part Two” on 9th January at Letchworth.

For Letchworth, now at the half-way point of their first season, this was their fourth win. Though they are developing well, and remain unbeaten against other “new” sides – such as Stevenage and Hemel – they remain some way behind the more experienced clubs, such as Welwyn. Nonetheless it has been an encouraging start and several of their players must be strong contenders for places in the East of England regional squad, which will be selected at the end of January.

The team has helped to put the female version of the game firmly on the sporting map of North Herts. Letchworth and Stevenage on Sunday demonstrated that girls’ rugby is a fast and exciting sport that any girl can take up, enjoy, and be successful at even if they have never played any game like it before (or know the rules!). For spectators, it was incredible to realise that three-quarters of the players on the field had never played “full-contact” rugby before the beginning of the season. And with new girls sections being formed across the county this is a fantastic time to be part of something new – any girls aged 10-17 should come down to their local club and give it a “try”.
The return game a few weeks later was a rather more one sided affair!

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