Braving the Elements
Wednesday 7th November saw the return of the Conference Cup for UYWRUFC's 2nd XV. Drawn against Sheffield Hallam, a team a league above our 2nd XV in Northern 2A and who came second to our 1st XV last season, this would prove to be an incredibly tough match for our girls in gold.
And to add an extra level of challenge, the heavens opened during the first half and the rest of the match was played in near torrential rain - with the girls soaked to the bone and the ball and pitch slippery beyond belief, it was a match that took all their determination and courage to see through to the end.
Although Beth made a fantastic catch off the first kick off, a few phases later saw Sheffield Hallam turn over the ball and quickly score the first try of the match (unconverted), followed a couple of minutes later by their second. Despite this quick and strong start by the away team, York were not to be cowed; when Hallam attempted their next break number 8 Ella was there to make the tackle, and in the following phases good defensive work by Izzy and Suzanne helped York take possession. Although Hallam soon scored their third try of the match (converted), they found the York defence difficult to break through with the gap between tries ever growing. Their fourth only came after a period of play in which their momentum was halted time and time again, with thanks to some incredible tackles by York.
By this point the rain had started to come down, growing heavier by the minute. York had stepped up another gear, winning scrums and competing at the breakdown to keep the pressure on Hallam. With Meg regaining possession of the ball, our girls made multiple breaks through the Hallam line. Our opponents began to make mistakes, causing a few knock ons which benefited York. Although Hallam eventually found their way through to the try line twice more, it wasn't without a spirited defense and some fantastic tackles by York, including ones by our no. 5 and no. 15. Score 0-36 at the break.
The second half saw no change in the weather, with all girls on the pitch feeling the battering effects of the rain and wind (as did our match notebook). And the narrative of the match was largely unchanged, with York’s determination and fight ever growing – Hallam were forced to work harder and harder for their tries, with their first after the break only coming a good ten to fifteen minutes into the match. York’s scrum work was massively improved, contesting well and keeping possession of the ball. And York’s defense was strong, with winger Morgan making a tackle to be proud of on her opposite number.
Although Hallam soon scored a few tries in quick succession, including one off an exit kick gone wrong, York did pin Hallam on their 22 for a while. In one of the few respites from the horrid weather, vice-captain Daisy made several breaks through the Hallam line to draw York closer to the posts. Other UYWRUFC girls played their part as well, as Beth and Morgan worked together to attempt to break through Hallam’s wing after a scrum. Despite Hallam using their experience to great effect over York, capitalising on mistakes to increase their lead, the second half drew to a close with a performance that York can be proud of. Final score 0-67.
Even though UYWRUFC’s 2nd XV came away with a loss and an exit from the BUCS Conference Cup, there is one thing that we can be certain of. They brought the fight to a considerably more experience opponent in a higher league, and York’s increase in intensity definitely shook Hallam who made numerous errors throughout the match. There is a lot to take away from this match, but one thing is for sure – this team has potential, and we can’t wait to see it fully realised.