Durham Women end County Campaign with record numbers wearing the shirt
Durham County Women denied next stage of County Campaign after 40 – 5 loss to Lancashire at Darlington Rugby Club.
Clarissa Murphy Writes;
Aside from the first team score, Durham set two ‘first time ever records’ as they fielded a second team and awarded seven players their County Caps.
Pictured: Tara Breslin, Jess Cheesman, Katie Dodgson, Lydnsy Burns, Ali Bell, Steph Maddison and Ursula Hardy with caps
The hosts knew heading into the clash it was going to be the toughest fight yet with Lancashire a confident side with two strong wins on the leader board.
Kicking off the game, Lancashire went straight into their game plan shipping the ball wide at speed trailing the Durham defence across the pitch.
It was only moments into kick off that the Lancashire back line found their opening an used their speed out wide to travel from the half way line under the posts.
Lancashire continued to put same style tries on the board as the hosts defence struggled to match their numbers out wide.
After putting 15 points on the board to nil, Durham began to apply the pressure needed to slow the Lancashire Ladies back line.
In the pack it was evident the hosts were dominant as they forced scrums back, turned ball over and drove forward several yards in mauls.
Despite challenging the visitors as the clock ticked, the well drilled side continued to find their way past the Durham Women and over the line.
Seeing in a further four unconverted tries, the visitors had made a good 35-0 head start by half time whistle was blown.
Receiving the first kick of the game, Durham were in clear position for a run at the Lancashire side, taking it wide they crashed the ball in with a quick response to defend the ball.
Durham began working their set piece play dragging in the visitors defence.
Throughout the second half the hosting women demonstrated their fight and passion as they began to fiercely respond to the half time score.
At the break downs both sides had their fair share of quick snaps as for a period of time the ball began to change hands in a yo yo process.
Only having conceded one try throughout the second half it was clear the hosts were used to the Lancashire play and resilient to a repeat performance from the first half.
Continuing to play a forward dominated game, the pack forced the visitors onto the back foot as they crashed the line.
Following a line out in the Lancashire 22, Durham set up a maul and finally rewarded themselves a deserved five points on the board as they drove over the line together.
Despite an opposing favoured score line the atmosphere among the home team demonstrated they were proud and happy to have turned things around in the second half.
After the hosts first try they continued to put their bodies on the line to defend their 5 – 5 second half performance closing the game 40-5.
Pictured: first team after Lancashire game
Before the first team game, Durham County Women saw a second team step out and play a development game for the first time ever.
The game was an opportunity to give the numerous dedicated players a chance to display their talent and wear the County shirt.
Within the team were players from clubs such as Hartlepool Rovers of which the Women have only been playing a matter of months.
Matty Lidster, Durham County Development team Head Coach said: “It is great to see so many women getting involved in playing at representative level.
“It is a real exciting time for Women’s Rugby and Women’s Rugby in the North East.”
Pictured: Durham Development team
Durham Women closed their campaign with seven of the players being awarded their Durham County Cap for the first time ever by Secretary and Vice President John Denham.
Players were from: Jess Cheesman (Darlington RFC), Ali Bell (Darlington RFC), Lydnsy Burns (Darlington RFC), Ursula Hardy (Darlington RFC), Katie Dodgson (Darlington RFC), Steph Maddison (Sunderland Flames) Tara Breslin (Sunderland Flames)
See two team sheets here