Durham Women prepare for tougest test yet as they welcome Lancashire
Durham County Women welcome Lancashire this Sunday at Darlington Rugby Club for the final round of the pool games in the County Championship.
Clarissa Murphy writes;
This Sunday will see a record number of women step out in the Durham County jersey as the side are set to field a development squad before the main squad game.
At the beginning of trials and training for Durham County a record number of over 50 women showed interest in playing for the side.
Due to the numbers persisting week in and week out and selection continuing to be a nail biting experience, it comes as a great reward that each dedicated player will get their chance at playing in the jersey this Sunday.
Dave Addison, Durham County Women’s Head Coach, said: “The competition for places has been really fierce and that’s very much down to the developing players really stepping up and putting pressure on the main squad.”
The development squad is made up of players from Hartlepool Rovers, a very new women’s rugby team on the scene, Sunderland University, Sunderland Flames, Acklam, Bishop Auckland and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks.
Matty Lidster, Head Coach for the County Women Development squad, said: “Personally to me, it does not matter what the score is as long as we get a team out and play to the best of our ability.
“Every game is experience and that is what the development side is all about, gaining that game experience and enjoying playing.”
First team Head Coach, Addison added that he is very excited to see the development squad get out and have a game after all their hard work.
Last week, Durham played hosts to Cumbria in a victorious 34-5 match at Blaydon RFC.
Following a slow start for the hosts they came out with six tries and a team performance to be proud of.
Addison added: “I think last week we started poorly by our standards and in the first half we left a lot of points on the field, in the second half we were much better and back to ourselves.
“This week we need to step out with belief that we can produce a positive result and back ourselves 110%.”
In the last year’s meeting with Lancashire, Durham were the half time leaders and in the final ten minutes Lancashire managed to grasp a hold of the score board and steal the win from under their nose.
Training this week has given the Durham Women a chance to assess areas they need to work on and focus on how they can steer the game in their favour Sunday.
“We have worked on lots of new things in our defensive work and also our game management strategy and the players have adapted really well.” Addison said.
Lancashire are currently unbeaten having beaten Cumbria 112 – 0 in their first fixture and Northumberland 51-10 last Saturday.
Although, having secured a losing bonus point and a winning bonus point in the two Durham games, the hosts are sitting second in the Gill Burns Division One, pool one group.
This means that Sunday’s game will determine the winner of the pool as Lancashire sit a catchable four points ahead at the top of the current leader board.
Commenting on Lancashire, Addison of Sunderland Flames said: “This is the toughest test yet,- Lancashire have been on fire, easily beating Cumbria and Northumberland and will be hungry to win the competition after narrowly missing out last year.
“However, because we have picked up the bonus points we now have something to play for and we would never doubt our girls.
“It will take a momentous effort but at least we have the opportunity to go through which others do not have.
“It is a huge incentive for us and it would send out a message to the women’s rugby community about Durham’s intentions.”
The development squad game will kick start the day as they take on Lancashire development for a 1pm kick off, the first team will step out for a 2.30pm KO.
Lidster of Hartlepool Rovers added: “Being able to put out a development squad as well as a first team is a massive step forward in women’s rugby.
“It shows how much women’s rugby has grown in the past few years and it is very exciting!”
The team set to face Lancashire are:
1.Katie Dodgson (Darlington RFC), 2. Emily Hunter (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 3. Jess Cheesman (Darlington RFC), 4. Sarah Hall (Darlington RFC), 5. Amanda Hilton (Sunderland Flames), 6. Nicole Irving (Sunderland Flames), 7. Sally Downie (Bishop Auckland), 8. Ali Bell (Darlington RFC), 9. Steph Maddison (C- Sunderland Flames), 10. Lyndsey Burns (Darlington RFC), 11. Chloe Allison (Bishop Auckland), 12. Tara Breslin (Sunderland Flames), 13. Clarissa Murphy (Sunderland Flames), 14. Tara Slater (Sunderland Flames), 15. Ursula Hardy (Darlington RFC).
Replacements: Leah Davies (Sunderland Flames), Suzanne Falconer (Sunderland Flames) Alex Webster (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Amber Stonehouse (Sunderland Flames), Beth Blacklock (Durham University), Kate Byrnes (Billingham RFC) Kirsty Paterson (Sunderland Flames)
Travelling reserves: Rachael Turnbull, Caitie Smith, Emma Quinn, Catherine McCabe, Charmaine Lamb.
1.Charmaine Lamb (Hartlepool Rovers), 2. Danni Coulton (C – Hartlepool Rovers), 3. Emma Quinn (Bishop Auckland), 4. Rachael Turnbull (Darlington RFC), 5. Natasha Kennedy (Hartlepool Rovers), 6. Abby Richardson (Hartlepool Rovers), 7. Molly Stonebank (Bishop Auckland), 8. Caitie Smith (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9. Rachel Frost (VC- Sunderland Flames), 10. Sam Lill (Acklam), 11. Sophie Nash (Sunderland Flames), 12. Zoe Short (Acklam), 13. Jayne Guillaume (Acklam), 14. Catherine Mccabe (Sunderland Flames) Kate McDermot (Sunderland Flames)
Replacements: Kiera Yorston (Sunderland Univeristy), Bethany Randerson, Kelly Thomas (Bishop Auckland), Natalie Wintersgill (Hartlepool Rovers), Claire Napier (Sunderland Flames) Becca Willett (Bishop Auckland), Kirsty Mann (Acklam), Lauren Somerville (Acklam), Lynsey Lormier (Acklam) and Claire Braham (Hartleepol Rovers).