The Gladies faced quite a challenge when heading out into darkest Wiltshire to play formidable opponents Devizes in their final match of January. Forced to borrow four inexperienced players from the opposition to get their numbers up to fifteen and with icy conditions, it was always going to be a tough match.
The game kicked off to an excellent start however, with a strong scrum and quick hands from the backs shipping the ball out to fullback Anita Oliver to score a try, duly converted by fly half Sophie Campbell.
Devizes boasted a mighty pack, with considerably larger forwards than Hackney’s own, meaning that the visitors had to fight hard in the scrums and at the rucks. Nevertheless, props Emma Middleton and Ellie Bowden put in impressive performances along with second row Sorrel Wood to keep the scrum together. Good work from the forwards left scrum half Charley Miller able to get the ball out to the back line, with Hackney bagging another try thanks to some sidestepping and considerable pace from Amy Longo, on temporary loan from Devizes. A scrappy period of play led to a Devizes’ try just before half time, with the score at 14-5.
It wasn’t a good start for Hackney in the second half, with Longo – now back on Devizes’ side – running in a try in the first few minutes of the game. She managed to get two more tries past the Hackney defence, running almost half the length of the pitch. Things got worse for the Gladies when two of the novice players lent to them by Devizes left the field, leaving them in difficulty.
Fortunately flankers Alex Bowtell and Felicity Auer stepped up, working with Miller to push blindside, setting up Sophie Campbell for a third try between the posts with some considerable pace. A fourth try came with some inspired offloading from Rachel Middleton, as she was tackled by two forward simultaneously, with a quick pass from Barr out to fullback Oliver to dive over the line. Devizes’ poor kicking rate, with only one successful conversion from four, ensured that Hackney won a narrow but impressive victory, with the final score 26-22.
The player of the match accolade went to fly half Sophie Campbell, whose confident leadership, impressive pace and big tackles were crucial in the victory. This leaves the Gladies in an enviable position, having won all three of their games played this season.
Hackney Gladies 26– Devizes 22
Tries: Anita Oliver x 2, Sophie Campbell, Amy Longo.
Con: Sophie Campbell x2