BIGGLESWADE Ladies kicked off their season with a strong home win against Ampthill Ladies.
Newly-established Ampthill have built up their girls squads over the past few years and fielded their first ever ladies side in this league opener.
The visitors started well, keeping possession for the first few minutes of the match, although Biggy’s well-organised line-press meant their opponents lost ground rather than gained it.
After four minutes, Biggleswade’s outside centre Lauren Poole, playing her third ever game of rugby, scored what has already become a trademark breakaway try, bombing up the pitch and smashing through several tackles. Captain and fly-half Charlie Field converted, starting off a successful afternoon with the boot. Lauren got on the scoreboard twice more in the next 8 minutes, with two similarly impressive tries (both converted).
The forwards were working hard to gain possession, putting in some huge hits and setting up pods to release the ball to the backs. Lauren’s power on the run meant Ampthill had to double or triple up on her, creating space Biggy’s ever-improving back line could then exploit. Inside centre Anna Kolańczyk finished off a good move with a try, with Charlie again converting, this time from an angle.
Ampthill were playing with heart and fight, and from a lineout peeled off down the 5m channel but Biggy’s forwards had it covered and bundled the No 8 into touch. Shortly afterwards, the same Ampthill player, Gemini Forster, managed to force her way through Biggy’s line on the other side of the pitch for the visitor’s first points.
Biggy had the final score of the first-half when winger Chloe White was let fly and ran in for a speedy try (again converted).
Biggleswade rang the changes in the second half, in line with the RFU’s Half Game guidelines, which encourage clubs to give all players in matchday squads at least half of the available playing time wherever possible. They made seven changes, including most of the forward pack. It was bound to disrupt the flow of the Biggy’s game, and Ampthill took advantage, piling on the pressure for the first 10 minutes or so. Centre Clare Goldsmith made a thumping tackle to prevent Ampthill pushing over as Biggy resolutely defended their line, but the opposing team’s persistance paid off, with Gemini Forster grounding her second try of the match.
The score forced Biggy to regroup and up their focus and intensity, and they regained their grip on the game, with lock Claire Watson making a powerful charge and bulldozing her way over Ampthill’s line.
The home team’s forwards continued to suck in their opposition, starting a move which released quick ball down the line to new Biggy player fullback Amanda Humphrey. She’d already had a chance to stretch her long legs a couple of times with ground-gaining sprints, and on this occasion her efforts were rewarded after a step inside gave her the perfect angle to tear up the pitch and score.
More good link play from the pushers to the runners led to the backs being unleashed again, with Chloe scoring her second try of the day, converted by Charlie.
Next up was a smash and grab raid from Biggy’s powerhouse No 8 Amy Schiller, who broke tackles to create space for herself to run through and score.
Winger Jo Beard made it ten tries after the backs spread the ball wide with quick, safe hands. Charlie’s conversion (her seventh from ten attempts) made the final score 64-12.
Biggleswade were pleased with their performance, putting into practice many of the moves they had worked hard on in training this week following last week’s pre-season friendlies.
Biggleswade gave Ampthill a warm welcome for their first league match, and it was a fantastic afternoon of rugby, played with full commitment from both teams, with great sideline support from both sets of spectators. The good atmosphere continued in a packed clubhouse after the match.
Forward of the match was Claire Watson (sponsored by Bob Archer) for a belting individual performance and for taking charge and decisively bossing the pods.
Back of the match was Lauren Poole, (sponsored by Chris Wright Fencing) for blasting through the opposition to score a hatful of tries for the second week running.
A special mention also goes to Amanda Humphrey for a hugely encouraging performance - and try - in what was her first ever game of rugby.
PHOTOS: Carl Wolfenden