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Bishop’s Stortford Ladies 10 – 31 Biggleswade Ladies

Biggleswade Ladies finished their first league season in style with an impressive away 31-10 win against Bishop’s Stortford on Sunday.

The victory meant Biggy finished in second place in the Womens NC South East East 3 league – a huge achievement for the new side.

The match was played with great intensity with both teams putting in some big hits. Biggy’s pressing and tackling was full-on right from the kick-off, earning them the lion’s share of possession and territory, and making it difficult for Stortford to break through.

Chloe White, playing at fullback, was first to put points on the board with a real show of pace to run past her opposite number and scamper over the tryline.

Biggy were organising themselves well, setting up solid scrums, and working through the phases to create overlaps, but a few handling errors meant they weren’t taking every opportunity.

It took a fabulous solo effort from Chloe to get the scoreboard ticking over again, when she caught a massive Stortford clearance in Biggy’s 22 and went on a lightning run up the length of the pitch to cut through Bishops’ defence and run in her second try of the day. A conversion from captain and fly-half Charlie Field made it 12-0.

Stortford began a fightback with a hard-worked forwards’ try after securing the lineout from a Biggy infringement and building momentum with some strong carries before finally breaking the line and scoring.

But Biggy responded well with hooker Carolyn Drake and second row Sophie Earls taking a break from hitting people to demonstrate some hot handling skills (described by the sideline note-taker as ‘mad handling tekkers’) and release the ball to the backline. The move ended up with winger Jo Franklin scorching down the pitch to score. Another conversion made it 19-5 to Biggy at half time.

Squad rotation saw some fresh Biggy legs on in the second half.

Prop Connie McGinlay made impressive yardage on the charge. Biggleswade were  putting in some strong tackles across the pitch to snuff out attacks, although Stortford did score in the corner after a quick tap from a penalty close to Biggy’s try line.

For the second time, Biggy’s response to the home side getting points back was to step up the intensity. Biggleswade stripped the ball from Bishops, replacement No 9 Holly Crawford made a great break, starting a move that fed the ball right across the back line, but a forward pass right in at the corner saw the move break down. Biggleswade rued what looked like another certain score when winger Penny George was tackled before she grounded the ball, but a try finally came from a similar break almost immediately afterwards. Nikki Plater rammed the ball onto the ground with extra venom to make up for the two Biggy missed chances in quick succession. A conversion made it 24-10.

There was one more try in the game, which came from Stortford’s restart. Charlie cleared the ball with a perfectly placed up-and-over, and replacement winger Kayleigh Jean – suffering from a hen weekend hangover from hell – showed incredible speed and some top footballing skills to race onto it, kick the ball on twice, and grubber it towards the oncoming try line, only to be tackled off the ball just yards out. The ref had called advantage, and centre Anna Kolanscyk bombing up the pitch in support, overtook the heap of green-faced alcohol-smelling woe otherwise known as Kayleigh, and grounded the ball on her behalf. A third successful conversion from Charlie made the final score 31-10 to Biggleswade.

Forward of the match was Steph Cooper, who came on in the second half and got stuck in straight away with some crunching tackles. 

Back of the match was Jo Franklin (sponsored by C & R Building Solutions) for a great try and also for some vital tackles against much bigger opposition* (*everyone is bigger than Jo).

The entire squad deserves a huge pat on the back not only for Sunday’s excellent performance but for showing heart and commitment throughout the whole season both at training and in matches.

Best wishes got to the Bishop’s Stortford player who suffered a very nasty injury, fracturing and disclocating her fibula and tibia. Biggleswade hope her recovery goes well.

Final score: Bishop’s Stortford Ladies 10 – 31 Biggleswade Ladies

Special mentions go to: 

Sarah Ashby – poached by the backs to play scrum half instead of her usual flanker role – and who showed great passing skills, but kept forgetting she wasn’t a forward.

Nikki Plater – for connecting with air instead of the ball for a clearance kick that would have been enormous, I tell you, enormous.

All photo credits; Carl Wolfenden

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