Withycombe Ladies performed well against tough opponents when they entertained Bristol-based Thornbury in a fine contest played out at Raleigh Park, writes Adam Curtis.
From the first whistle the visiting side showed no signs of ‘travel fatigue’ and they won their own kick-off before powering up-field to score in the Clubhouse Corner. That saw them into a 5-0 lead after three minutes. Things got tougher for the home side when one of their number was sin-binned for a high tackle. Undeterred but their reduction in numbers, the Withy Ladies scored the games next which came after a wonderful solo run from Georgia Skelly that took her some 60-yardsd before she off-loaded to Laurie Ranft and, when she found Rebecca Ramsden, the latter touched down at the Brook End to level things up at 5-5, 10 minutes into the contest.
Play then settled into a pattern of end-to-end action with both sides enjoying quality possession. It was Thornbury who scored next when, following a period of pressure in the five-metre channel, they fashioned an opening in what was otherwise a tight home defensive line to score a second try.
Withy hit back with pace and clinical finishing as another break from Skelly this time found Devona Thompson who crossed beside the posts to level things up at 10-10.
The equilibrium wasn’t to last when a quickly taken penalty went through the hands of the Thornbury forwards to score. Once again though, Withy responded immediately as Charlotte Leckie crashed over the line on the stroke of half-time and the teams trooped off at the break with honours even.
From the re-start the visitors began to turn the screw, using the width of the pitch and all their players, to great effect. They displayed speed, strength and quick recycling of the ball to score four quick tries over the course of the third quarter and this enable them to open up a 24-point gap between the teams.
However, the Withy Ladies have terrific character within their ranks and they were clearly intent on ‘not going down without a fight’!
With an increase in communication and self belief, Withy Ladies picked up a second wind to finish the contest on the front foot. The first of their two late tries came when, from a quick tap penalty, Bridget Culver set up Laurie Ranft to skip through the Thornbury line to cross the whitewash for her second try and then the determined Georgia Skelley set up Paula Jackson to score what was the games 12th try.
The visitors finished what they had started with the final try, one that came from a line out just outside the Withy 22’ from where the ball was shipped out wide to the opposite corner of the pitch for try number 13 of a terrific contest, leaving Thornbury the 44-27 winners.
There’s little doubt that this was an exciting game of rugby to watch and, despite the score, the Withy ladies can take many a positive from their afternoon efforts.
Withy Ladies now have a four week before they return to action with a league game against Cullompton Development XV at Raleigh Park on December 12.
Below we have a series of pictures from the game taken by EMMA MILES.