In the first round of the 2019 Inter Services Championship, , without fully hitting the high notes that they are capable of the RAF Senior Women showed enough glimpses of the talent they possess to remind everyone that they will pose a serious challenge to the Army Women’s unbroken winning run in the Women’s Inter Services.
They had killed the game as a contest within the first fifteen minutes with four well taken tries. They will be annoyed with themselves that they allowed the Royal Navy so much possession in the last fifteen minutes of the half but will be pleased with the accuracy of their counter attack in the final quarter when they again had the scoreboard ticking over quickly. A 67 – 3 final score tells its own story. Though the Navy never stopped competing they did not have the armoury to trouble the Air Forces’ goal line nor the ability to stem the tide of Light Blue attacks.
The opening fifteen minutes barely saw the Royal Navy touch the ball. Aggressive running and quick possession ensured Air Force continuity as the Navy’s defence was pulled this way and that. First Charlie Murray, closely followed by Kate Edwards, crossed the line before there was a brief pause. It wasn’t to last long though as another pair of tries came in quick succession through Sophie Hill and Alex Barnes. Sophie Gale kicked two out of four conversions and already the Royal Navy were looking at a salvage operation. Royal Air Force’s lead was a match winning 24 – 0.
Whether the RAF relaxed slightly or the Navy finally adjusted to the speed of the game is a moot point. However after the initial onslaught the Navy finally began to enjoy possession. Ollie Critchley came to the fore at half back with the ever dependable Charlie Fredrickson always available to make some hard yards. From the back, skipper Rose Dixon finally managed to get the ball in her hands to show some of her balanced running skills. However despite creating a couple of half chances the Navy were never properly able to get behind the Air Force defence and had to settle for a Sam Alderson penalty as their only points in the half.
The Royal Air Force went in to the changing rooms a little frustrated that after such a quick fire start they had been unable to add to their score in the last twenty five minutes of the half. However they started the second half with a renewed purpose and it wasn’t long before England hooker, Amy Cokayne, powered over for the Air Force’s fifth try. The conversion was missed but the lead had stretched to 29 – 3.
For a short while the game became a little loose and dis-jointed, not helped by a couple of breaks in play due to injuries. However when the game did finally burst back into life it was the Royal Air Force who were stoking the flames. First Charlie Murray, then Kate Edwards and finally Amy Cokayne all crossed for tries in quick succession and with all three conversions landed the 50 points was reached and the lead extended to 50-3.
Again the Navy kept trying to play their patterns and worked their way up in to good field position from which to try an exert pressure. However turnover possession and a break from deep saw Charlie Murray cross for her third try and the Air Force’s ninth.
Understandably the Navy’s defence was by now tiring and though tackles were not being missed the Navy were allowing more half breaks to occur. Next to cross was the replacement Emma Tadman before Charlie Murray, wrapped up the scoring for the day with her fourth and the Air Force’s eleventh of the game. With only one conversion made it meant that the final score was Royal Air Force Senior Women 67 Royal Navy Women 3.
As Chrissy Siczowa stepped forward to once again receive the Molly Rose Trophy she will no doubt have been thinking about a number of missed opportunities. Though not costly against the Navy they probably brought back unwelcome memories of the match last year at RAF Halton when ultimately the lack of points scored in the first half by the Air Force cost them a historic victory. Chrissy and her side will not want to make the same mistake this year as they travel to Gloucester and the much anticipated match up against the Army Women. The Army Women have never lost an Inter Service match but if the Royal Air Force Senior Women can eradicate some of their unforced errors then they will have high hopes for the match as they continue their quest to wrestle the Inter Service crown from the Army’s previously vice like grip.
Images: Navy RAF Match