Visitors show great 2nd half Cat-titude
Once again St Mary's were facing the second placed side in the league as they welcomed Chew Valley Cats this weekend. Knowing that the visitors would be buoyed by a fantastic result in the previous round, Mary's had to be at their best from the start, and so it proved to be. Showing excellent continuity and good phase play the home side looked to threaten against the strong Chew defence. 8 minutes in and Jade 'Gambo' Gamlin sliced through the defence to score and convert her own try after some good work by the pack. Mary's then looked to stretch the defence and moved the ball to the width well. When it was worked back the impressive Ellie Clarke finished and Gambo converted, 14-0 after 15 minutes. Chew then came back and after some really strong carries, notably from their outstanding No10, they crossed whilst the home side hit the snooze button and were back in the game at 14-5. Mary's then rallied again (as they have done every time they've conceded this season) and took the game away in the last 20 minutes of the half. Joanna Smith showing some great vision to spot space in behind and after her excellent kick over, scrum half Tammy Howells had too much gas to out-sprint the defence and score. Gambo converted, 21-5. Smith then followed up with two tries of her own. Firstly, following some great work by the team to move the ball, she found herself with a covering defence and threw and lovely dummy to score. And then cutting a great line and accelerating away to score under the sticks. Gambo got one missed one and at half time the score read 33-5.
Second half and Chew could easily have folded, but instead they came back really strongly and took charge of the game. Some really powerful running, being met by a really determined home defence and so it was for the opening exchanges. Mary's were able to keep Chew out and then gained good territory through some strong clearance kicks. And then they scored a great try to finish the match. A good clearance kick and chase and then some excellent individual skill by Gambo to flick the ball back into play between her legs as it looked certain to roll out and keep things alive. Mary's carried and then moved the ball wide where flanker Victoria Shakspeare rounded off an excellent afternoon by sprinting away to score. Conversion good 40-5. Into the last 15 minutes and it was backs against the wall stuff as Chew were absolutely determined to cross the line and Mary's were absolutely determined to stop them. Phase after phase and penalty after penalty all being met head on and the home side were able to keep Chew out as the final whistle blew. Final score 40-5.
Mary's will feel really pleased with their attack in the first half and their defence in the second, whilst Chew deserve huge credit for their attitude and determination throughout. Pats on the back this week to Fern Reed, Boe Meaton and Michaela Excell who were excellent in the pack and to Ellie Clarke, Joanna Smith and Gambo in the backs who all had excellent games.
Special mention to Steph Hyde who continues to improve every week. Player of the match though was Ria Jefferson-Gleed who had her best game for St Mary's, was always a threat with ball in hand and showed some great catch pass skills in the width. Next up for St Mary's is an away trip to Petherton which marks the half way point of the league. All support most welcome.