Bury St Edmunds 15 - Sutton Coldfield Women 12
LADIES MATCH REPORT - BURY ST EDMUNDS
It was play-off heartbreak for the girls this afternoon in Wellingborough as a very good Bury Foxes side scored a fortunate late try to claim the spoils 15-12 in a tight contest that could have gone either way.
It all started so well for Sutton when after just 3 minutes captain Charlie Byrne fed fellow centre Katie Gregory who was able to shrug off the attention of the scrambling defence to score an outstanding individual try, her 13th of a memorable campaign which full back Alison Livermore was able to convert for an early 7-0 lead.
As the game settled down the ‘NC East One’ champions from Suffolk came more into the game with their speedy backline a constant threat and it took a brilliant last ditch tackle from Alison Livermore to deny flying wing Steph Hanratty a breakaway score. However, it was brief respite as after 21 minutes the Bury Foxes left wing Lucy Kerr stepped on the gas to reduce the Sutton lead to 7-5 with a fine finish out wide.
It was testament to both defences that the score remained that way at the break with the Sutton back row in particular of Liz Fletcher, Natalie Kennett, Roisín McBrien and replacement Holly Jackson constantly putting their bodies on the line as the Bury Foxes tried to run through us.
The 2nd half continued to be a tight affair with defences on top before the dangerous Lucy Kerr got free down the left after 58 minutes to score her 2nd try of the afternoon and in doing so put the Foxes in front for the first time 10-7, the conversion being missed.
With the slope against them and an outstanding team in their way the challenge had been laid down to the Sutton girls but with character in abundance they were not found wanting as they launched wave after wave of attack before their reward came with 8 minutes remaining when fly half Maria Crowfoot set her backs free ending with left wing KerrieAnne Melsom going in at the corner for her 9th try of the season much to the delight of the travelling ‘Green Army’ hordes to regain the lead 12-10 with the difficult conversion falling short.
With the finishing line in sight and Sutton in the ascendency the game took a cruel twist after 75 minutes when an attacking Sutton chip over the top was gathered.The Sutton defence charged down the clearing box kick only for it to fall into the grateful Foxes wing Steph Hanratty who then ran the length from her own 10 metre line before touching down for what proved to be the game’s deciding score, although the conversion again drifted wide the Foxes led once more 15-12.
With the closing minutes ticking by Sutton continued to throw everything they had at it but the superb Foxes defence couldn’t be breached and it was the girls from East Anglia who were celebrating at the final whistle.
Great game between two outstanding teams, congratulations to Bury Foxes who we wish well as they take their place in ‘Championship Midlands Two’ next season.
The Sutton Women, in only their second season and first at level 4, should be rightly proud of their performance against more experience opponents who we pushed all the way. Big shout out to the depleted front row of Nafeesah Nabi, ‘forward of the match’ Amy Sheldrake and Vicky Sullivan who never gave an inch, ably supported by locks Molly Mollie Campbell and Charlie George. Scrum half Christine McEvoy was as composed as ever before one courageous tackle too many forced her off with a head injury to be replaced by Sammi Allwood. Katie Gregory was superb all afternoon, carrying the main attacking threat and was rightly named ‘back of the match’ finishing the season as the team’s joint leading try scorer.