15th February 2013 Henley

Albion Ladies back in contention for title push

Albion Ladies secured a crucial victory against Henley at the weekend to put them back in contention for top spot in the league.  The 17-7 win puts them into 3rd place in the league but with a game in hand over league leaders London Welsh.

Albion and Henley have met 4 times since Henley dropped down into Championship South West 2, 2 seasons ago, and although Albion have been victorious in 3 out of 4 of the meetings, the match is always tightly fought with close score lines. Albion’s loss to Henley before Christmas was the inspiration that Albion needed to win through yesterday in extremely muddy conditions.

The match wasn’t all plain sailing however and apart from the majority of possession and a sweetly kicked penalty from No 10 Caitlin Short to secure Albion 3 points, Albion found themselves a try and conversion down after 30 minutes as the strong Henley forwards went over the line. Albion’s discipline up front fell away as the conditions got to them and they conceded numerous penalties. Despite strong running, Henley failed to capitalise further, blocked every time by strong tackling from Albion centres Bethan Ayling and Anna Clooke. Henley’s tactics to stretch the Albion defence with long overhead kicks was thwarted every time by Albion’s 15 Alex Smith who made countless runs to move the ball to clear ground.

Albion knew they had to turn the game around in the second half to stay in contention for the league title this season. They showed real team work and heart to pull together in the last 20 and for the first real time in the game, started to play their own game and control the play, putting together set moves and pressuring the Henley defence. 20 minutes from time, a gap appeared in the Henley defence which No 8 Alison Cooper exploited, running in a try from beyond the 22 from a well-timed pass by scrum half Kayleigh Moore. Less than 10 minutes later, winger Sonia Clatworthy put the nail in the coffin, beating the opposition in a foot race from a kick to put the ball down beneath the posts. Short converted both tries to take the final score to 17-7 full time.

Albion now have a week off to recover before they meet second placed Bristol II away on Feb 24th.