By Amy Orrow
First win of the season and as a bonus... an away win!
After a promising start to the season with a well fought match last weekend at home to Crewe, the Wasps were on the hunt for their first win to take back to Mint Bridge!
The squad had a different look to it this week after some players were unavailable. This doesn’t seem to phase the ladies as everybody is adopting the “new style” of play that both James Mackereth and Arthur Perie have introduced over the pre season period and into the start of this new season. There was high energy and enthusiasm for what was to come on this sunny day in Chester!
Unfortunately, the Wasps arrived late to Chester due to unforeseen traffic circumstances but instead of panicking, the team got through a shortened version of their warm up and got into game mode despite the lack of preparation time.
The Wasps received the first kick off from Chester and immediately took the game to the Devas with strong running and supporting each other well both in attack and defence. The Wasps put the Devas on the back foot with Lauren Harkness kicking for territory, forcing the Devas to back track and not really having a game plan to counter those kicks.
An early try came for the Wasps with good clean ball in the breakdown area that debutant scrum half Fleur Stanton delivered out to the backs superbly from right to left. A couple of phases later, a tip on out of the tackle from Hayley Hodgson and a good supporting line and dive for the line from debutant Susie Winter on the left wing meant the Wasps grabbed an early lead. The conversion was missed. 0v5.
This gave the Wasps a new kind of energy and the ball was passed from player to player, all taking responsibility and running dummy lines, keeping the ball moving and clearing out the rucks in order for Fleur Stanton to get the ball out quickly and effortlessly to the oncoming players who were all seemingly hungry for the ball.
When the Devas got their hands on the ball they didn’t seem to have the drive to run with confidence and moved sideways numerous times allowing the likes of Lauren Harkness, Hayley Hodgson and Tamar Benson to make big hits as they pressed up in the midfield, squeezing out any space the Devas initially had.
An early injury to Tamar Benson saw recently transitioned Sarah Wilkinson move temporarily back into the centres and Kelis Evans was brought on from the bench to plug the gap in the back row.
The Devas pack was more effective in the scrum than the Wasps and therefore on their ball they were able to keep possession but that was short lived as the Wasps put huge amounts of pressure on the back line which failed to show promise unless the fly half had time to kick or the full back had space to run. They were the two key players the Wasps had to shut down in order to take full control of this game.
The second Wasps try came from inside Centre Hayley Hodgson, who was trying out this new position and clearly enjoying herself in defence but mostly in attack as when she got her hands on the ball she always looked like scoring. Coming onto the ball at pace and backing herself to run at the outside shoulder of her opposite number, breaking the gain line, Hayley Hodgson only had the full back to beat from 10m out. We all know how that one ends... TRY! Tamar Benson was back on the pitch to attempt the conversion, but with a knee injury preventing her from her best, the conversion was missed. 0v10.
Two early tries and bags of positive play pushed the Wasps on to get more in the bag. Amy Orrow carried well from the back of a scrum just inside the opposition half. She fended off two players and committed a third whilst trying to put fullback Rowan Boardley in space on the right wing but unfortunately the offload didn’t come off and the ball went into touch. The right ideas were all there, it was just about executing them when the opportunities came. The team pushed on despite some handling errors!
The third try came from a break when Amy Orrow carried the ball and ran hard but almost ran out of options when Sarah Wilkinson put in a big shout and took the offload from 10m out and ran the ball in under the posts. Great inter play from the back row players, (both of which are former back line centres who know a thing or two about running supporting lines off each other). This all started from great work on the ground by Eve Joseph and Natasha Kitchen clearing out and making the ball available quickly and efficiently. Hayley Hodgson kicked the conversion taking the Wasps to 0v17 at half time.
Half time team talk was positive and encouraging but the job was not done just yet as the Devas were starting to look dangerous with the boot of the fly half and the pace of the full back.
The Wasps kicked off the second half and immediately applied pressure to keep the momentum going from the first half. However, the Devas had other plans and also came at the Wasps in another gear. They were a different looking team and meant business. Handling errors from the Wasps meant the Devas could use their strengths in the scrum to set the scene for their attacking lines. The Wasps were struggling to keep the ball in the scrum as one such ball popped out and the Devas number 6 was the quickest to retrieve the ball and dotted it down under the posts for their first try of the game. Frustrating for the Wasps but it’s definitely something to work on at training as set piece plays can sometimes be the Wasps downfall at times. the conversion was missed. 5v17.
The Wasps didn’t panic, as the new style they’ve adapted to playing gives them confidence to let the opportunities arise and then take full advantage of them when the time comes. Again, clever kicking from Lauren Harkness pinned the Devas in their 22 and the Wasps camped out for a little while unTil releasing Hayley Hodgson to run in a 30m try, breaking through more than one tackle to score her second try and the Wasps 4th of the match. Conversion just short from Tamar Benson. 5v22.
With only around 15 minutes left to play, the Wasps we’re feeling tired as they had done a lot of hard graft to secure ball and make good ground in the carries. The Devas found themselves with a bit of possession leading into the last 10 minutes of the game and were rewarded with a second try late on in the game. They had to fight for this one as the defensive line that was perfected last season featured heavily for numerous phases stopping the Devas attack around the breakdown, forcing them to muscle their way over the whitewash in the far right hand corner of the pitch. Conversion missed 10v22.
With only a couple of minutes to go, the Wasps just needed to hang on and push through the fatigue to gain their first win of the season so far. Encouraging words from the touchline spurred the ladies to work hard to secure the ball right up to the last play when all they had to do was kick the ball into touch to end the game and be rewarded with a thoroughly well deserved win!
There is still lots to work on but there were areas today that were full of promise and potential for a brilliant season ahead.
The next game is Saturday 29th September at Home to the Vagabonds where the Wasps will look to continue their winning ways and produce some more innovative and enjoyable Rugby!