The girls U18s squad had their three planned fixtures in the last two months all cancelled due to circumstances outside their control and so everyone was highly motivated to welcome Uckfield Vixens to the Athletic Ground last Sunday.
As a friendly, the squad were using the opportunity to try out alternative positions for some players and to put into practice some elements of play previously reserved only for training. Notably, this included Jemima stepping up from the backs to test herself and expand her skills by playing flanker.
Pre-game the girls agreed to a plan based around possession and using the ball and space to play attacking rugby and to play with the self-confidence of this being a no consequence friendly. With a strong cold wind on the day this included the intention to keep the ball in hand whenever possible and avoid undue kicking. Starting the game strongly with a powerful carry back at the opposition straight from the kick off it was pleasing that the whole team carried out this approach from the very beginning.
With both teams competing strongly at the breakdown but also committing players it was inevitable that space would come available out wider and it was especially pleasing that the senior on pitch leaders consistently made good choices about when to go wide which resulted in multiple tries for Emily W, Frankie, Gabby and Freya during the course of the match.
In defence the girls were robust and quick to identify and close down the opposition threats which mostly came in the narrow channels and often with power. All our forwards put in strong shifts in tackling in dealing with this. Equally, up against a powerfully built opposition front row our scrum was sound and caused Uckfield repeated problems on their own ball whilst being rock solid on ours.
As the game progressed, our girls’ confidence to play adventurous rugby lead to some good continuity in attack and a series of offloads that caused one of the spectators to mutter about Fijians.
With multiple tries scored, Morven’s place kicking was regularly called upon and she ended the day with a 75% success rate which in a difficult wind is excellent and with one of her few misses coming off the upright.
On a day where our strike runners were breaking the gainline regularly our speed of support was sometimes not good enough and this continues to be an area where the team can improve. Otherwise, fitness levels were good and especially given that through injuries we ended the game with 13 players on the pitch but still managed to keep Uckfield scoreless in the second half.
A speedy recovery is hoped for Amy (concussion) and Olivia (foot) both consistently strong and valuable team members.
Final Score – London Scottish 78 – 7 Uckfield Vixens
Team: Issy, Emily W, Ebba, Sophie, Amy, Jemima, Frankie, Becca, Olivia, Morven, Juliette, Gabby, Freya & Rebecca.