Lichfield Ladies RFC 27 Team Northumbria 5

Lichfield went into their game with mixed emotions as they mourned the passing of club stalwart Jimmy Greenhorn and welcomed their new sponsors Tempest Ford for the first time.

The day also saw a celebration of rugby to help promote the World Cup in 2010, with action from the under 15’s, u18’s and senior teams.

Hard fought wins for the u15’s against Paviors and the scalp of Jimmy’s Angels for the u18’s got the day off to the perfect start and set the scene for a hugely physical battle for the senior side against fellow Premiership opposition Team Northumbria

After a week of upheaval with injuries and various incarnations of flu, it was a slightly off colour squad for the that ran out for the hosts and with both teams boasting several internationals, the scene was set for a gritty, determined game.

Lichfield’s Sarah Hunter rises in a line-out

Lichfield’s Sarah Hunter rises in a line-out

Starting aggressively, Lichfield established themselves in the opposition’s 22 for much of the first half.

After several promising attacks, pressure finally paid off with a nicely taken try by Vicky McCormack whose speed onto a well weighted pass from winger Sophie Nicholas saw her round the aggressive Team Northumbria defence. England’s Emily Scarratt kicked a successful conversion.

The visitors then showed their mettle and after several phases of aggressive attack, produced a well worked overlap and try for their strong running number eight, though the conversion into the wind fell short.

Lichfield, mindful of their opposition’s potency, then re-established themselves in the opposition half and the pressure they exerted resulted in successive yellow cards for the opposition prop then hooker.

A huge effort in defence for Team Northumbria meant that Lichfield only capitalised on this advantage of numbers with a solitary Scarratt penalty – the score at the interval remained at 10-5 to the home team.

The second half was again remarkable for the strong running of the Team Northumbria pack, and the physical battle for the ball by the home team. Well weighted kicks from Lichfield’s fly half Dani Knight and inside centre Kate Knight saw the hosts dominate territory and thwart the relentless attacks by Team Northumbria.

Lichfield capitalised on this with a somewhat dubious try for Lois Moulding, though her second a few minutes later was less debatable and a brace for the stand in scrum half reflected the ‘can do’ attitude of her teammates.

It took until well into the second half for the Lichfield pack to get on top of their opposition and produce a stream of quick ball onto which strong running back-rowers Claire Antcliffe, Harriet Mills and captain Sarah Hunter forced thunderous tackles from the opposition.

Team Northumbria, even after the concession of these points, fought to the 80th minute and were forced at the end of the match to concede a try for Lichfield’s super sub Becky Williams.

A bonus point 27-5 win against such relentless opposition bodes well for the rest of the season.

After the game, both Premiership teams containing international players hosted a Q&A session with the junior sides that allowed an insight into the lives of the top players in the country as well as guidance on how the youngsters can start their own journey to represent their country.