Venue: The Recreation Ground, Redruth.
Weather: warm, intermittent cloud and sunshine.
Cornish Rebels 18 Golden Ferns 18
The Betfred Women’s Super League South continues to garner more admirers and fans and no wonder after this thunderous confrontation in Cornwall. The crowd was on tenterhooks from the outset as locals and holidaymakers alike were treated to a heady concoction of brutal defence, athleticism and deft skills.
After early Rebels’ pressure the visitors established a foothold in the home side’s real estate and at the 11th minute Golden Ferns’ number thirteen Annie Allen cut through to open the scoring. This was after good approach work by Katy Hancock and dummy half running from Sarah Humphries.
It was 15 minutes later when the Cornish levelled matters at 4 – 4 via a Faith Rowe touchdown courtesy of some fine handling. The cut and thrust nature of the clash continued until Humphries again came to the fore. A delicate chip kick led to a repeat set and a first rate off load by her saw promising young Eli Mei cross to restore the lead for the Bristol based club.Vicky Mansell tacked on the extras.
Strong defence with Claire Knighton in the vanguard thwarted the Rebels but the pressure finally bore fruit and the impressive Jess Bryan was next on the scoresheet. The goal was missed and the remaining 15 minutes of the first stanza yielded no points but plenty of absorbing entertainment. At the break the Golden Ferns had secured a hard fought 8 – 10 advantage.
The resumption saw Cerys Brown return the kick off with a swathing 40 metres surge. The pattern was set and 5 minutes later the Ferns’ talismanic captain Annie Allen scored her second 4 pointer after a jump from dummy half. Hancock again being instrumental. The away side now led 8 – 14. The fans scarcely had time to regain their seats when Mariella Blanchard struck back for the Rebels to bring the score to 12 – 14.
Notwithstanding the rising passions both on the pitch and in the stands it was the calm control of Humphries that was to again extend the lead of the Golden Ferns. Her exquisite pass to Laura Panting saw the latter go over in the corner. At 12 – 18 the Cornish side – roared on by a vociferous local following – threw everything at the opposition try line. Attack after attack was repelled with last ditch tackling to the fore exemplified by a superb effort from Stephanie Coles. However the outstanding Blanchard found a chink in the defensive line to cross for her second try. Emma Stefanotti held her nerve to level at 18 apiece.
The latter stages were marred by a serious injury to impressive Golden Ferns’ Cerys Green shortly after she had made a try saving tackle. A long hold up for medical treatment finally saw play resume and the dying embers of a pulsating clash provided the Golden Ferns with one last chance to claim the 2 league points. Superb lead up work looked certain to be ‘iced’ but a crucial handling error saw the opportunity spurned.
The final whistle blew with the scores locked at parity.
An outcome which on reflection most observers would conclude was a fair one and indicative of the quite magnificent efforts of both sets of players.
Emma Stefanotti; Chelsea Jobling, Faith Rowe, Tegan Bond, Jenny Defriez; Mariella Blanchard, Louise Dennis; Joanne Buscombe, Zoe Aubert, Bethany Hampton; Katie Bosustow, Jenny Saberton; Jessica Bryan.
Bench: Zeta Penrose, Jossie Ninnis, Bobbie Jackson, Joanna Coppen-Gardner, Rebecca Silgram, Bethany Churchill, Donna Darby.
Stephanie Coles; Mara Noble, Katy Hancock, Cerys Green, Claire Knighton; Sarah Humphries(vc), Vicky Mansell; Cerys Brown, Eli Mei, Lisa Newman; Laura Panting, Faye Harley; Annie Allen(c).
Scoring sequence: 0 – 4, 4 – 4, 4 – 10, 8 – 10 (Half Time) 8 – 14, 12 – 14, 12 – 18, 18 – 18.
Cornish Rebels 3 Golden Ferns 5
Simon Martin – All Golds’ Head of Rugby Development:
“The whole club is immensely proud of the Golden Ferns. It was a brave performance with the team showing courage, determination and a never say die attitude. The commitment from all the players who travelled to Cornwall was first class and we can build on that belief for the remainder of the season and into next year.”
Rob Butland – Cornish Rebels’ Development Director:
“We were heartened by the efforts of both squads – both brimming with determination in what was an epic battle.
The game was a fantastic marker in the sand for where this competition is currently at and if trophies were handed out on efforts alone then both would be champions. We look forward to working together with the other WSLS teams to build this competition to a great spectacle for Southern RL in the coming campaigns.”
The influential Golden Fern, Sarah Humphries
Courtesy of Izzy Ninnis Photography