Christopher Wilson at SGS WISE Campus, Bristol

The Bristol Golden Ferns continued their forward progress in an entertaining match played in cool conditions at the SGS.

Building on last week’s 64-18 defeat at Bedford Tigers, the Ferns crossed for five tries and gave the unbeaten league leaders plenty to think about.

With a full bench to play with, Coach Simon Martin was able to ring the changes to bring something new to the party and, though the Broncos had the firepower – especially in Welsh international Emily Hughes, who scored four tries – the Ferns were always a threat when they got deep into the visitors’ territory.

There were signs of a team capable of playing some exciting attacking rugby with two of their five tries being well-crafted and finished and two resulting from the kind of play that keeps the opposition wondering what will happen next.

Though the Broncos started where they left off in their 104-0 defeat of Oxford Cavaliers last week, the Ferns had the better of the second quarter and a period midway through the second half when they scored three superb tries in a blistering 15-minute spell.

The Ferns rarely saw the ball in the first fifteen minutes as the Broncos made good yards forward and used the kicking game on the back of that to build pressure.

The first try came after just five minutes. Obstinate defence had kept the home line intact until scrum half Courteny Treco went over for a try to which she added the first of her seven goals.

Five minutes later, Iona McCusker crossed out wide and then Hughes scored her first of the day driving over from close range. Soon afterwards, Kinesha Selby crossed for the Broncos’ fourth try cutting back on an angled run through a spreadeagled defence to the posts.

Treco’s goal made it 22-0 with a quarter of the game gone, but the Broncos suddenly began to make errors allowing the Ferns into the game.

They were able to camp inside the Broncos’ 20-metre area and knocked at the door until finally their persistence paid off as Bobbie Jackson found a tiny gap from dummy half to force her way over with the last play of the half.

The second period started well for the Ferns. Their first set was a copybook one with quick, clean play the balls and hard running from backs and forwards followed by a good kick to give the Broncos possession deep in their own territory.

But it only took one missed tackle for the Broncos to undo all that good work from the Ferns as they extended their lead when Selby raced in from halfway after piercing the home defensive line.

Hughes crossed again five minutes later and then Selby made another break finished this time by Faye Hamp. Treco’s goal made it 38-4 and surely just a matter of ‘how many’.

The Ferns had other ideas as they continued to play with belief and purpose and the Broncos wobbled.

An error from the restart saw the impressive Ellen Witt catch the defence short following the scrum to burst over for a try, converted well from wide out by Vicky Mansell.

The visitors then made errors early in three of their next four sets to give the Ferns a platform and Witt struck again from a superb move involving Eli Mei and the halves, Lucy Juffkins and Sarah Humphries.

The home side now had the bit firmly between their teeth, and after holding the Broncos out for a full set on their tryline, tried the unexpected.

Humphries’ short kick out wide caught the Broncos completely cold and Kalee Hopkins took possession before showing a clean pair of heels to race half the length of the field to the posts.

Mansell added the extras and the scoreboard looked very different at 20-38.

However, the visitors rallied in the final ten minutes with Hughes scoring twice in quick succession to stretch the lead and bring up the half century, before the Ferns responded. Winning possession back from the restart, they fashioned a move that ended with Jackson scrambling over for her second try.

The Broncos had the last word, though, Jessica Ingram dotting down in the corner to conclude a really good game of rugby.

The Ferns showed that, though they may struggle against some of the more powerful sides in the Women’s Super League South, they are quite capable of taking on and beating those at a similar stage of development as themselves.

Their forthcoming games against the Army and Oxford will be a further test of their progress so far.




GOLDEN FERNS: Ellen Witt; Eli Mei, Katie Reynolds, Vicky Mansell, Olivia Critchley; Lucy Juffkins, Sarah Humphries; Gemma Gould, Bobbie Jackson, Emily Swales; Sarah Burgess, Emma Quarterman; Annie Allen (Capt); INTERCHANGE: Emma Chaning-Pearce, Laura Panting, Nyima Touray, Kalee Hopkins, Rhiannon Laugharne, Nicole Crowley, Rose Brown.


Tries: Jackson (38, 78), Witt (54, 62), Hopkins (68)

Goals: Allen 0 from 1, Mansell 2 from 3, Humphries 1 from 1.

BRONCOS: Sophie Messem; Sophie Tauchert, Iona McCusker, Rosie Cairns, Laura Cook; Kathryn Salter, Courtney Treco (Capt); Kinesha Selby, Jessica Ingram, Angharad McCormack; Faye Hamp, Emily Hughes; Jamie Blazejewski; INTERCHANGE: Roisin Healy, Carys Evans, Tatum Gabriel.


Tries: Treco (5), McCusker (11), Hughes (16, 48, 71, 76), Selby (23, 41), Hamp (51), Ingram (80)

Goals: Treco 7 from 10

Golden Ferns player of the Match: Olivia Critchley.

Scoring sequence: 0-6, 0-10, 0-16, 0-22, 4-22, (HT), 4-28, 4-32, 4-38, 10-38, 14-38, 20-38, 20-44, 20-50, 24-50, 24-54, (FT)

Penalty Count: 5-6

Referee: Malcolm Holmes

Image: Pictured scoring one of her hat-trick of tries against Bedford Tigers a fortnight ago, The Ferns’ Bobbie Jackson scored two more tries against the Broncos (Image courtesy of Lewis Mitchell Photography)