CARDIFF DEMONS 106 – 0 GOLDEN FERNS
Christopher Wilson at USW Sports Park
The Golden Ferns fell to another heavy defeat to a Cardiff Demons side packed with internationals at the University of South Wales Sports Park.
The Demons scored in the first minute and the last and were in total control throughout as they ran in 20 tries against a gallant but totally outclassed Golden Ferns side.
The Ferns had few chances to score themselves so they simply tackled themselves to a standstill.
Both sides had already qualified for next week’s semi finals but the Demons had their unbeaten record to protect and were in the mood for tries following their 96-0 mauling of the Cornish Rebels last week.
Second row Bryonie King marked a fine display of powerful running with five tries while centre Lowri Norkett added a superb long-range touchdown in the second half to the hat-trick she collected in the first period.
Ffion Jones, who had opened the scoring in the first minute after the Ferns had lost possession from the kick-off scored twice as did twin sister Sara.
Other tries came from Ffion Lewis, Rosie Carr, Mollie Reardon, Eleri Michael, Leanna Maybank, Lily Snape and Charlie Mundy. Leanne Burnell kicked a dozen goals, Shaunnie Davies one.
The Ferns needed to get a good opening set under their belts but conceded a try inside 30 seconds and were never in the game thereafter.
They only had brief periods with ball in hand as the Demons monopolised possession but they worked their sets well and got to their kick more often than not. However, the Welsh defence was solid and there was little opportunity for a break.
They weren’t helped by the rather harsh sin-binning midway through the first half of Claire Knighton for tripping when the contact with Burnell looked to be accidental as the fullback returned a kick.
The Ferns conceded immediately but held on with 12 players until the very end of the ten minutes when Norkett crossed for her third try.
The Ferns’ heads never dropped and they kept battling away despite the gulf in class.
Early in the second half they had a spell of five consecutive sets on the Welsh line thanks to some generous penalty calls and Cerys Brown went close but they couldn’t get the ball wide to create a clear scoring opportunity.
The sin-binning of Demons’ prop Lauren Aitken for persistent offside during that period slowed the scoring slightly with the home side crossing just twice while a player down.
To make matters worse, the Ferns had injury woes to contend with. Midway through the second half Vicky Mansell suffered a leg injury leaving her side without substitutes.
When Eli Mei went off with a head knock, they were down to 12 and didn’t have the ball in their hands at all for the last ten minutes of the game.
When Ffion Griffiths saw yellow for a high tackle, the Demons ran in three converted tries against the 11 gallant Ferns to rack up a century of points.
Both sides will be in action next week in the play-off semi-finals in Aldershot. The Golden Ferns take on the Army while the Demons face London Broncos.
DEMONS: Leanne Burnell; Leanna Maybank, Lowri Norkett, Rosie Carr, Eleri Michael; Ffion Lewis, Shaunni Davies (Capt); Lauren Aitken, Molly Reardon, Danyelle Di Napoli; Bryonie King, Charlie Mundy; Ffion Jones; INTERCHANGE:, Sara Jones, Sara Prosser, Lily Snape, Ffion Jenkins, Katie Carr, Ceri-Louise, Caitlin Brown.
Tries: F. Jones (1, 64), King (3, 35, 39, 71, 79), Norkett (10, 17, 24, 56), Lewis (27), S. Jones (32, 62), R. Carr (41), Reardon (44), Michael (53), Maybank (68), Snape (74), Mundy (77)
Goals: Davies 1 from 3, Burnell 12 from 17
GOLDEN FERNS: Stephanie Coles; Ffion Griffiths, Lucy Juffkins, Mirran Duffy, Eli Mei; Vicky Mansell, Sarah Humphries; Bethany Price, Katie Cobain, Lisa Newton; Claire Knighton, Faye Harley; Laura Panting (Capt); INTERCHANGE: Cerys Brown.
Golden Fern Player of the Match: Coach for the day Annie-Beth Allen gave the honour to Katie Cobain who played in many positions during the match, all with a smile on her face.
Scoring sequence: 6-0, 10-0, 14-0, 18-0, 24-0, 30-0, 36-0, 42-0, 48-0, (HT), 52-0, 58-0, 64-0, 68-0, 72-0, 78-0, 82-0, 88-0, 94-0, 100-0, 106-0, (FT)
Penalty Count: 4-7
Sin Bin: Knighton (Ferns), Tripping (15); Aitken (Demons), Persistent offside (49); Griffiths (Ferns), high tackle (73).
Referee: John Brewer
Image: Golden Ferns’ Claire Knighton tries to force her way through the Demons’ (Image courtesy Lewis Mitchell photography)