GOLDEN FERNS 6 – 88 CARDIFF DEMONS
Facing a Cardiff Demons side that fielded eight of the Welsh team that played England in Warrington last weekend, the Golden Ferns’ second outing was always going to be a difficult task.
The Demons played some excellent rugby league and ran in 17 tries but, ignoring the scoreline, the Ferns had plenty to be pleased about after the second step on their long journey.
There were a number of improvements from their 32-10 win over the Cornish Rebels. They made far fewer mistakes in possession and their discipline was excellent despite the steadily mounting total against them, conceding just two penalties.
They had improved technically and tactically as well and worked hard as a team from the first whistle to the last, which bodes well for the future.
For the Demons, centre Lowri Norkett was a threat throughout and scored four quality tries. Scrum half Shaunni Davies also crossed four times and ran the midfield with good running and distribution. Ffion Lewis at hooker was always probing and her hat-trick was augmented by ten conversions.
All three played against England and their quality was clear to see.
The Ferns had few opportunities to score points. In the first period, they went close after a good restart kick forced a goal-line dropout, but after gaining back-to-back penalties the opportunity went as quickly as it came as the Demons’ defence held firm.
Midway through the second period, the Demons indiscipline again conceded three consecutive penalties and though their defensive intensity lifted, the Ferns worked hard to create an opportunity. Finally, with support outside, Ella Dawkins cut back inside and forced her way over for a try the Ferns’ performance deserved.
Vicky Mansell banged over the goal and though the Demons scored twice more before the end, the Ferns could be proud of their efforts.
Captain Annie Allen continued her good form from last week while newcomers Katy Hancock and Anne-Marie Sayle performed well and will be valuable additions to the Ferns’ squad. Dawkins took her try well and the rest of the side kept their heads up throughout despite the scoreline.
Having been given a week off, the Ferns will regroup on Tuesday week and begin preparations for the long trip to Cornwall to face the Cornish Rebels, hoping to do the double over their rivals for a play-off place.
GOLDEN FERNS: Emma Mingo; Olivia Clark, Gemma Tyrrell, Ella Dawkins, Ailsa Shaw; Vicky Mansell, Sarah Humphries; Nyima Touray, Eli Mei, Laura Panting; Claire Knighton, Anne-Marie Sayle; Annie Allen (Capt); INTERCHANGE: Katy Hancock, Cerys Brown, Katherine Cobain.
Tries: Dawkins (63)
Goals: Mansell 1 from 1.
DEMONS: Eleri Michael; Leanna Maybank, Lowri Norkett, Seren Gough-Walters, Chelcey Greasley; Amberley Ruck, Shaunni Davies; Stacey Wright, Ffion Lewis, Danyelle Di Napoli; Kim Boater, Charlie Mundy; Joeann McGuire; INTERCHANGE: Molly Reardon, Caitlin Brown, Ffion Jenkins, Ceri-Louise Wanklyn.
Tries: Davies (2, 4, 17, 46), Norkett (5, 23, 41, 72), Lewis (11, 13, 49), Mundy (19), Gough-Walters (21), Boater (26, 55), Michael (56), Reardon (65)
Goals: Lewis 10 from 17
Golden Fern Player of the Match: Coach Emily White felt that the Ferns’ performance merited the whole team earning the honour but neutrals picked out Katy Hancock as a stand-out performer.
Scoring sequence: 0-6, 0-12, 0-18, 0-22, 0-28, 0-34, 0-38, 0-44, 0-48, 0-52, (HT), 0-56, 0-62, 0-66, 0-72, 0-78, 6-78, 6-84, 6-88, (FT)
Penalty Count: 6-2
Referee: Kristoff Young
Image: Golden Ferns’ try-scorer Ella Dawkins takes on the Cardiff defence (Image courtesy Lewis Mitchell photography)