BRISTOL GOLDEN FERNS 22 – 26 ARMY DEVELOPMENT XIII
Christopher Wilson at SGS WISE Campus, Bristol
Taking the field through a guard of honour from the Bristol All Golds who had thumped Torfaen Tigers in the earlier match at the SGS, the Golden Ferns rang down the curtain on an impressive season by banishing the memories of last year’s 110-0 drubbing by the Army with a composed, committed and skilful performance, though ending with an agonising 26-22 defeat.
Half a dozen Ferns remained from that game, while five members of the Army side lined up to face the Bristol side including Kaiya Glynn, who scored two tries and 17 goals for a 42-point haul in Aldershot.
It looked as if she would get somewhere near that again as she crossed after just two minutes had elapsed following an error and the concession of a penalty by the home side.
Both sides slugged it out for the next 20 minutes or so in an absorbing and entertaining game. Neither could break through until the Ferns turned over possession trying an ambitious short side play.
From the scrum, two drives took them close and Glynn went over again.
However, the Ferns were stung into action. They recovered the restart and battered the Army line for four tackles before Bobbie Jackson wriggled over for her ninth try of an amazing season.
Confidence coursed through the Ferns and they drove straight back into Army territory. After just two tackles the Army’s resistance broke, a huge gap opened in the defence and Tricia Brown powered through it for the try.
Sarah Humphries added her second goal to give the Ferns a 12-10 lead they held until the interval.
The lead lasted barely a minute into the second half as Glynn completed her hat-trick to edge the visitors ahead 14-10 and they had the better of the play for the next 15 minutes until India King exploited a gap behind the play the ball to scoot in from 20 metres out. Glynn goaled to extend the lead to two scores.
The Ferns quickly hit back. After good approach play, Lucy Juffkins ran an arcing line between centre and winger to score wide out, too wide for Humphries to improve.
The game was in the balance as the final quarter began and it looked as if neither side would be able to strike the final blow as the game entered the final few minutes.
Sadly it was an error by the Ferns that gave the Army their opportunity and they didn’t waste it as, after spending almost a whole set on the Ferns line, Freya Thatcher found the space to touch down, Glynn’s goal made it 26-16.
Surely the game was over, but the Ferns’ defensive pressure forced an error near the Army line and Brown powered over from close range as the defence parted again.
Humphries goaled but there wasn’t enough time for the Ferns to grab the tying score and possibly win the game as the final whistle sounded marking the end of a great game and an impressive season from the Ferns.
Though their only win came against Oxford, they pushed the London Broncos hard and were far more competitive against the Cardiff Demons. The game at Bedford was a disappointment but, overall, 2022 was definitely a season of two steps forward for the Golden Ferns.
GOLDEN FERNS: Suzie Beavin; Eli Mei, Vicky Mansell, Lucy Juffkins, Ffion Griffiths; Annie Allen (Capt), Sarah Humphries; Tricia Brown, Bobbie Jackson, Ella Dawkins; Emma Quarterman, Emily Swales; Laura Panting; INTERCHANGE: Emma Chaning-Pearce, Linda McLean, Rhiannon Laugharne.
Tries: Jackson (28), Brown (32, 78), Juffkins (60)
Goals: Humphries 3 from 4
ARMY XIII: Siteri Bialiklia; Jess McAuley, Nat Goode (Capt), Kaiya Glynn, Courtney Cornish; Emily Carlisle, Jenna Greening; Phoebe Partington, India King, Skye Jackson; Sam Burnell, Emily Murphy; Zoe Watson; INTERCHANGE: Freya Thatcher, Sarah Hanser, Cerys Green, Kat Williams, Angela Carr, Rachel Littleboy, Sandie Lewis.
Tries: Glynn (2, 25, 41), King (56), Thatcher (74)
Goals: Glynn 3 from 5
Golden Ferns player of the Match: Suzie Beavin.
Scoring sequence: 0-6, 0-10, 6-10, 12-10, (HT), 12-14, 12-20, 16-20, 16-26, 22-26, (FT)
Penalty Count: 4-4
Referee: David Lancaster
Image: The Ferns celebrate Tricia Brown’s second half try (Image courtesy of Lewis Mitchell Photography)