GOLDEN FERNS 32 – 10 CORNISH REBELS
The Golden Ferns made a winning debut in the Women’s Super League with a 32-10 win over the Cornish Rebels who were also playing their first ever game of rugby league.
The Ferns ran in seven tries – five of them in a devastating first half that saw them play some quality rugby both in attack and defence.
Under a warm sun, the Golden Ferns received the opening kick-off and drove the ball forward confidently. The sixth tackle kick was fumbled by the Rebels’ full back at the expense of a goal-line dropout. From the kick, captain Annie Allen ran a great arcing line to score out wide for the perfect start.
The side built on their advantage steadily through the first period. Good running and passing created opportunities regularly and they were taken with a flourish.
With five minutes gone, prop Trish Brown crashed over for the first of her hat-trick of tries before some lovely handling was finished by Gemma Parish.
It was not just in attack that the Ferns were dominant. Their defence was pinned back several times during the opening half but good organisation and strong tackling made sure the Rebels couldn’t get across the line.
Midway through the half, Brown went over for her second try to make the score 16-0 and though Emma Mingo had yet to convert any of the tries, the scoreline fully reflected the performance.
With eight minutes to go to the interval, the Rebels were pinned on their own line and forced into a wild clearance kick that went out of play in their own in-goal.
From the drop-out restart The Ferns pressed and Laura Panting scored from close range. Mingo added the extras.
Just before the interval, the Rebels mounted their best attack of the game sweeping downfield from deep in their own territory, but the Ferns were able to snuff out the danger and tackle the Rebels attacker into touch
The interval came as a welcome rest for both sides but it did interrupt the flow of the game and the second period was more scrappy and flowed less easily than the first had.
It was only at the end of the third quarter that the first score came when Katie Bouston forced her way over for the Rebels to score their first ever try.
The Ferns responded well, immediately forcing an error and creating the position for Brown to show strength and footwork to score. Mingo added the goal to make the score 32-4.
Five minutes later, Allen ran a superb line to go over for her second try to cap a real captain’s performance.
The Rebels had the last word with a try from close range by Bethany Hampton converted by Emma Steffantoni with ten minutes remaining but both sides can take plenty of positives from the game and the performance from their teams.
It was a superb start to the Super League season for the Ferns, but next week’s game against a strong Cardiff Demons outfit at SGS (Saturday 3 July, kick off 12noon) will be a stern test.
GOLDEN FERNS: Emma Mingo; Olivia Clark, Gemma Parish, Ella Dawkins, Ailsa Shaw; Liz Richards, Sarah Humphries; Nyima Touray, Ffion Griffiths, Trish Brown; Claire Knighton, Laura Panting; Annie Allen (Capt); INTERCHANGE: Beth Vasey, Katherine Joinson, Cerys Brown.
Tries: Allen (2, 66), T. Brown (5, 23, 61), Parish (14), Panting (32)
Goals: Mingo 2 from 7.
REBELS: Emma Steffantoni; Chelsea Jobling, Faith Rowe, Megan Shroff, Jenny Defriez; Louise Dennis, Mariella Blanchard; Josie Ninnis, Zoe Aubert, Emma Parkman; Katie Bouston, Jenna Saberton; Bethany Hampton; INTERCHANGE: Bobbie Jackson, Chantal Watson, Zeta Penrose, Holly Evans, Joanne Buscombe, Rebecca Silgram, Claire Matthews.
Tries: Bouston (58), Hampton (71)
Goals: Staffatoni 1 from 2
Golden Fern Player of the Match: Annie Allen
Scoring sequence: 4-0, 8-0, 12-0, 16-0, 22-0, (HT), 22-4, 28-4, 32-4, 32-10, (FT)
Penalty Count: 1-5
Referee: Malcolm Holmes
Image: Golden Ferns captain Annie Allen takes on the Rebels defence on the way to the Ferns’ first ever try in rugby league (Image courtesy Lewis Mitchell Photography).