ARMY RL 110 – 0 GOLDEN FERNS
Christopher Wilson at Aldershot Garrison Sports Centre
The Army cruised into the Women’s Super League South Final with a crushing 110-0 victory over the Golden Ferns.
Second row Beth Dainton grabbed five of the Army’s 19 tries as their superb great support play punched holes in midfield that they exploited ruthlessly.
There was much friendly rivalry between the sides as the Army RL captain Emily White has been coaching the Ferns and full back Fionidi Parker, stand-off Emily Carlisle and hooker Victoria Gilmartin could have been wearing the Golden Fern this season.
The Ferns lost Mirran Duffy on the eve of the game after she was called up to go to Afghanistan. Her replacement signed on Friday evening, Samantha West had a good game, playing her full part in a brave effort by the Ferns.
Trish Brown was a standout with some good carries and solid defence as her side tried hard throughout and never let their heads drop despite the mounting scoreline.
The Ferns started well, winning a repeat set from the kick-off and putting the Army side under pressure.
However, the chance was lost after an error and immediately Dainton was away for the first of her five-try haul.
Elychia Watson crossed for the second and the speedy Parker added a third before the clock had reached double figures. Watson went on to collect a hat-trick for the Army, as did Carlisle.
Parker and Helen Tang crossed twice while Kaiya Glynn added 17 goals to her two tries for a 42-point haul. Isabella Inglis and Sarah Mitchelson also crossed in the rout.
After Carlisle had crossed for her first score, the Ferns had a great chance of a deserved try when Claire Knighton intercepted but didn’t have the pace to reach the other end of the field, being hauled down 20 metres from glory.
After that chance went begging midway through the first half, the Ferns didn’t have the ball in hand again until five minutes into the second half as the Army scored on nine consecutive sets either side of the break.
A ball steal ended with Carlisle scoring again before Parker raced through from inside her own half to touch down. Tang and then Inglis profited from smart support play before Glynn raced through from halfway to score.
The Army crossed twice more as last tackle plays came off for Dainton and Tang to have nine tries on the board by the interval.
Trailing 64-0, the Ferns stepped up to the plate in the second period and put up some stubborn resistance but couldn’t break the Army’s defence.
A rugby league record score seemed to be in the offing but the Ferns dug in and possession-wise, the second half was more even, though the Army had the finishing power to end their sets with points.
After Carlisle and Glynn had pushed the score to 76-0, The Ferns began to gain a small foothold in the game with a little more possession in the right area of the field and a little more aggression in defence.
Eli Mei moved to hooker and there was a noticeable step up in the speed of the ruck giving the Ferns’ ball carriers a little more time to run.
Mei herself went close to scoring from dummy half on the Army line but was pushed back.
The Ferns continued to go through their sets relatively error-free and Vicky Mansell created a good scoring chance for herself with 15 minutes left.
She bravely limped off the bench to take her place in a Ferns attack. Taking the ball, she put in a dangerous chip kick to the corner and chased hard. But her show of courage wasn’t rewarded as she was beaten to the ball by a desperate defender who hacked it out of play.
Her bravery cost her as she re-injured her ankle and had to leave the field.
From the resulting handover, the Ferns maintained pressure on the Army line and a high kick from Sarah Humphries – who kicked superbly all day – was chased well by the Ferns and they forced a goal-line dropout and a repeat set.
However, they just couldn’t get the score their efforts deserved and Dainton finished the scoring with her fifth try of the day coasting through the defence from inside her own half.
In the other semi final Cardiff Demons defeated London Broncos 38-20 but the match was halted five minutes from time after Demons’ captain Shaunni Davies suffered a serious-looking knee injury.
ARMY RL: Fionidi Parker; Helen Tang, Elychia Watson, Kaiya Glynn, Katie Price; Emily Carlisle, Jenna Greening; Skye Jackson, Victoria Gilmartin, Ella Donnelly; Bethan Dainton, Sarah Mitchelson; Emily White (Capt); INTERCHANGE: Isabella Inglis, Emily Murphy, Jessica Williams, Victoria Lea, Victoria Carbutt, Courtney Cornish, Claire Adams-Richardson.
Tries: Dainton (2, 37, 52, 65, 77), Watson (4, 55, 69), Parker (7, 25), Carlisle (13, 22, 41), Tang (28, 39), Inglis (31), Glynn (33, 44), Mitchelson (49)
Goals: Glynn 17 from 19
GOLDEN FERNS: Stephanie Coles; Emma Mingo, Katy Hancock, Samantha West, Eli Mei; Sarah Humphries, Vicky Mansell; Tricia Brown, Ffion Griffiths, Lisa Newman; Claire Knighton, Faye Harley; Laura Panting (Capt); INTERCHANGE: Bethany Price.
Golden Fern Player of the Match: Tricia Brown. With big carries in attack and big tackles in defence Tricia was outstanding for the whole 80 minutes.
Scoring sequence: 6-0, 12-0, 18-0, 24-0, 30-0, 36-0, 42-0, 48-0, 54-0, 58-0, 64-0 (HT), 70-0, 76-0, 82-0, 88-0, 92-0, 98-0, 104-0, 110-0, (FT)
Penalty Count: 1-1
Referee: Peter Smith
Image: Tricia Brown, the Golden Ferns’ player of the match against the Army (Image courtesy Lewis Mitchell photography)