BRISTOL GOLDEN FERNS 0 – 58 CARDIFF DEMONS
Christopher Wilson at SGS WISE Campus, Bristol
Faced with thirteen internationals who had given the full England side a run for their money a fortnight ago, it was no surprise that the Ferns succumbed to a heavy defeat.
However, it was an improvement on the 88-6 mauling suffered last season and there was promise in the performance, though it shone through only intermittently.
Both sides had made changes coming into the game with the Ferns fielding four debutants and the Welsh side showing their embarrassment of riches with a number of regulars away on international rugby union sevens duty.
This was perhaps the cause of the disjointed nature of the first quarter with both sides dropping the ball with frustrating regularity.
The Demons had sneaked into a 12-0 lead by that time, Briony King opening the scoring in the second minute after the Ferns had made a mess of the kick-off but the expected avalanche of points didn’t arrive.
The brave Ferns’ resistance was helped by the Demons’ profligacy as twice winger Savannah Picton-Powell was given uncatchable passes with open field in front of her. On the opposite wing, Brittany Price lost the ball over the line when a try seemed a certainty.
Among the errors, there were plenty of big tackles going in as the Ferns stood toe to toe with their opponents. However, the intensity of the play was to take its toll on the Ferns in the second period as the Demons ran riot in the final quarter, scoring five tries.
At the interval, the Demons led 24-0, Price scoring a fine solo effort from inside her own half and a neat inside pass from the Demons’ stand off Amberley Ruck giving Katie Carr the space to cross.
Ruck converted all the first half tries in her tally of seven goals.
Despite going further behind right at the start of the second period, the Ferns made a good showing in the third quarter.
King crossed for her second after the Demons ran the ball on the last tackle of the first set of the half and eased through some disjointed defence to score.
The Ferns hit back and Tricia Brown was just unable to ground a neat kick into the in-goal from Sarah Humphries as, for the first time they built a bit of pressure.
Another Humphries kick soon afterwards caused consternation in the Demons’ ranks but the ball bounced kindly for them in the end and they kept their line intact.
By that time Ruck had sent Sara Jones over after some good ball movement across the field.
Jones scored her second eight minutes later, snapping up a loose ball and showing great pace to run in from halfway.
That signalled a dominant period from the Demons as the Ferns only had the ball for one tackle in the final quarter and Ruck controlled the game from then on.
She outflanked the Ferns with a lovely wide pass for Picton-Powell to score before Michael danced her way past any number of defenders to touch down.
King collected her hat-trick before Ruck conjured up a superb wide pass, well taken by Price who stepped inside the defence to score the Demons’ eleventh and final try.
The Demons remain unbeaten in the Super League South and are on course to retain their crown at the end of August. With their depth and talent, who would bet against them.
As for the Ferns, their two remaining games see them travel to Oxford Cavaliers before hosting the Army’s development team. A win or two is the least their progress this season deserves.
GOLDEN FERNS: Linda McLean; Bethanie Wilson, Ella Dawkins, Felicity Place, Eli Mei; Lucy Juffkins, Sarah Humphries; Tricia Brown, Ffion Griffiths, Gemma Gould; Laura Panting, Sarah Burgess; Annie Allen (Capt); INTERCHANGE: Nyima Touray, Cerys Brown, Rhiannon Laugharne, Suzanne Beavin, Leanne Spencer.
DEMONS: Eleri Michael; Brittony Price, Leanna Maybank, Rosie Carr, Savannah Picton Powell; Amberley Ruck, Rhi Parker; Sara Jones, Molly Reardon, Ffion Jenkins; Bryonie King (Capt), Charlie Mundy; Joeann McGuire; INTERCHANGE: Chelcey Greasley, Katie Carr, Sophie Solari, Lowri O’Raw, Ffion Jones.
Tries: King (1, 41, 73), Michael (20, 70), Price (26, 76), K. Carr (30), S Jones (54, 62), Picton-Powell (66)
Goals: Ruck 7 from 11
Golden Ferns player of the Match: Trish Brown
Scoring sequence: 0-6, 0-12, 0-18, 0-24, (HT), 0-30, 0-34, 0-40, 0-44, 0-48, 0-54, 0-58, (FT)
Penalty Count: 6-8
Referee: David Lancaster
Image: The Ferns’ defence holds out (Image courtesy of Lewis Mitchell Photography)