Lewes Ladies 1st team left their home ground under the protection of the 2nds this week while they travelled to Tonbridge in their second away game of the season. A late start did not dampen Lewes’ energy, and they pushed into TJ’s half from the kick off.
See Danny Simpson's photos of the Ladies 2nd team game here>>
A special focus on Lewes' defensive line in training over the last week saw them put pressure on the home team’s attack, closing down any attempt to break through the line. A scrum on the 22 gave Lewes their first opportunity, but Tonbridge regained possession. Spotting a gap on the wing in Lewes’ defence, the TJs sent the ball up the pitch and over the line – chased to the last by Lewes defenders. Five minutes in, it was 5-0 to Tonbridge.
Lewes did not let their heads go down and chased the kick deep into TJ’s half, causing a knock-on. Lewes won the scrum and were looking dangerous in their attack. Some scrappy play ensued, with the Lewes Ladies struggling to retain the ball in the rucks. A spill from a Tonbridge player left the ball to play for on the floor. Lewes centre Becky Ford kicked the ball into space and chased it down, placing it over the line for a Lewes equaliser. Josie Nelder converted to put Lewes in the lead: 5-7.
With growing confidence, the Lewes Ladies went back into attack, testing the Tonbridge defence again and again until Becky Ford found a gap. Racing toward the try line, she was eventually stopped by the TJ’s fullback. The ball was turned over in the ruck and Tonbridge gained possession, spotting the opportunity quickly while Lewes adjusted to defensive play, they passed the ball across the park and ran the length of the pitch to score again. 10-7 to Tonbridge Juddians.
Within minutes Lewes were attacking again, having regained possession after the restart. Working their way back up the pitch the Lewes Ladies put in a great team effort, supporting one another in rucks to protect the ball and retain possession. Tonbridge didn’t get a chance to align their defence, and it was easy for Abi Radford to find a gap and make it over the line to score again. Converted again, Lewes regained the lead, and retained it until the half time whistle: 10-14.
Tonbridge came back in the second half determined, and the Lewes Ladies were caught off-guard. Within moments Lewes found themselves a try behind. This time TJs converted: 17-14.
Despite the shock of Tonbridge’s quick try, Lewes refused to let their heads drop. In what was quickly becoming a pattern, Lewes Ladies advanced into Tonbridge’s half. A great passage of attacking play saw the Ladies move closer and closer to the tryline. Strong forward balls by Rab Willis and Cat Thompson got close, but once again it was Abi Radford who made it over, and Josie Nelder who converted the try. 17-21.
In a quick series of events, Tonbridge scored again and converted to gain the lead (24-21). Shortly after they broke the pattern by scoring again, making their lead more convincing (31-21).
Still refusing to admit defeat, the Lewes Ladies continued to look dangerous on the ball. Scrumhalf Grace Darling took a series of quick penalties which allowed the Ladies to gain valuable ground. Receiving the ball from the back of a ruck, Flyhalf Josie Nelder spotted the opportunity and beat two defenders on her way over the line (31-26).
The Lewes Ladies were visibly tired now as they continued to put in a defensive shift against the home side who were making a resurgence. Lewes were making them work, but they were not able to keep them at bay, and another TJ ‘Pink Lady’ made it over the line. (36-26). Shortly after, Tonbridge broke through again to score six minutes from full-time. (41-26)
Lewes showed their maturity in continuing to put in the effort. Making Tonbridge work hard in defence as well as in attack. Determined to have the last points Lewes forced their way up the pitch. An exhausted Tonbridge team attempted to defend but struggled to stop the tide of Lewes’ attack. Abi Radford broke through the line – again – but moments before she made it over the line she was illegally tackled. The ref called a penalty try (Radford’s hat-trick) and the whistle blew for full-time two minutes early, due to the injured players on the pitch. FT score 41-33.
Despite the score line, Lewes came away in high spirits – not only after hearing of the 2nds’ success – but also because of the great performance they had put in against Tonbridge Juddians who are currently second in the league. The 1st team will take the positives from this week’s loss into their first cup game against St Francis next week.
In their first ever home fixture, Lewes Ladies’ 2nds beat Cranbrook 25-5. Next week they will take on Tonbridge Juddian 2nd team in Kent.
Updated 21:21 - 15 Oct 2017 by Peter Barron