Ashfield Ladies won 26-0 at Mellish on Sunday to stay top of the league over Christmas.
The sides were evenly matched in the first 10 minutes, but slowly Ashfield gained control of the game in the midfield and were able to get the ball out to winger Jess Cranmer, who continued her try scoring run as she skipped past her opposite wing to score from the halfway line.
Ashfield kept control of the game, despite giving away penalties, some through ill discipline and some through strict refereeing.
Mellish clearly had a game plan to get the ball out to their wings where they thought they had an advantage.
However, every time they tried to execute this plan they met with strong defence in the centres.
Anything that did get out to their wing was swiftly dealt with by Ellis Thorpe who, even when faced with players seemingly much bigger and more powerful than her, made every single tackle she needed to.
Towards the end of the first half, possession was all Ashfield’s and it was inevitable that another score would come.
Following a breakdown on the right hand side of the pitch, the ball went through the hands to Cranmer waiting on the wing.
Rain and freezing conditions meant the pass did not go to hand, but she scooped up a bobbling ball and broke away down the left wing for her second try.
Chip Harrison converted and Ashfield held on with the score 12-0 at half-time.
The second half continued as the first half finished with Ashfield in control.
Players’ player of the match, flanker Vicky Fegan, was causing problems for the Mellish defence with her pace, prop Leanne Reeves was running hard whenever she got space and coaches’ player of the match Nic Wallace, was taking the ball at pace and providing support to everyone who had the ball.
With both sides down to 14 players after two sin-binnings, the penalty count was tipping in Ashfield’s favour.
Danii Booth took a quick tap penalty near the Mellish 10m line, passed it out to Reeves, who sent a ludicrous one-handed pass out to fly half Leonie Cruxon. She was able to get the ball out to Fegan who had dropped into the back line and Fegan danced through the Mellish defence and ran in for Ashfield’s third try.
Ashfield made changes during the second half. Sarah Thellman came onto the right wing and proved herself defensively as she had several loose balls to mop up, while Violet Devonshire, the youngest player in the squad, came on and played her best ever game so far for Ashfield Ladies. Cranmer completed her hat-trick with a carbon copy of her first two scores and Harrison landed her third conversion of the match.
Ashfield continued to control the game as weather conditions worsened and, despite the soft ground, carried on playing fast rugby.
With three minutes to go saw a desperate kick down the centre of the pitch from the Mellish fly half deep inside her own 22 saw Harriet Gibbs, proving herself once again to be a reliable full back, run the ball back at Mellish.
The game was over shortly afterwards when Mellish gave away a scrum.
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