Bristol rely on a powerful maul to secure an away win against Firwood Waterloo 20-16

By Lyndsey Dorries

Firwood Waterloo execute their game-plan well but are unable to come away with more than a losing bonus point

Heavy pre-match rain made conditions tricky and both teams committed early penalties. With ball in hand Bristol started quickly, fast-paced running, good lines and a cleverly placed kick pressured the home team although their defence was alert and held well. Securing the ball from a line out Bristol pushed forward, their maul gaining the 5 meters needed for Amelia Buckland-Hurry to score the 1st try 9 minutes in.

From the re-start Firwood Waterloo’s the home side looked for any opportunity to keep the ball in the opposition half. Bethany Stott’s (sponsored by Eddy Warrington) kicking proved effective in kicking for territory, linking up well with a great chase from the backs to pressure Bristol’s attempts to secure the ball. Playing in the opposition half came with rewards 18 minutes in with a try from Co-Captain Ash Neale. Neale’s usual ‘smash and grab’ style of rugby, which broke two tackles, came from linking nicely with the forwards who had quickly secured the ball. Bethany Stott kicked the conversion from a tight angle allowing the home side to take the lead 7-5.

Firwood Waterloo’s relentless kicking stopped Bristol putting together a run of play for much of the half, forcing errors for knocking on, not rolling away and obstructing Rebekah Wilson(sponsored by Eddie Warrington) as she put in one of many great kick chases. The home team capitalised on good field position, changing tack and having Bethany Stott slot away two penalty kicks. Bristol managed to keep in touching distance, their fast-paced attack gaining ground. A breakdown infringement by one of the Firwood Waterloo ladies allowed Amber Reed to close out the half with Bristol just 5 points behind at 13-8.

The second half saw a return of the rain and worsening conditions. Bristol came out of the break fighting but Firwood Waterloo quickly started to re-apply the pressure as in the first half. They could not break Bristol’s defence which held firm on the try line and Firwood Waterloo could only put another 3 points on the scoreboard through a Stott penalty.

Bristol maximised the opportunities they had when in possession of the ball, their persistence was rewarded when their powerful forwards used a set piece from a 5m scrum to get their 2nd try, the conversion pulling them within 1 point, 16-15.

The home side upped their tempo and once again tested Bristol’s defence with Michelle Davis(sponsored by Karl Winrow Tiling Contractor & Property Maintenance), Rebekah Wilson and Lauren Delany (sponsored by Roast Coffee & Kitchen) all making big runs in the second half. Although there were several missed tackles and lots of ground gained by the back threes Firwood Waterloo were unable to increase their lead. In a cruel twist for the home side, it was Bristol who broke through the line. Slipping tackles Noel-Smith gave the visitors their 3rd try, the lead and secured the win for Bristol Ladies 16-20.

This is a season of learning for Firwood Waterloo, the improvement in the team over the first three games this season is evident and as a Wolfpack they are growing stronger. Firwood Waterloo coach Rob Tilsley said after the match “performance, effort and work-rate all fantastic today, we have to keep building, keep learning. Like we have said to the players we’ll come again every week and look to improve.”

By Stuart Lee