Smith against Lightning

Having led for virtually the whole game, Gloucester-Hartpury Women tasted defeat in the cruellest possible way in the Tyrrells Premiers 15 on Saturday as a penalty try with the last play of the game secured a 40-41 victory for Loughborough Lightning.

Despite scoring six tries on the day and, having led 28-15 at half-time, Susie Appleby’s side could never quite shake off a dogged Loughborough side and paid the price as the visitors swooped at the last minute.

It was tough to take for a Gloucester-Hartpury side that had played some great rugby at times, but just couldn’t close the game out. However, it was a massive improvement in terms of commitment and performance from the defeat away at Bristol the week before.

On the day though, it was a great start for the visitors who took the lead with a try from winger Isla Alejandro within two minutes.

Gloucester-Hartpury responded well and pinned the visitors back for the next 15 minutes or so, building pressure patiently and finally getting their reward when Ceri Large’s cross kick found Mary-Ann Gittings who dotted down in the corner.

The same tactic then very nearly worked for Kelly Smith, but the ball was adjudged to have gone forward. However, Loughborough knocked on at the base of the scrum and quick hands sent Ellie Underwood over on the opposite wing.

Gloucester-Hartpury now had their tails up and two tries from Kelly Smith followed, but Loughborough had the final word of the half when prop Maleaka Menin went over to make the half-time score 28-15.

But it was the visitors who seized the initiative in the second half, tries from Lucas and Jones narrowing the gap to 28-27 before Ellie Underwood scored her second to settle the nerves with Loughborough down to 14 players with Maryke Penman sinbinned for a deliberate knock-on.

The Lightning hit back again with a second try from prop Justine Lucas, but Gloucester-Hartpury looked to have sealed the win as Bianca Blackburn broke clear and showed great pace to score after 76 minutes.

However, the restart wasn’t dealt with and Gloucester-Hartpury found themselves defending their own line. Sasha Acheson was harshly sinbinned for offside before referee Davies awarded a penalty try after a five metre scrum to see the visitors snatch a dramatic win.