After a couple weeks off the gazelles continued their league season with an away trip to Newbury. Last season there were 2 really close games between the sides, both coming away with 1 win each so Guildford knew that they had to be at their best to come away with a victory. Guildford have been starting games very quickly and there were no exception today, having kicked off Guildford caught their own kick off and laid siege to the Newbury try line, Newbury however, managed to repel this opening onslaught and after a couple of mistakes from Guildford eased the pressure towards half way. The tide shifted at this point, the Newbury scrum half who was a constant threat all afternoon managed to snipe through the defensive line to gain valuable territory, with this gain Newbury got a roll on and finally after successive phases of play, spun the ball wide for their 10 to crash over. Having started so well, Guildford were shocked by this response from Newbury and after turning the ball over, interlinking play between forwards and backs allowed their 15 to go over, taking the score to 12-0.
Guildford struggled through the rest of the first half and couldn’t find their usual continuity and were fortunate to escape to half time without conceding any further points.
Using this time to regroup Guildford went to their tried and tested exit strategy and with Kate Jenkins finding her kicking boots exited their half from kick off. The Guildford forwards began to turn the screw on the Newbury pack threatening their line outs and demolishing their scrums. This ability to disrupt Newbury set play meant that Guildford were getting the lions share of possession, managing to retain the ball and go through phases, Guildford’s forwards interlinked to put Ruth Harper over for gazelles first score, this was unconverted. From kick off, Guildford again exited and after securing a foothold in the oppositions 22, the Guildford pack managed to drive Newbury off their own ball at a scrum, allowing Vicky Boothman to dart over the line from close range. With this being converted by jenkins, the score was 12-12. The momentum now was fully with the gazelles, captain and scrum half Gracie New upped the tempo of the game with sniping runs and quick tap penalties. From one of these quick tap penalties, she scythed through the Newbury defence and with great reaction work from Boothman and Emily Joy who combined well sent Joy over for the gazelles third, this was Converted by Jenkins making it 12-19. The gazelles continued their dominance of territory and possession and the physical running of the forwards was epitomised when the second row partnership combined with Becki Simmons breaking the line and tipping to Anna Clarke to scurry over. Converted 26-12.
With 10 minutes to go Guildford were now in touching distance which looked at half time very unlikely of a bonus point victory, however Newbury were still clinging onto a bonus point themselves. This led to a frantic finish to the game with Guildford camped in Newbury’s 22 and Newbury’s defending resilient having being held up twice over the line and with full time seconds away, the gazelles managed to move the ball repeatedly from side to side stretching Newbury defence before New and Jenkins combined to put winger Debbie Hayden over in the corner to secure a bonus point victory. Coach Alastair Davis commented
‘After a poor first half performance it was great to see the response from the girls in the second half, not only with a victory but a bonus point it is a testament to the resilience of the group’