Last Sunday the Gazelles had an early start as they travelled to Devon to face league leaders Cullompton in a top of the table clash.
As they left the safety of their Surrey home the heavens opened and the constant rain would be a feature for the rest of the day. After the long journey and in the gloomy conditions the Gazelles knew they would have to play at their very best to come away with any points. Playing into the wind in the first half the Gazelles started strongly and looked after the greasy ball well, probing the Cullompton defence. Although not making significant inroads the Gazelles were dominating set piece possession and territory, and with all things going in their favour turned down an opportunity to take 3 points from a penalty and continued their assault on the Cullompton line. Unfortunately a lapse in concentration allowed the Cullompton centre the chance to break out of their half. After a few phases Guildford gave away a penalty which Cullompton didn’t waste and broke the deadlock taking a 3-0 lead.
As you would expect with a top of the table clash there were few scoring opportunities both sides defending resiliently, however Guildford’s pack maintained an upper hand and after getting within a few metres of the try line they patiently picked and went before number 8 Victoria Boothman scrambled over to take the score to 3-5. Cullompton responded strongly as the half drew to a close, and after a poor clearance from the Gazelles Cullompton broke to take possession into the Gazelles 22. After retaining the ball Cullompton deservedly scored and converted, taking a 10-5 lead in to half time.
With the wind in their favour the Gazelles were still well in the game and started the second half with a physical presence that had been missing in previous games. From 1-15 the Gazelles dominated the ruck area, successfully clearing any threats and allowing the team to continue to control the ball and giving Cullompton no option but to attempt to kick and clear their lines with an unbreakable blue wall in constant sight. Even with all this pressure the Cullompton line stood strong until 10 minutes from time, when the Gazelles pack finally gained reward for their performance by driving a scrum over the line with Number 8 Boothman controlling the ball home. Kate Jenkins duly knocked over the extras to make the score 10-12. The Gazelles went on to see the game out in the same manor and the delight at the final whistle was plain to see.
Coach Ross Brooker commented that although the score was close the Gazelles were deserved winners, controlling the bulk of the game and managing the torrid conditions excellently.
The win takes the Gazelles to the top of the league but with a game every week till Christmas now it’s going to take a massive squad effort to still be there in the New Year but given recent performances they definitely have a chance to be Title contenders again.