Last Sunday the Gazelles travelled west to meet Newbury in their first fixture of the new year. Guildford started strongly attacking the Newbury line with an excellent kick off resulting in sustained pressure around the Newbury 22. The first scrum saw Newbury driven back 5m and resulted in a period of pressure which unfortunately didn’t lead to points.
Newbury countered with a break from deep that was stopped by an outstanding tackle from young fullback Abbie Watkin. Jess Dale attacked off the back of the resulting scrum taking Gazelles back in the right direction, a series of quick rucks followed before Katie Davies spotted a gap in the defence and ran in from halfway with an exceptional solo effort to score wide on the right, leaving herself a difficult conversion that was ultimately unsuccessful.
From the kick off play moved from half to half with Guildford’s fly half Davies using her tactical kicking to pin Newbury back in their half, this again led to a sustained period of pressure and Newbury were eventually undone by the forwards with Jess Dale crashing over in the middle of the pitch gifting Davies a much easier conversation that was duly despatched to take Gazelles 12 points ahead.
With the wind in their sails the Gazelles put their foot down and almost immediately Abbie Watkin found space wide on the right taking the Gazelles 0-17 up and the young full back added another try shortly after in near identical fashion leaving the score 0-22.
Although the chat was to keep the intensity high a 6 week break of turkey and mince pies began to take its toll and Newbury began to find some joy in the wide channels, eventually getting their first points on the board taking the game to 5-22. The next score was also to newbury coming back to 10-22 with the momentum definitely beginning to shift.
The second half started with a free kick to Guildford as Newbury retreated to their changing rooms and were late back for the kick off. Zoo Overton attacked off the back of the scrum and Katie Davies showed more kicking skills. The play moved back and forth before Newbury put the first points on the board taking it to 15-22. Guildford seemed nervous however there was a first league try to come from “finisher” Vicky Harbridge who crashed over from close to the line. Despite the relatively central location Davies could only hit the crossbar with her kick and the extras were not collected, Gazelles moved to 15-27 and the bonus point. Unfortunately the Newbury attack came back into it with 2 further tries setting their hooker up with a difficult kick to draw the match which she duly dispatched. Guildford will rue many missed opportunities late in the second half as they left Newbury with a draw and a bonus point. The teams sit with Gazelles in third and Newbury fourth. Guildford lie 1 point behind Cullompton in second.
This will be a learning curve for this young Gazelles squad and hopefully will look to come back from this against table toppers Reading Abbey this weekend when they will look to disrupt an unbeaten Nuns season. The away fixture in Reading was very close with only one try separating the teams and the Gazelles would be grateful for a loud balcony support on Sunday afternoon.
Player of the match Emma Swadlo
Back Abbie Watkin
Forward Ruth Harper
Match report written by Gold Star Reporting