GAZELLES VS AYLESFORD BULLS
SUNDAY 10th DECEMBER 2023
The Gazelles welcomed Aylesford Bulls to Broadwater last Sunday and both sides were grateful that the rain subsided before kick-off after a damp morning. With a few players out with injury and unavailability, the Gazelles still managed to field 17 players and amongst the squad there was the welcome return of former skipper Helen Harris after a long-term injury and some time travelling the world.
The Gazelles supporters had been used to fast starts and were not disappointed. Early pressure led to a host of opportunities for the home side and after a mistake from an Aylesford scrum which pushed the visitors back within 5m of their own try-line, the Gazelles forward pack managed to charge down the attempted clearance kick which allowed backrow Bella Davies to pounce on the loose ball and open the scoring.
This was quickly followed by fly-half Rosie Tugwell who threw an outrageous dummy that saw her go through under the posts and was duly converted by Carla Pullinger for a 12-0 lead.
Things were really clicking for the Gazelles and with Aylesford unable to mount any real defensive pressure, the hosts eventually scored their third through winger Izzi Soriano after some excellent play getting the ball through the hands.
A mistake from the restart however, gave the Bulls some much needed field position to launch an attack in the Gazelles’ half. After a succession of penalties, the Bulls got on the score sheet after a strong carry in the bottom left-hand corner.
At this point Boo Spicer, who was captain on the day, rallied her troops and the Gazelles responded with scores from Katie Davies and Izzi Soriano getting her second of the day, leaving the score 31-5 at the break.
The Bulls had a lengthy spell of possession in the second-half, although territory was hard to come by due to a stern Gazelles defence. It was evident the Gazelles game plan in the second-half was to move a strong Bulls forward pack around by utilising the team’s tactical kicking ability, complimented with some great kick chasing which continued to keep the visitors on their toes. This tactic paid dividends when a good kick for field position led to a turnover of possession deep in the Bulls half and Tugwell was at hand to capitalise on the quick ball to go over for her second.
Last week’s Hattrick Hero, Millie Davies, wasn’t going to be denied a score either and after a series of fine forward carries, the backs moved the ball wide to space and the Gazelles’ fullback showed a fine turn of pace to arc around the last Bulls defender to score in the corner.
With the Bulls tiring, coach Merlin introduced two new centres in Helen Harris and Harmony Driver and both had instant impacts. Driver put in a huge hit to regain possession for the Gazelles after the Bulls player lost the ball in contact. Then from a set piece backs move, Harris took the ball to the line and committed two defenders before unleashing the ever-dangerous Soriano who showed why she is amongst the league’s most feared wingers after a powerful finish to secure her hattrick.
This brought the total to eight tries and capped off a fine performance for the Gazelles with the final score 46-5.
With one game before the Christmas break, the Gazelles travel to Farnham in what will be a tough encounter and certainly a test of the team’s progress this season.
FOTM: Spencer Hastings
BOTM: Izzi Soriano
Player’s Player: Zoo Overton