Guildford Gazelles 21, Wimbledon Ladies 5
On a scorching bank holiday Monday the Gazelles took to the Esher 1st XV pitch to defend their Surrey Cup against Wimbledon.
Having played them twice this season the Gazelles knew the dangers Wimbledon posed and also knew the game would be incredibly physical which could also have posed a few problems beings that 7 of the Guildford starting line up had played for Surrey against Sussex the previous day.
The game kicked off with Wimbledon receiving the ball, a strong defensive set meant Wimbledon gained no ground and following a mistake Guildford restarted the game with a scrum. Although under pressure all day captain and number 8 Vicky Boothman controlled the ball well unleashing the backs, a change of angle by centre Lottie Brown allowed her to scythe through the defence making her way into the 22. With Wimbledon on the back foot, Ruth Harper picked and carried finally passing to Spencer Hastings who went in under the posts for the Gazelles’ first try which was duly converted by Kate Jenkins.
As the game progressed Wimbledon grew into the game and with a great platform from their scrum they began to test the Guildford defensive line. A couple of defensive lapses allowed Wimbledon to gain ground before finally busting their way over the line to take the score to 7-5.
As the match went on it was obvious that the heat was going to be a major factor as errors inevitably crept into the game. However Guildford looked to be coping better and gradually began to turn the screw and with both possession and territory on their side the ball was worked out left where Lottie Brown found space and after dancing round 3 would-be tacklers found her way to the try line to score the Gazelles 2nd try. Unfortunately, a late challange just after she dotted the ball down forced her from the pitch while the Wimbledon players received 10 minutes in the sin bin for the late challenge.
Half time followed shortly after with the score 14-5 to Guildford. As the second half got under way the Guildford coaches began to make quick changes, using their strong bench to maintain the momentum. It’s easy for a team to lose its way with so many changes. However, the team responded well and continued to dominate. A turnover at a ruck saw the ball make its way to Player of the Match Emma Swadlo whose quick feet followed by brut strength in the tackle saw her break both the first and secondary line of defence before accelerating away to score a decisive 3rd for the Gazelles which was again converted by Jenkins.
As the game moved into the closing stages Wimbledon laid seige to the Guildford line and although Lesley Harden received a yellow card for a high tackle, Guildford refused to let them cross the whitewash and it was this resolute defence that ensured that Guildford kept a clean sheet in the second half, won the match 21-5 and retained the Surrey Ladies Cup.
It has been a fantastic season for the Gazelles with one of the greatest assets being strength in depth throughout the squad shown most readily on such a hot Surrey Finals Day.
The Gazelles now take a break from 15s and move to the shorter format of the game for the summer before pre-season training begins on 18 July.