Owls back to winning ways
By Simon Woodley
After back to back defeats to Canterbury before the Christmas break Harwich Owls had to get back to winning ways and a road trip to face Ashford Ladies started their 2019 fixtures.
When the two sides faced off earlier in the season at Low Road it was a very even contest with The Owls running out 15-5 winners, the return encounter proved to be just as closely fought.
The Owls kicked off and stayed camped inside the Ashford half for the first 30 minutes of the match.
Despite all the possession Harwich could not get any reward, with impressive Ashford defending, silly mistakes and a couple of missed opportunities when Ashford had been caught defending too narrow and the final pass to the wing went begging.
Eventually the deadlock was broken when centre Hannah Dobner burst through a tackle and dived for the line to score, the conversion attempt missed to put The Owls up 0-5.
Ashford made it into The Harwich half with a great clearing kick and the chase resulted in a knock on and a Harwich scrum on their own 5m line, the scrum was turned over and the speed of the Ashford attack proved too much for the narrow Owl defence as they moved the ball quickly to full back Jules Teague to round the last defender and score, she missed her own conversion attempt and the half ended all square 5-5.
The second half was much more of an open affair with both sides making breaks into opposition territory only to be thwarted by good tackling and great discipline on defence.
Ashford took the lead when a Harwich attack broke down deep in the Ashford half, fullback Jules Teague kicked to clear her line and a great covering chase saw them recover the ball, after a couple of quick phases The Owls failed to close down the speedy Teague who broke free of the last defender to score her second try, again she could not convert her try but the home side had the advantage 10-5.
Harwich picked their game up, fly half Becki Hare who had an outstanding match really started to use all her weapons including the big guns up front in Di Wood, Tasha Bray and Sian Smith all of which made an impact with their strong running.
The Harwich forwards really stepped up and were putting Ashford under huge pressure at scrum and line outs.
From an Ashford scrum, hooker Emma Simons, managed to turn possession over and a quick break by scrum half Holly Cuozzo found Becki Hare on a crash ball and she hit the defence at speed carrying would be tacklers across the try line, the conversion missed but the score was level at 10-10 with 10 minutes to play.
With both sides tiring it would be one score either way that would decide the outcome, luckily for The Owls it would be for them.
With Ashford pushed deep inside their half Harwich kept applying pressure which resulted in numerous penalties, from 10m out number 8 Abi Cutts took a quick tap which caught Ashford napping and with Sophia Tricker giving her a shove they split two defenders to score the winning try, the conversion missed but the 10-15 lead was enough to seal the victory.
With time running down Owls captain Sophia Tricker was sin binned for a high tackle on Ashford’s Megan West, West also received a yellow card for retaliation and both players were off the field when the final whistle sounded in what was a great game with two well matched sides.
Report by Tim Flatt