It was a warm and sunny day when the Sirens arrived at Marlow RFC to kick off their league campaign. Marlow is perhaps one of the most picturesque grounds in the area on a warm and sunny day, with the banks of the Thames lapping gently at the edge of the 1st team pitch. It also serves a rather decent pint of Rebellion. Pretty sure it’s grim in February though.
The Sirens had the full complement of 15 players which meant we automatically gained a bonus point. The same couldn’t be said for Marlow who only had 13 players and wanted to play 12 a side. Despite the league regulations we agreed to the request.
The Marlow pitch is long and wide and a degree of worry crept into the Sirens coaching set up that the speedy Marlow 9,10,12 partnership would be able to run around our depleted defence.
The game started brightly for Marlow, but the Sirens put in hit after hit and eventually turned the ball over in their own 22, went through perhaps 20 passages of play before Rosie brook through to score just left of the posts. After a decent break to get her breath back Rosie stepped up to add the extras. The second try came in a similar manner, good handling, good support, great offloads and eventually Steph managed the “Ash Splash” (FINES next time!) Rosie again added the extras.
By this time the big Marlow pack started to take injuries, meaning at first they used their only sub, then when down to 11 players and in the 5 minutes before half time they were down to 10 players. One more player lost and the game would be conceded. Each time Marlow lost a player, we had to drop one of our own and the spaces on the pitch for their speedy half backs grew even bigger.
The half finished with Marlow and the Sirens swapping three tries apiece. Sirens scorers were Steph, Sara and Steph again. Rosie converted one, hit the bar with another and was unlucky on the third.
Half Time – Marlow 15 Sirens 31
The second half had an all together different feel to it. The wide open spaces were being exploited by Marlow, and the Sirens tackling and ball retention fell down a notch of two. Three unanswered Marlow tries and one conversion brought them a narrow lead going into the last 10 minutes. Then a further converted try extended their lead. It would have been easy for the Sirens heads to drop at this point, as they were also on the wrong end of a number of baffling decisions for the ref. But instead of buckling, they drew together and pushed for the victory. Good pressure in the loose by the forwards brought handling errors from a now nervous Marlow side. First Steph got her forth try, ably converted by Rosie the Boot. Then, in the final minutes of the match Amy broke from half way, evaded the tiring Marlow defence before touching down to the right of the post. Rosie was unlucky with the conversion, just hitting the upright.
There was time for a Marlow restart, but the Sirens held out to the final whistle for an epic 43-41 victory.
My reflections on this game are that the Sirens really stood up in this match. Uncontested scrums and reduced numbers don’t suit our style of play, but we adapted to the challenge and came away as worthy winners.