Kesteven ladies play their first match
The latest incarnation of Kesteven RFC’s Black Army took the field for the first time last Sunday when Kesteven ladies played Sleaford ladies.
The side contained a mother and daughter, three sisters, one player who was celebrating her 40th birthday and a total of 12 mothers of Kesteven junior or mini rugby players – all of whom were playing their first ever game of rugby.
Ages ranges from 18 to 46 ensured that the team had both youth and experience in terms of age but having only been formed just before Christmas, the team were always going to find Sleaford difficult opponents as the local rivals have two full seasons of league rugby under their belts.
In front of huge crowd of nearly 300 eager spectators, the teams paused to pay respects to ex-president Derrick Smith who sadly passed away this week.
The opening kick was gathered by Sleaford who wasted no time in exerting their experience and forged an attack resulting in an opening try for the visitors.
The opening quarter was brought to life by a solid Kesteven scrum which allowed Kerri Arlando to break quickly down the blind side with nearly three quarters of the pitch ahead of her. Having avoided desperate Sleaford tackles, she was finally brought down deep in the opposition half before popping a lovely pass to supporting winger Rhia McBride who sprinted clear of the defence for an outstanding try.
Kesteven forwards had a difficult task on their hands containing the Sleaford pack who made the most of their experience. Kesteven forwards Sarah-Jane Goss and Jade Sheardown battled hard to carry the match to the visitors who secured a second score before the break, despite hard tackling from centres Catherine Dickinson and Millie Pardoe.
The second period saw a complete change of personnel with the other half of the squad joining the action. Rather than diminish Sleaford’s smaller squad, it appeared to encourage them and they upped their tempo only to be repelled by big hits and massive resistance from the home side, with Lauren Singer and Natasha Williams battling hard in the forwards and wingers Jo Mortimer and Ruth Griffiths making some wondrous tackles.
Sleaford maintained their pressure throughout the game and, despite some sterling work in defence, proved to have a little more pace out wide, cantering to a well-deserved victory on the day. Experience counts for a lot at rugby and this told in the final score of 42-5.
The final whistle saw both teams collapse in a heap of exhaustion and sporting appreciation of each other. The smiles, laughter and camaraderie at the end was a joy to behold with both teams socialising and celebrating; one team for a fine win, the other competing well in their first ever game.
Referee and RFU Rugby development officer Nathan Smith said: "After nearly 14 years with the RFU, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so proud of a day's work."
Kesteven ladies train at Woodnook on Monday nights (7pm till 8.15pm) and welcome anyone who wants to have a go at a new sport. Age or experience are irrelevant.