Battling victory over Hove shows that defence is just as good as attack for OA Saints
PUBLISHED: 14:29 16 December 2019 | UPDATED: 14:29 16 December 2019
A 12-7 victory for OA Saints against Hove tells only half the story – because this was the best defensive display you will have seen from any rugby team in the last few years.
The success at Woollams means Saints end a wonderful 2019 lying third in the Women's Championship South One table, three points behind second placed Thurrock and a further two adrift of leaders Blackheath after winning eight of their 11 league games.
All the scores came in the opening 20 minutes, Chloe Allcorn and Siobhan Drummond scoring for Saints, with Claire McKenna adding one conversion, that cancelled out an early intercept try for the visitors.
But from there Hove started to bang loudly on the OAs door with wave after wave of attack.
However, all floundered against the navy blue wall to the delight of Saints' head coach, England and Saracens star Sarah McKenna.
She said: "Defence was a massive focus for us in the week. We knew that Hove had a big pack and would be physical so we looked a getting low and putting the double hits in.
"And it's really important for the girls to have that feather in their cap because we're known as an attacking-based team.
"So to be feared in defence as well will put us in really good stead for the future."
The second-half was full of almost incessant pressure from the Sussex outfit who used their big runners time and time again in an attempt to punch their way through.
And yet despite the high possession and territory stats, there was never really a moment when you felt the dam would break.
McKenna though would prefer they didn't have to showcase their defensive talents.
She said: "The girls do well at not panicking and they do know their strengths but they also have to be aware that we don't have all the time in the world to play with and we have to get out of our own area.
"We fell short a few times on our exit strategies and perhaps we weren't firing as well as we could have there but a kick by Caz Collie in the last five minutes was exactly what we need to do.
"We made a 75-metre gain off that and that will be something we will look to use going forward.
"When we're on the front foot we are dangerous but it doesn't suit us to be behind our own 22 for that long."