Saints win penultimate game of the season

Sarah Bebbington

Sarah Bebbington - Credit: Archant

OA SAINTS travelled down to Richmond on a warm Sunday afternoon ready for their penultimate game of the season versus Richmond 3s.

The fixture back in October at OAs was very one sided but Richmond’s recent run of results had shown that this game was going to be a lot tougher.

With half of the OAs squad stuck in traffic, it meant an extremely short warm up with some of the players only arriving 10 minutes before kick off. The start was disjointed for both sides with both teams looking to use the width of the pitch early on resulting in quite a few handling errors. OAs almost had the first score on the board with scrum half Nicky Cameron breaking down the blind side and grounding the ball over the line only to be told that the ball had been grounded over the dead ball line in the incredibly short (and badly marked out) dead ball area.

The first score came from number 8 Sarah Bebbington, in her first game back for 5 weeks. Bebbington showed excellent footwork and strength to break through a player tackle 22m out from the Richmond line and then hand off the full back to score under the posts. The conversion was missed to leave the score 0-5 to the visitors. The second score came soon after with quick reactions by OAs fly half Emma Nichol who pounced on a poor kick, caught the ball 5m out and crashed over the line. The conversion was missed to leave the score 0-10 to OAs.

Richmond came back fighting with some strong running from their number 8 and captain who made some good runs from the back of the scrum to put the OAs defence under pressure. Richmond were unlucky not to get their own first score when their fly half chose an excellent line and cut through the OAs defence to find space in behind, only for the pass to be knocked on by their winger after an excellent team tackle by centres Jodie Rettie and Sophie Tyler. OAs used the wind well to clear their lines with excellent kicking from fly half Nichol. OAs had a couple more opportunities to put points on the board just before half time with some strong carrying from flankers Emma Cramphorn and Kate Barnes but strong Richmond defence particularly from their forwards kept OAs at bay.

OAs made a few changes at half time to bring on fresh legs and also rearrange due to a couple of injuries. Playing uphill and into the wind, OAs started the stronger side in the second half. Scrum half now fly half Cameron made an excellent break dummying the Richmond defence and carrying the ball into the opposition 22m. Wing Ally O’Donovan was on hand to take the offload and was held up just short of the line. Prop forward Hannah Heath made an excellent run up the middle and was agonisingly close to scoring her first Saints try but got hauled down and presented well so the ball could be recycled back quickly. The ball went out to wing Claire McKenna who was tackled high and OAs awarded penalty advantage for the infringement. Some quick thinking from new fly half Cameron allowed her to take a quick tap and score over the line. The conversion was missed to make the score 0-15.

Richmond kicked off again and stole the ball almost immediately to put pressure on the OAs backline. Centre Jodie Rettie was incredibly unlucky to be penalised for being offside after timing her interception perfectly for what would have been a certain score for the Saints.

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Richmond used the ball well and took advantage of the wind to put OAs under pressure with a variety of chip and grubber kicks in behind the Saints line. This resulted in Richmond’s first score of the match with an excellent break from their fly half from 15m out. The fly half dummied the Saints backline and stepped the full back to score underneath the posts. The conversion was scored to make the score 7-15.

The next score came from the OAs 10m line when after several phases under pressure, with some excellent work from forwards Scarlett Cooper Wall and Holly Watson resulted in OAs stealing the ball and using quick hands to get the ball to wing Claire McKenna who used her outstanding pace to run round the Richmond wing and run practically the whole length of the pitch to score under the posts. The conversion was scored by fly half now full back Nichol to make the score 7-22.

OAs had the final score of the match from centre turned wing Sophie Tyler who found herself with one defender to beat 60m out. She used good strength to fend off the defender and excellent pace to outsprint the cover defence to score under the posts. The conversion was scored to make the score 7-29 to the Saints.

Forward of the match – For an outstanding performance and leading by example after 5 weeks out injured, number 8 Sarah Bebbington. To mark her first game back with an excellent try and to top the try scorer’s list for the season is a credit to her hard work and dedication throughout the season. Well done!

Back of the match – 2 weeks in a row for centre turned winger Sophie Tyler. Excellent tackling and strong running always gave the Saints excellent go forward. Well done!