Women’s South West South 2 (1)
Topsham 51, Chard 15

CHARD Ladies travelled to league leaders Topsham on Sunday, well aware that the home side would be looking to beat the team who ended their 100 per cent record with a 36-36 draw last month, writes Dave Webb.

From the kick-off, the home backs took the initiative, moving the ball along the line to the left and then switching to create an overlap on the right, Emily Owen going over and Ann Webb converting.

An almost identical move followed, another overlap created and Laura Harris scoring; with the conversion it was 14-0 after just five minutes.

The one area that Chard dominated was the scrum, securing all their own ball and winning at least two against the head.

But despite heroic defence from Amelia Gilbert, Laura Jenkins and their team-mates, Topsham’s pace and control of ball saw tries coming at regular intervals, showing why they are top of the league.

With 30 minutes played, the hosts had scored a further five tries, through Chelsea Howard, Rebecca Partridge (2), Harris and Webb, and they led 41-0.

Chard had shown only glimpses of their powerful drives so prevalent in their previous encounter, but on the stroke of half time Sarah Kneeshaw, Zoe Winlow and Elaine Stanier made ground, and Jenkins forced her way over to register the visitors’ first points.

The second half was a completely different affair to the first, with Chard’s team spirit and determination coming to the fore.

The half began with centre Partridge scoring to complete her hat-trick, but the expected rout did not follow.

With their backs to the wall, Chard began to play to their strengths, attacking through the middle and holding their lines of defence to put pressure on their opponents.

Gilbert showed increasing maturity at scrum-half, while Sarah Jones, Suzannah Wilton and Emma Harris shone.

Chard’s power play began to show dividends as penalties were conceded at regular intervals, and after a series of drives from Jenkins, Harris deservedly scored after crashing through from 10 metres out.

The second half continued to be an even contest, with both sides tackling hard and forcing errors.

With just over 10 minutes to go, home prop Meg Coombes crashed through, but Chard had the last word, as Kneeshaw drove over the line in the right-hand corner to make the final score 51-15.

Chard: Hannah Rose-Franks, Suzannah Wilton, Emma Harris, Lorna Boobyer, Sarah Jones, Kirsty Su, Laura Jenkins, Elaine Stanier, Amelia Gilbert, Natalia-mia Roache, Liz George, Sarah Kneeshaw, Zoe Artemise Winlow, Georgia Adams, Kerry Harris. Replacement: Marie Lawrence.

Back of the match: Amelia Gilbert; forward of the match: Emma Harris; player of the match: Laura Jenkins