Chiefs Women 19 Warriors Women 7
Exeter Chiefs Women 19
Worcester Warriors Women 7
Harry Scott-Munro at Sandy Park
Susie Appleby insisted the break would do her side the world of good – and so it proved as the Exeter Chiefs Women secured their first-ever win in the Allianz Premier 15s with victory over visiting Worcester Warriors Women.
With the women’s top flight having taken a brief respite for the culmination of the 2020 Six Nations Championship last weekend, the Chiefs roared back into action at Sandy Park, securing success thanks to tries from Lottie Holland, Emily Tuttosi and Laura Delgado, plus two conversions from Gabby Cantorna.
In reply, Worcester counted with a converted first half try from Vicky Foxwell, but that was their scant reward on a day when the Chiefs prospered in both defence and attack.
The early exchanges saw both sides trying to find their feet – and it was obvious from the outset that Appleby’s side wanted to play a fast attacking game. It caused initial problems for the visitors, with both skipper Linde Van der Velden and Olivia De Merchant profiting from taking the ball with the Warriors defence in retreat. However, it also left Chiefs susceptible to the intercept, Jade Shekells nearly profiting in the third minute.
A major positive of the performance was the strength of the Chiefs set-piece, Tuttosi and Poppy Leitch organising a high-quality line-out operation for the hosts. However, it was the visitors who would open the scoring, Foxwell converting her own score on 14 minutes.
With the Chiefs patiently building phases just inside the Worcester half, the backline played one flat pass too many, Foxwell intercepting and just having the legs to beat the chase of Exeter full-back Merryn Doidge for the score.
The Chiefs response was immediate though, as Worcester’s ill-discipline gifted the hosts with a perfect attacking platform. The superb Cantorna found touch five metres from the Warriors line, before the forwards lined up to take turns at barrelling their way over. In the end though, the necessary guile was found through winger Holland, who picked a perfect line off Patricia Garcia to dive in under the posts. Cantorna’s conversion levelled the scores at seven-apiece.
On 24 minutes, Worcester looked to attack the Chiefs line again, Shekells again going close after a strong carry. The Chiefs defence was immense throughout this contest, with scrum-half Garcia securing a pressure-relieving penalty for her side, before forcing a knock-on in midfield from Paige Farries moments later to well and truly put Chiefs back in the territorial ascendancy.
With little over five minutes left of the half, the lightning quick feet of Garnet Mackinder almost gifted Chiefs another scoring opportunity. The winger superbly spotted a mismatch out wide, stepping the defender and racing into the 22, only for a knock-on a phase later to stunt the attack.
The Chiefs, though, continued to pile forward and with time ticking away at the end of the first half, England international Lydia Thompson was adjudged to have taken Garcia out in the air as both players competed for the ball. Sadly, that was to be Thompson’s last act of the match, leaving the field after picking up an injury to her hand.
From the resulting penalty, Cantorna put Chiefs in a prime attacking position, before the pack did the rest, Canadian hooker Tuttosi crashing over from the back of a maul with the last play of the half.
HALF TIME EXETER CHIEFS 12 WORCESTER WARRIORS 7
The second half began much as the first finished as the Chiefs continued to show their attacking prowess. After regaining possession from the kick-off, the ball found its way to Mackinder, who again was able to make an impressive break into the Warriors 22.
In previous matches, Exeter’s over eagerness in search of a try has sometimes let them down, but there were no such difficulties here though, as they patiently went through the phases before Spaniard Delgado bundled her way over from close range, much to the delight of the supporting coaches and players.
Cantorna’s successful conversion from a challenging angle opened up a 19-7 advantage, leaving theChiefs well and truly in the ascendency.
The rush defence employed by Chiefs continued to frustrate the Warriors attack, centre Cantorna and flanker Kate Zackary leading the charge with several brilliant reads to scythe down their opposite numbers well behind the gainline.
Cantorna’s ferocious defensive effort typified a brilliant individual performance as she continually hampered multiple Warriors attacking opportunities. Their frustrations came to a head on 55 minutes as both sets of players chose to get further acquainted with each other before the referee stepped in.
Entering into the final ten minutes, the Chiefs twice went close with a series of attacking raids, but the Worcester’s defence held firm to secure a turnover.
The visitors then looked to turn defence into attack, propelling themselves back down the other end of the field, before a timely intervention from Leitch secured a crucial turnover for the Chiefs.
From there, the Chiefs were able to control the final moments of the game, soaking up the pressure, before Ffion Lewis had the honour of booting the ball into touch to secure a landmark first victory.
Chiefs: M Doidge; L Holland, L Cattell, G Cantorna (F Robinson 62,) G Mackinder; T Black, P Garcia (F Lewis 60); O De Merchant (M Roberts 48), E Tuttosi, L Delgado; P Leitch, M Hunt, E Jefferies (A Fleming 41,) K Zackary, L Van der Velden (capt)
Tries – Holland, Tuttosi, Delgado; Conversions – Cantorna (2)
Warriors: A Kershaw; L Thompson (V Laflin 34) V Foxwell, J Shekells (M Varley 60), P Farries; R Wilkins, C Mattinson; F Long (E Febrey 55), C Phillips (C Tremelling 60) L Keates (capt); A Matthews, A Buckland Hurry (E Shermer 35); T Bricknell, A Callender, S Harries (P Rawbone 62)
Try – Foxwell; Conversion - Foxwell