Exeter Chiefs Women 7 Army Women 27
Exeter Chiefs Women 7
British Army Women 27
Mike Smith at Sandy Park
In what will go down as a momentous day in the history of Exeter Rugby Club, the newly-formed Chiefs Women’s side weren’t quite able to overcome the power of the British Army Women.
Fresh from victory in their inaugural outing against Newcastle Falcons, Susie Appleby’s side were unable to crown their debut at Sandy Park with a similar outcome, eventually going down 27-7 to the visiting servicewomen.
In a commanding start to the game, however, the Chiefs came out of the blocks fast and after a dominant opening spell, they took the lead when quick-thinking from fly-half Hannah Gascoigne saw her drive over for the game’s opening try, which was converted by Mollie Pepper.
Buoyed by the early score, the Chiefs continued to boss proceedings with some determined attacking play. Sadly, they could not turn their pressure into points as the Army held firm under heavy attack.
And having withheld the threat of the home side, the Army went down the other end of the field where, following their own period of pressure, they reduced the deficit when centre Gemma Pearson was driven over from close range.
The score clearly ignited the Army’s charge and as they threatened again, the visitors cleverly worked the ball out wide to send flanker Chantelle Miller over for their second score.
Under the cosh as the half ticked towards the interval, the Chiefs appeared to have withheld more heavy bombardment from the Army, who were looking to extending their lead. However, with a minute remaining in the half, the visitors made the most of turnover ball to work the opening for Gemma Rowland, whose converted score gave them a 10-point lead at the turn.
HALF TIME EXETER CHIEFS WOMEN 7 ARMY WOMEN 17
With both sides introducing fresh faces for the second half, it was the Army who offered the greater threat during the opening exchanges. To their credit, the Chiefs – led superbly by skipper Jo McBain – dug deep into their defensive reserves, putting together a series of sets to keep their rivals at bay.
Army pressure, though, was mounting by the minute and eventually it told on the Chiefs, who eventually conceded a fourth try when openside Bethan Dainton was able to finish off a slick handling move.
At the other end, the Chiefs looked to claw back the points difference, but either solid defence from the Army or a failure to hang on to the ball, thwarted any real hopes the hosts had of adding to their tally.
As it was, the Army wrapped up the match in the final minute when fly-half Jade Mullen landed a straight-forward penalty.
Chiefs Women: C McNaney; P Toresater, G MacKinder, M Pepper, G Gower; H Gascoigne, S Mazzone; M Roberts, C Budge, H Duffy; R Moynihan, K Armstrong; E Jefferies, M Lynch-Barsby, J McBain (capt).
Replacements Used: L Peak, L Hanlon, I Masi, S Hobday, L Hill, N Terry, E Longworth.
Try – Gascoigne; Conversion – Pepper
Army Women: R Deane; A Palmer, G Pearson, G Rowland, J McAuley; J Mullen, B Gilbert; B Wilson, A Whitecross, F Athawes; C Snead, E Mills; C Miller, B Dainton, C Smith.
Replacements Used: C Shaw, N Lewis, S Mimnagh, R Metters, C Broome, E White, K Price, T Gilmartin, T Lloyd
Tries - Pearson, Miller, Rowland, Dainton; Conversions - Mullen (2); Penalty - Mullen