Match Report: Exeter Chiefs Women 43 – 7 Loughborough Lightning

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It was a successful afternoon for Susie Appleby’s Chiefs Women as they secured a bonus-point win against Loughborough Lightning at Sandy Park.

A standout day from the pack alongside pace and precision from the backs helped Chiefs score seven tries to Lightning’s one.

Good pressure from Chiefs in the Lightning half set the standard early on as the Loughborough side looked rattled, forced to scramble their defence on a number of occasions.

The threat of Chiefs interrupted the Lightning lineout as the throw went over the top, dropping into the waiting arms of DaLeaka Menin. Having got Chiefs into the 22, it was rather apt that Menin was to be the try scorer. Receiving ball 10 metres out from the line, the tighthead prop charged in for the opening score which Gabby Cantorna then converted.

Lightning replied minutes later. A fumble at the set piece from Chiefs allowed Lightning to launch their attack through Emily Scarratt. Going to a pick and go game on the edge of the Exeter line, it was captain Rachel Malcolm who eventually went over for the score with Helena Rowland nailing the tough conversion from the touchline.

Using the force of their pack, Chiefs were originally held at bay by the Lightning defence of their driving maul in the lead up to their second score. However, the women moved the ball across the width of the field with quick phases to send Kanako Kobayashi over in the corner.

The third try of the day was an easier one for the dominant pack. Receiving a penalty in front of the posts, Hope Rogers took ball in hand for the quick tap to go crashing over underneath the sticks. Cantorna then secured the straight forward conversion to take the Chiefs 19-7 ahead.

Vital work defending the breakdown from the likes of Maisy Allen and Rachel Johnson ensured Lightning were not able to have the last say in the first half as Chiefs ran into the changing rooms with the lead.

Half-time: Chiefs Women 19 – 7 Lightning

After a relatively quiet first 10 minutes of the second half, great footwork from Eilidh Sinclair got the Chiefs into the Lightning half to launch their latest try-scoring attack.

Precision and power at the driving maul from the lineout got Chiefs to within a metre. Originally, they went with the tight phases on the line before a wide pass gave Kobayashi her second try of the day.

It was storybook stuff for Nichola Fryday as she scored Chiefs’ fifth of the day. On her 50th appearance as a Chief, the second rower took the pop pass off a huge scrum to cross the whitewash for the try which Cantorna added the extras to.

The Chiefs replacements combined for another try minutes later. Harriet Millar-Mills worked hard to keep her feet in contact and break out of the tackle, allowing ball to be used to find Cliodhna Moloney who crashed over for the score. Cantorna’s conversion brought the score to 38-7 in Chiefs’ favour.

Appleby’s side weren’t finished, however, and with just four minutes left in the encounter, they broke the 40-point barrier. A massively dominant maul from the forwards allowed Chiefs to draw in the Lightning defence, opening the opportunity to whip ball out to the wing for Kobayashi to score her hatrick.

Following a tough trip to Gloucester-Hartpury last weekend, this was the bounce-back performance Chiefs needed in order to refocus and push-on into a prolonged period of time without a game as the women’s international window opens.

Full-time: Chiefs Women 43 – 7 Lightning

Chiefs Women: A Tessier; E Sinclair, M Doidge, G Cantorna, K Buchanan (Kobayashi 14’); R Wilkins, B Bradley (Ortiz 69’); H Rogers (Swann 69’), E Tuttosi (Moloney 57’), D Menin (Hanlon 57’), N Fryday (Millar-Mills 63’), P Leitch, E Jefferies (McMahon 57’), M Allen (Bricknell 69’), R Johnson.

Tries: Menin, Kobayashi 3, Rogers, Fryday, Moloney Conversions: Cantorna 4

Loughborough Lightning: H Nelson; E Scantlebury, B Mataitoga (Morrall 47’), E Scarratt (Williams-Morris 69’), B Westcombe-Evans; H Rowland, L Weaver (Weaver 69’); K Trevarthen (Wells 57’), K Treder (Waudby 40’), C Belisle (Williams 63’), A Duguid, L Ives Campion (Taufoou 57’), R Malcolm (Svoboda 69’), S Kabeya, D Hibbert-Jones.

Tries: Malcolm Conversions: Rowland

Referee: Richard Gordon

Attendance: 1,884

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