Match report: Exeter Chiefs Women 27 - Gloucester-Hartpury Women 31
Caroline Moore at Sandy Park
A cruel bounce of the ball saw Chiefs suffer this first Allianz PWR league defeat as Gloucester-Hartpury scored a try in the 74th minute to take the win at Sandy Park today.
However, the damage had already been done after Chiefs leaked 19 points in the first 30 minutes, giving the home side a hill to climb.
To be honest, they did do an impressive job of scaling the heights as they clawed back the lead, only to be undone in the final nail-biting minutes.
It was a tough first half with Gloucester-Hartpury the more dominant side, even in the first few minutes. It was like watching Chiefs Women in the wrong shirts as the visitors’ penalties were kicked to touch followed up by driving mauls. The second of these resulted in a try for hooker Kelsey Jones in just the third minute.
A big clearance kick from full-back Merryn Doidge saw Chiefs head back into Gloucester territory while a big hit from No 8 Rachel Johnson also seemed to halt the visitors’ momentum. Winger Katie Buchanan looked lively with a neat break and kick ahead but with no return.
Gloucester were putting on plenty of pressure on Chiefs, making them defend behind their five-metre line. A penalty to touch was kicked to the corner and driven over by No 8 Alex Matthews in the 14th minute and converted by full-back Emma Sing.
As the first quarter drew to a close, it looked like Chiefs were back on the scoreboard as Buchanan benefited from some great open play with winger Claudia MacDonald making some important yards. Buchanan’s try was disallowed though as the ball was not grounded, which can be hard to do when you have an opposition player around your neck!
Frustration started to creep in, and a few lost lineouts did not help Chiefs’ cause. Neither did a stunning break from Sing, who beat the Chiefs defence to send Sam Monaghan over for the try in the 31st minute. A second conversion from Sing took the score to 0-19.
As the first half started to run out of time, the home side got a lineout in the right area of the pitch and the crowd started to get involved. A quick-tap penalty saw Johnson on the charge, but she could not quite get there. Prop DaLeaka Menin stepped in to take the score to 7-19 at half-time following a conversion from Gabby Cantorna.
The second half started much more brightly following a great break from lock Linde van der Velden with support from scrum-half Brooke Bradley. MacDonald swooped in to run the ball over the line and the score deficit was down to 14-19 after 46 minutes gone.
Just four minutes later and MacDonald was back on the scoresheet sheet thanks to the safe hands of Harriet Millar-Mills at the lineout followed by some accurate passing by Kanako Kobayashi and Doidge before an ensuing maul released Alex Tessier into space to feed out to the England wing. At 19-19, Chiefs had well and truly fought their way back to all-square.
A Tessier kick to touch set up Chiefs’ bonus point try with hooker Emily Tuttosi the scorer following the lineout on Gloucester’s five-metre line.
With 20 minutes to go, Chiefs seemed to have the upper hand but Gloucester’s No 8 Matthews had been useful all afternoon and she cemented her usefulness with the visitors' fourth try. After 65 minutes, the score was a nail-biting 24-26.
The nail-biting did not stop there though as Chiefs pulled ahead with a penalty in the 73rd minute. There was one point in it for exactly one minute until a nasty bounce saw the ball fall into winger Mia Venner’s hands and she ran down the wing for the try and a final score of 27-31.
Exeter Chiefs Women: M Doidge (vc); C MacDonald (L Cramer 72mins), K Kobayashi, G Cantorna, K Buchanan; A Tessier, B Bradley; D Swann, E Tuttosi, D Menin (L Hanlon 66mins), L van der Velden (N Fryday 66mins), P Leitch (c), E Jefferies (H Millar-Mills 45mins), M Allen (E McMahon 45mins), R Johnson.
Reps not used: D French, A Middlebrooke, M McDonald
Tries: Menin, MacDonald (2), Tuttosi
Cons: Cantorna (3)
Gloucester-Hartpury Women: E Sing: L Meumann 45mins); M Venner, R Lund, T Heard, K Taylor; L George, N Hunt (c); M Carson, K Jones (N Jones 49mins), L Delgado (S Tuipulotu 49mins), S Beckett, S Monaghan, C Castellucci, B Lewis, A Matthews
Reps not used: E Perry, S Elde, K Williams, B Blackburn, L Goulden
Tries: K Jones, Matthews (2), Monaghan, Venner
Cons: Sing (2), George
Referee: H Grant