Match report: Gloucester-Hartpury 50-19 Exeter Chiefs Women


Caroline Moore at Kingsholm

It was not to be today as reigning champions ran in eight tries to reach 50 points in comparison to Chiefs’ 19 to claim a place in the Allianz PWR final at Sandy Park on June 22.

The first half was a tough watch for the Exeter Chiefs faithful as Gloucester-Hartpury ran in four tries while the visitors failed to score a single point.

In fact, it took less than three minutes for Gloucester-Hartpury to get on the board as they patiently racked up the phases to retain possession before fly-half Lleucu George spotted the gap she was waiting for. Full-back Emma Sing converted and the scoreboard ticked over to 7-0.

As the crowd clapped to celebrate the life of rugby league’s Rob Burrow, England scrum-half Natasha Hunt stole the ball from the back of a Chiefs scrum and the rest of the team pounced on the opportunity to send centre Hannah Jones over. Burrow would have surely approved of such tenacity from a scrum-half.

While the half-time score would suggest Gloucester-Hartpury were all over Chiefs, the visitors also had periods of lineout steals, sustained possession, repeated phases and plucky runs only for the ball to be lost at crucial moments or to be penalised by referee Harry Walbaum.

It was not until the 26th minute that Gloucester-Hartpury scored again. A penalty kicked to touch for a lineout, saw the backs and forwards combine to send the ball towards the main stand and for George to, again, find another lucrative gap.

Gloucester-Hartpury’s fourth try frustratingly came as Exeter were building momentum again. A pass bounced off prop Demi Swann and the home side grabbed the opportunity allowing winger Pip Hendy to speed down the wing for the try.

The second half ended scoreless for Chiefs with centre Gabby Cantorna also taken off the pitch with an injury.

Half-time: 26-0

The scoring habit continued for Gloucester-Hartpury early in the second half with prop Maud Muir going over from close range.

But we enough about that…we scored minutes later! A lineout throw to lock Linde van der Velden saw the Dutch captain burst through the midfield to get Chiefs and No 8 Rachel Johnson to the line. The conversion was successfully kicked by Robyn Wilkins.

The joy did not last long, however, as when a penalty did not find touch leaving Sing free to charge down the wing. The ball was passed through the hands of the backs and then the forwards with Muir passing to lock Sarah Beckett on the wing for the try. Sing then claimed one of her own as the home side closed in on 50 points.

Gloucester-Hartpury emptied their bench and their playbook with a fancy move at lineout time releasing replacement prop Sisilia Tuipulotu to charge through the Chiefs defence for their last try.

We were not done though. That’s not the Chiefs way. Niamh Orchard stormed down the middle, supported in the loose by Lizzie Hanlon. When it got to close quarters, however, it was the hand of Cli Moloney that stretched over the line.

The last score of the day went to Katie Buchanan after Orchard passed the ball to Alex Tessier who spun it out to the wing. A consolation score in the last minute, fittingly partially created and scored by Chiefs younger players.

Head coach Susie Appleby said: "Gloucester-Hartpury are a really good side. It’s not by chance that they are sitting at the top of the league; they have developed massive strength and depth. They were the better team on the day.

"The positives are that because of the rules we have been having to abide by we have brought some younger players who have been phenomenal. Katie Buchanan is one of them. Hannah Sams did really well off the bench and she’s not even a loosehead. Niamh Orchard, another one, who has just signed for a couple of years. And Naomi Brennan came on for Gabby Cantorna; it’s a big deal to come on in centre-field aged19 years old as a BUCS player. We have to look forward and say the future is really bright because these players have been exposed this season and we will gain from it next season."

Full-time: 50-19

Gloucester-Hartpury: E Sing; M Venner, H Jones (R Lund 53), T Heard, P Hendy; L George (M Hyett 63), N Hunt (B Blackburn 63); M Carson (E Perry 45), N Jones, M Muir (S Tuipulotu 59), S Beckett (C Castellucci 59), S Monaghan (K Williams 53), G Brock, B Lewis, Z Aldcroft

Tries: George (2), Jones, Hendy, Muir, Beckett, Sing, Tuipulotu

Cons: Sing (5)

Exeter Chiefs Women: A Tessier; K Buchanan, M Doidge (vc), G Cantorna (N Brennan 34), E Sinclair; R Wilkins (T Bricknell 70), B Bradley; D Swann (H Sams 72, E Tuttosi (C Moloney 53), D Menin (L Hanlon 65), L van der Velden (N Orchard 53), P Leith (c), E Jefferies (M Feaunati HT), M Allen (H Millar-Mills HT), R Johnson

Tries: Johnson, Moloney, Buchanan

Cons: Wilkins (2)

Sign up to the Chiefs Newsletter

To receive a copy of the Exeter Chiefs Newsletter, please enter your email address below. You will then receive an email to confirm that you wish to receive it. You can unsubscribe at any time simply by following the link at the bottom of the email.