North Down Ladies come close against Portadown
By Roger Corbett
North Down Ladies rugby team welcomed Portadown Bluebirds to Donaldson Park, Donaghadee for the penultimate league match of their very first season.
Once again, North Down Ladies were able to field a strong team with several substitutes waiting for their chance from the bench.
Portadown kicked off playing down the hill towards the town and the next ten minutes were exhausting with both teams not giving an inch. Resolute defence from the North Down ladies constantly repelled the Bluebirds but as is often the case, one missed tackle led to the strong Portadown second row scoring between the posts. The subsequent extras were easily added. The game restarted and it was more of the same with the Portadown Number 8 featuring strongly. From a Portadown scrum, the number 8 picked and drove towards the line but although she was stopped short, she was able to off-load to her scrum-half to score. The conversion was missed.
The North Down ladies were hurt by this score but instead of faltering, they charged up the field and pushed hard to get their first points on the board. The North Down scrum and line-out were functioning well and the backs were able to move the ball well. Colleen was having her usual strong game and charged towards the line and dived outstretched to dot down the ball. Although her team mates cheered, it was unfortunately only the 5 metre line that had been crossed! However, Colleen was not to be denied her try and shortly afterwards was able to score far out to the left which made the conversion too difficult.
Half time came and the North Down ladies would be happy to now play down the hill with the score only at 12 points to 5 in favour of the Bluebirds. North Down set about correcting the score line but the Portadown defence stood strong. After a few probing kicks from the North Down outhalf, Shel, it was a deft chip over the top that she chased down and got to the ball before the defence to score her try. Unfortunately, the difficult conversion was narrowly missed.
The North Down ladies could now feel that a victory was within their grasp but the more experienced Portadown team slowly kept the ball to creep towards the North Down line. A lovely back line move saw the Bluebirds score their third try and take the score to 17-10. The home team now pushed and pushed to try and level the game but the final whistle came too soon and the Bluebirds were victorious.
Although this was a defeat for our ladies, so many positives can be taken from this performance. The substitutes added to the strength of the team and seamlessly got up to the speed of the game, the encouragement between each other was immense and finally, it was only eight weeks ago that the North Down Ladies team took on the Portadown Bluebirds with the latter putting on quite a few points. This game illustrated the huge positive steps that the ladies have taken over a relatively short space of time and indeed, the visiting team were full of praise for the effort displayed.