Strong finish not enough for North Down Ladies
By Roger Corbett
Despite a 10-27 defeat against Harlequins, the North Down Ladies continue to improve game on game
On a bitterly cold and gusty Sunday afternoon North Down hosted the Belfast Harlequins girls at Bangor rugby club. Despite the conditions, the home side started brightly and pinned Harlequins back into their own half for the first twenty minutes of the game. This pressure eventually paid off with Alex McCarthy crashing over for a well-worked try in the left corner.
At the restart, the ball was knocked on giving Quins the scrum and their first opportunity to get out of their own half. The North Down girls defended well and held Quins outside the 22 for several minutes. The visitors eventually broke loose with their full back showing tremendous pace as she rounded the wing to score just to the left of the posts. As half time approached Harlequins again broke free as their full back again used her pace to cut a line through the home sides defence and score a second try just to the right of the posts. Half time score 5 points to 10.
The start of the second half started well for the Belfast side as they retained position and worked their way up the pitch eventually encamping on the home sides try line. The pressure eventually paid off as they used the power of their forward pack to drive over for a third try. With a fourth try being scored within minutes it was looking ominous for North Down. Captain Shel Laffin pulled the girls in for a chat during a break in play. This seemed to spark a response. The home side settled down and started to play the way they had throughout the opening half. Ball retention was much improved, and they worked their way deep into Harlequins territory but just could not get within striking distance. A loose pass from North Nown was scooped up by a Quins player. Again, they broke loose with the centre being brought down just short of the try line. The ball was recycled quickly for the winger to sneak in in the left corner.
This did not dampen the spirits of the North Down girls who yet went back on the offensive. Again they worked their way into the Quins red zone and were encamped on the five-meter line for several minutes. Time and time again they battered eventually driving over. The referee adjudged the ball to be held up and awarded the attacking side a scrum. From a strong platform number 8 Colleen Hutchinson picked up and drove left scoring their second try of the day.
The game was closed out with Harlequins pummeling the North Down try line as they looked for a further score. To the credit of the home side they took everything that Quins could throw at them repelling attack after attack. The ball was finally overturned in a tackle and kicked clear down the lines into touch to close the game out at 10 points to 27.
This was by far the best performance shown by the North Down side who have been improving week on week. They now have a week off, which will give an opportunity for a few tired bodies to recover, before they travel to Lisburn in the Regenerate Shield on February 10th.