THE final scoreline somewhat flattered Cullompton, but in our penultimate Championship Two South West game of a tough campaign, we were clearly second best.
That said, Chris Griffiths’ side which lacked regular skipper Jemma Crouse and several other first-choice picks, started the game really brightly and despite the very muddy conditions asserted themselves in the scrums in particular.
Much of the first 20 minutes was an out and out battle in the middle third of the pitch until Cullompton finally started to make their offloading game count and after some good play managed to score the first blow with an unconverted try in the corner.
The score remained 5-0 until the 35th minute when the home side’s very useful and rangy fullback came into the line from a good backs move and outpaced the covering tacklers to score in the left corner and a third try arrived before the break after a good break in midfield and some great support work.
Guernsey made a few changes in personnel at half time and tried to use the wind advantage to kick themselves down into their 22.
Our line outs were working pretty well and had had some successful catch and drives so it wasn’t a bad tactic but their fullback seemed to be everywhere and it was difficult to gain too much territorial advantage.
Still, much of the game was being played in the middle third of the pitch which was by now cutting up pretty badly. Crucially, Cullompton used their powerful and fast back rowers then stepped things up and started to punch holes which eventually resulted in two more tries for a 27-0 lead with five minutes left.
A possible ‘tip tackle’ on Janelly Le Maitre went unpunished and resulted in Le Maitre needing to be replaced due to a shoulder injury. The incident galvanised the visitors who with some good play created a golden opportunity to finally score with two minutes left on the clock.
Sadly, the chance went begging as Tanya Scholtz, who perhaps should have just gone for the try line herself from three metres out, threw a poor pass to an unmarked Chloe Williams on the wing which was eventually picked up by Cullompton who shortly after scored once more to rub it in.
‘I think in those final moments where we could have made the scoreline 27-7, it would have been a slightly fairer scoreline and reflection of the game, but there was no doubt that Cullompton deserved the win,’ said Griffiths.
‘They play a very physical game and have some big players but I was very proud of how for most of the game we kept them at bay, ultimately it was their power and offloading game that just became impossible to defend, their support play and decision making was very impressive too and their aggression in defence made it very hard for us to break their line, so all credit to them,’ he added.
‘We did enjoy some success in the scrum particularly in the first 40 minutes and our line outs went much better than last time out and defensively we are still improving with each game. I thought Vicki Rang did a great job of stepping in to both the captaincy and scrum half role in Jemma’s absence and there were some really good performances from a lot of players with Fiona Ashworth in particular in outstanding form, especially in defence where she just seemed to be everywhere.’
The Guernsey Raiders Ladies are back in action against Drybrook this Saturday at 1pm on the Guernsey Raiders Club Pitch at Footes Lane, followed by a friendly against Barnes on the 24th March.