A THRILLING and hard-earned win at Reading saw Ellie Whittles lead the side to register a seventh win in nine to stay in the title hunt of South East West One. Although Portsmouth Valkyries won again to make it eight from eight at the top, GLR are in good shape to clinch second spot, now sitting just a point behind London Welsh ladies who come to Footes Lane this Sunday.
The game started with Guernsey on the attack which pinned Reading in their own 22m for long periods.
Laura Sweeney, Jessica Melville, Tanya Scholtz and Fiona Power all broke the Reading defensive line only to be stop short or held up by a tenacious Reading defence.
Returning Carly Duchemin even crossed the line but a last-ditch tackle from the Reading winger dislodged the ball.
However, Reading always look dangerous with their 10, 12 and 15 making some impressive turn-overs and kicking them time and again out of trouble.
It was to be one of these turn-overs that was to eventually lead to the first score for Reading who converted the try for a 7-0 lead.
The Guernsey front three of Andrea Harris, Michelle Schofield, Laura Sweeney and the power house second row of skipper Ellie Whittles and forward of the match Kristine Vavere placed massive pressure on the Reading pack taking several balls against the head.
This gave scrum half Lucy Pratt and full back Justeen Baker great front-foot ball to work their magic.
It was only a matter of time before the sustained pressure was going to produce a score. Jessica Melville broke from the scrum, turned, twisted and squirmed her way over the line for an unconverted try: 7-5.
Reading were not to be out done and in one of the few visits to the Guernsey half, secured a penalty to give them a 10-5 half time lead.
The start of the second half was a complete reversal of the first with Reading putting pressure on Guernsey but some excellent defence from the back line and back of the match winger Aimee Le Bachelet kept Reading out.
A change of tactics saw Guernsey revert to a power game which had served them well in the first half and again gave them a good platform for Baker to attack the Reading line and put the forwards into space to get behind the Reading defence.
Several times she put Power into space to create some excellent attacking options.
Changes in the forwards saw Asha Maddy in her first season as a prop and Minna Gallienne, who is developing into an excellent front row forward, come on to give Andrea Harris and Laura Sweeney a breather. But more importantly it shows a real depth in the squad, that saw little change in the playing style or intensity of the team.
However, Guernsey were still fiver points down and time running out.
Then, a break from Tanya Scholtz saw her go over the line, again only to be thwarted by the Reading defence.
Scholtz was not to be denied and a few minutes later she broke the Reading line again and ran half the pitch before pirouetting ‘ballerina’ style over the line to score. The try was converted by Vicki Rang and we led 10-12.
Reading again came back strong and looked to their kicking game in order to gain ground and put pressure on the Guernsey back three. However, Hollingworth in her first season at full back, read the kick and was in great position to nullify the threat.
Guernsey were certainly in the driving seat and Laura Sweeney who along with Jillian Smith had returned to front row made one of her line breaking runs only to be stopped bravely by the Reading full back. However, several plays later Sweeney popped up outside of Baker who put her into a gap and within 10m of the line. No-one would stop her this time and victory had been assured.
To travel away on the first game of 2019, with no back replacements, come from behind and take the win is testament to the Guernsey Ladies and the fact this is a squad game, and everyone has their part to play in it.
The game against London Welsh Ladies is on the main pitch this Sunday 13th January 2019, kick off at 1pm.
1. Andrea Harris 2. Michelle Schofield 3. Laura Sweeney 4. Ellie Whittles 5. Kristine Vavere 6. Tanya Scholtz 7. Fiona Power 8. Jessica Melville 9. Lucy Pratt 10. Justeen Baker 11. Aimee Le Bachelet 12. Sophie Ferbrache 13. Vicki Rang 14. Carly Duchemin 15. Lael Hollingworth.
Replacements: Minna Gallienne, Jillian Smith, Asha Holberry.