Birmingham’s Women’s 1st XV had the honour of being the first team to play on the sparkling new 3G pitch at Bournbrook, and responded by grabbing their first win of the young season with 22-7 against Newcastle.
Newcastle opened the game with the aggression of a team reeling from a 72-point drubbing at the hands of the league leaders, Edinburgh, the previous week. The Lionesses’ line was assailed from the off, but the defense of the 22 held firm. At the peak of the pressure applied by Newcastle, the forwards stole the ball from the base of the ruck. Finding Maisie Mackensie on the wing, the number 12 shrugged off defenders with nonchalance and sprinted three quarters of the length of the pitch to score an inspired solo try.
Following the score, a period of stale mate centered around the halfway line considerably slowed the game down. Sadly, after a collapsed scrum, an injury time out for Birmingham saw the game paused for 20 minutes.
The Lionesses showed impressive resilience to find their rhythm again after the potentially destabilising injury break. Birmingham’s backs continually found space on the fringes to exploit the Newcastle defense, and after impressive ball movement across the line, the Lionesses found themselves within five meters of the Newcastle line. The ball once again found its way to Maisie Mackensie who threw a mean-spirited hand-off and touched down over the line. Birmingham entered half time up 12-0.
Birmingham came out of half time with an invigorated pace. Again, the depth of the running lines and crisp passing from the backs found gaping pockets of space in the visitor’s defense. Birmingham found themselves encamped in the opposition 22 and burly picking and going from the rucks saw a combined forwards effort result in a third try.
Buoyed from their advances, the Lionesses’ energy was evident in their expansive play. Again, finding themselves deep in Newcastle territory, number 15 Rebecca Herring hit a blind line from the back of a ruck and crashed over the white line to make the score 22-0.
Newcastle showed their pride and began to play with more directness while a confident Birmingham defense perhaps took their foot off the gas a touch. A bruising run from their number 4 tore a hole in a fatigued defense in the final five minutes, and Newcastle added a conciliatory 7 points.
As evidenced by the exuberant celebrations post game, this win was key for Birmingham. This victory should keep them afloat and competitive in a grueling premier north division, and the team’s staunch defense hints at more success to come.