The Birmingham Women’s Rugby overcame a strong Cardiff Metropolitan side in an enthralling encounter on the Bournbrook on Wednesday afternoon. Despite not being at their best for much of the match, Birmingham showed composure under pressure to see off their spirited opponents. Birmingham were behind for long periods but an excellent last fifteen minutes mean they now move onto the Semi Finals of the competition as they look to complete the league and cup double.
It was Cardiff who dominated the early exchanges as Birmingham struggled to find any real foothold in the game. Cardiff using their ball carriers in the forwards to dominate possession and territory. However it was Birmingham who struck first thanks to a piece of brilliance from Heather Cowell. The full-back who has had a standout season for Birmingham, once again proved her credentials as one of the best in the business with a stunning run from within her own 22 to score under the posts that gave Birmingham the vital early score. The conversion was missed meaning the score stood at 5-0.
The score did not reflect how much of the early preceding’s had panned out and Cardiff finally scored a deserved try not long after falling behind in the match. Their forward power proving too strong as a series of pick and go’s from the back of the ruck eventually resulting in a try under the posts themselves. Cardiff also crucially added the conversion to take a much deserved 7-5 lead at half time.
Birmingham would have known they needed to improve in the second half and the intensity they showed not long after the interval showed they were not willing to give up this quarter final tie without a fight. Chrissie Hanson almost put Birmingham back in front but knocked on as she attempted to ground the wall over the try line. Though it was not long before Birmingham’s second half pressure finally told. A lineout in the Cardiff 22 was worked perfectly through the back before substitute winger Ellie Buck, who was particularly impressive when she came on, went over in the corner to give Birmingham the lead again.
A score of 10-7 was by no means comfortable for Birmingham and Cardiff who had not seen much of the ball since half time, seemed to be galvanised by falling behind. Despite some heroic defence from Birmingham, who were tested unlike anything else they have experienced this season, Cardiff eventually re-took the lead with a try in the corner. There was a hint of a knock in the process of the try but however the referee, who had made some controversial calls throughout the game, awarded the try and Birmingham were once again behind. Crucially the conversion was missed but Cardiff led 12-10.
After Cardiff had gone ahead once again, there was every chance Birmingham would lose their unbeaten record this season. However what we saw in the final fifteen minutes was grit and determination that this Birmingham side is all about. Firstly Vice-captain Stephanie Smith went over from short range after another scintillating run from Ellie Buck to give Birmingham the lead again, much to the delight of the crowd that had gathered in attendance. Before two further tries were added, that once again came about to due to the attacking prowess of the Birmingham back line, to put the gloss on a fine second half performance from Birmingham, who will be relieved to progress in a game that was tight for long periods.
Birmingham now move onto the Semi-Finals, with tie against either Cardiff or Hartpury to come, and with every chance to now win the cup and complete an unbeaten season.