Gwalia Lightning v Edinburgh Rugby

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Celtic Challenge – Round Four
Cardiff Arms Park, Third v Fourth

A thoroughly exciting game, possibly the best of the series so far.

After a kick-tennis start, the game really warmed up. Gwalia were held on the line, then Jenny De Vera made a thrilling break through midfield and found an off-load. Lightning repossessed and flung the ball wide – but oh dear! – the scoring pass finished in touch. Chance gone.

At last Edinburgh managed a turnover and Caity Mattinson sent the ball down into foreign territory, where, if there had been blades of grass, they would have been trodden down for the first time.

Both sides were looking to play a rapid game, Mattinson twice taking a tap and go, but not from the correct spot on one occasion. Sian Jones was equally proactive.

The Scots had their first big chance at a 5-metre line-out, but once again the throw was crook. How many practice arrows do hookers launch every day?

A second effort worked perfectly. The pack rumbled ahead till they gained a penalty, but the ball was thrown wide for Ciaron Bell to win a foot-race to the line. But, and it’s a big but, evidence was provided that she was held up by Rhodd Parry. No try!

Yet another penalty back on the original side worked perfectly. A well controlled drive saw Millie Whitehouse claim the opening points. 0-5

Both sides went on playing positive rugby; one marked feature was the strength of Lisa Thomson’s kicking; it kept pinning the Welsh back in their half.

Edinburgh were dominating possession now, off-loading at will and recycling at speed. The outcome was a break to the line, but – alas! – Thomson spilled the ball.

More delightful combinations brought Bell her second try on the left. The passes alternated long and short, deep and shallow, so defences were unsure who and where to mark. 0-10

Two faulty kicks by Mattinson brought the Welsh back into the game. The first went straight out; the second into the arms of Robyn Wilkins who produced a splendid 50/22. Gwalia developed the position well, big drives, then quick hands to the left. But once more the final pass was thrown into touch. No need to show coaches tearing their hair out.

The misery didn’t last long. Sian Jones bundled her way over the line to start cutting that lead back. 7-10
Just before half-time another failed line-out brought a setback for the Welsh. The last thrust for the line was made by Poppy Fletcher.

Half-time: 7-15

It was vital for Gwalia to sort the scoreboard out. They did so with a vengeance, though it took them another twenty minutes. They posted two tries in quick time to take the lead. They were denied first by a turnover roughly a metre from the Scottish line, but then Jones, very much a driving force behind Lightning’s endeavours, squirmed her way over the line for her second. 12-15

Hardly two minutes later Katie Thicker somehow found her way past a string of defenders on the right touch-line to run clear and rouse the home crowd to more cheers. Once again the conversion was missed. 19-15

For the first time the team in blue was in the lead. Could they hold on? There was a full 15 minutes left to decide the issue.

A penalty decision against Lightning assured their fate. Thomson launched a fine kick into the left corner. The throw was not taken cleanly, but the Scottish forwards kept possession and drove to the line. They had to be patient as the defences were strong, but when Panashe Muzambe grabbed the ball, she burrowed underneath to score near the left edge. Another missed conversion meant the slenderest of leads, but Gwalia couldn’t turn the tide.

Edinburgh were canny in the way they kept possession offering next to no chances for Gwalia to turn the ball over. They advanced firmly down the field till the call came ‘Time’s up’, and appropriately it was Thomson, named Player of the Match, who cleared the ball into the stand. She might have preferred to be in Perth, claiming a bronze medal for GB, but she performed admirably here.

Result: Gwalia Lightning 19 Edinburgh Rugby 20

Both sides won a bonus point


Gwalia Lightning: R Parry, C Lewis, J De Vera, R De Filippo, K Davies, R Wilkins, S Jones, A
Constable, M Reardon, J Scoble, P Jones, B King (captain), M Davies, L Issac, T Evans

Bench: S Waugh, D Dinapoli, L Williams, E Jones, S Mead, K Deeks, R Thomas Evans, K Thicker

Edinburgh Rugby: N Marlow, N Flynn, E Orr, L Thomson, C Bell, S Denholm (captain), C
Mattinson, P Fletcher, M Whitehouse, M Poolman, A Ferrie, N Logan, M Gunderson, A Stewart, F

Bench: A Ronald, P Muzambe, K Lindsay, S Murphy, G Bell, L Brebner-Holden, B McNamara, H

Referee: Amber Stamp (WRU)
ARs: Richard Jones (WRU) & Damien Osbourne (WRU)
with thanks to

The win takes Edinburgh into second place. Their pace and cohesion were a lesson to their city neighbours Glasgow yesterday.

The last of the regular rounds takes place next weekend. The slim-line table looks like this:

Wolfhounds 19 Points
Edinburgh R 15
Clovers 14
Gwalia L 11
Brython T 1
Glasgow W 0

So Ireland lie 1st and 3rd; Scotland 2nd and 6th; Wales 4th and 5th.

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