The women’s rugby team were thoroughly outclassed by their counterparts, but in truth it was largely down to the exploits of Lancaster’s centre Alex Simpson, who scored seven of their ten tries.
Injured fly half Lucy Davies told Vision before the game that “man for man, York are more skilful overall, but Lancaster are more aggressive. If we can keep the high intensity and belief, we should win.”
Her prediction was wide of the mark, but York undeniably played with incredible heart. They succumbed to a stunning individual performance by Alex Simpson, the Lancaster centre who was head and shoulders above everyone on the pitch.
If she got the ball, she invariably scored, and that was demonstrated as early as the 7th minute, when she picked the ball up from the turnover, went round the outside of the flailing York defence to touch down in the corner.
That score was unconverted, but her next two tries in quick succession were both underneath the posts. Both times Simpson beat a couple of opponents, her pace and trickery just bamboozling York. The Lancaster scrum half converted both to make the score 19-0 as the first half wore on.
York then came back into the game slightly, breaking up more attacks. They had no real attacking impetus of their own with the exception of Katie Kamp, who tried her best to drive at the Lancaster defence.
Simpson however scored another try, this time intercepting the York back line as they tried to build an attack. That was converted, and straight from the restart, she collected the ball and ran through the entire York team to score yet again. With the score at 33-0, the York contingent could not believe their eyes.
The ball did not really make it into York’s 22 the entire half, and York went into the break having conceded another try, as the Lancaster prop drove over in the corner. It was unconverted, making it 38-0 to the white rose at the interval.
5 mins into the second half, there was a massive delay due to a neck injury to a Lancaster player. A helicopter came but in the end was not used, an ambulance taking her to hospital. Lancaster then scored another unconverted try on the wing, through who else but Simpson again.
York then had a spell of possession in the opposition 22, a clever little tap and go from captain and scrum half Emma Nugent. However, Lancaster’s number 7 intercepted and ran the length of the pitch to score, making it 48-0.
Lancaster scored two more tries, one via Simpson, to make it 60-0. Yet there was some valiant last ditch pressure from York in search of consolation try, and they finally found it through Emma Nugent, driving home from the scrum. It was converted, prompting wild York celebrations, to make the final score 7-60.
It was a whitewash but Davies commented that the score line did not reflect the performance, and the heart York showed was evident from start to finish against one match-winning player.
Emma Nugent said after that “the majority of us are third years and it is really good to be part of UYWRC at our last Roses. We tried our hardest despite the score line. We play as a team not as an individual.”