Photos: Philip Mourdjis
UYWRUFC 1sts capped off a memorable season by seeing off the threat of Lancaster to win by a comfortable 20-5 margin in their Roses clash at the stadium. Mollie Staples scored a try in each half in a hard-hitting performance, which means York ended their excellent season unbeaten. The game was often a lot closer than the scoreline suggested, but York took their chances, whereas the hosts did not.
The visitors began the match strongly, forcing Lancaster back into their own half right from the get-go – and there the ball stayed for virtually unbroken period of 20 minutes. Despite their territorial advantage and monopoly of attacking nous, they could not get past a well-drilled and fired-up Red Rose back-line.
On one occasion, the White Rose, spearheaded by the power of Thulani Kumbugwe, found themselves over the whitewash and thought they’d got the ball down, only for the referee to award a scrum on the 5-metre line after adjudging the ball had been held up.
The deadlock eventually was broken mid-way through the first-half as York’s dominance finally paid off, with Staples crashing over the try-line for 5 points, to cries of “You’ve been stapled” by the travelling support.
The Roses hosts poured forward after kick-off, finally getting some possession and territorial advantage, but could not find a breakthrough, with York tackling strongly, as the match went into half-time at 5-0. There were some stoppages in the game due to injuries to both sides, but luckily nothing drastically serious, and the game was finely poised.
Straight after the interval, Staples doubled her own tally, making the scores 10-0, as she caught the ball from kick-off and sprinted through the entire Lancaster team, putting York in a strong position to leave the match.
With York seemingly cruising, they then gifted the hosts a path back into the game after a daft pass was intercepted, allowing the Red Rose to go down under the post. Fortunately for York, Lancaster missed the conversion, keeping them marginally more out of reach.
The Lancaster try seemed only to galvanise the White Rose, however, and the match returned to its first-half balance. The visitors sent on Lottie Vong on the wing, and she made an immediate impact running down the flanks, but was eventually pushed into touch after a promising passage of play.
The third try arrived soon after though, as Juliette Carter went down under the posts after a surging run. Harriet Giles made her first successful conversion of the afternoon, and the scoreline stood at 17-5.
There were some anxious moments for York as two-try hero Mollie Staples was taken off, with York leading going into the final minutes, but the game was won for York. Giles’ late penalty sailed through the posts for 20-5, and the final whistle blew, with some victorious York players, many of whom were third year leavers, in tears, as emotions ran high.
After the game, Mollie Staples told Vision: “It was probably the hardest game of the season. We were evenly matched, it was incredible. The tries we scored were definitely not flukes. Our team did not give up despite injuries. Special mentions to Juliette for being fantastic today, she was player of the match today.”