BY ART DE ROCHE
Worcester Valkyries picked up their first points of the season as they battled out a dramatic 12-12 draw with Firwood Waterloo Ladies at the Memorial Ground on Saturday.
Nikita Frere and Zoe Bennion crossed the whitewash for Valkyries either side of half-time as Roy Davies’ side sensed victory with a 12-0 lead.
But a late Ash Neale double drew the teams level, only for Beth Stott’s 76th-minute conversion to miss the upright which would’ve sealed victory for the hosts.
The opening exchanges of the game saw Valkyries take control as they enjoyed a lot of possession while driving up the pitch but they couldn’t capitalise and penetrate the Waterloo defence.
The hosts began to find their groove but Valkyries proved to be resolute in defence, putting in strong tackles and turning over the ball which would eventually lead to the first try of the game.
Following a scrum in midfield, Valkyries played through some phases before finding Frere who galloped down the wing to score in the corner just after the 20 minute-mark.
The Valkyries fans were back on their feet again when full-back Vicky Laflin made a break to race downfield but a knock-on after recycling the ball ended the move inside the hosts’ half.
A solid defence at the end of the half saw Valkyries maintain their advantage as they held out the hosts who were camped by the tryline during a number of phases before being turned over.
Valkyries started the second period in the ascendancy and extended their lead when Bennion, playing at number eight, crashed over with a pick-and-go following a five-metre scrum and Beth James landed the extras.
However, after going two tries down, the home side showed they were still in the fight.
The last 15 minutes would see them put relentless pressure on the Valkyries defence who matched the attacks well but were eventually undone.
Nine minutes before full-time Neale ran in after Firwood created an overlap for her to exploit.
And with just several minutes left, Neale levelled the scores after Waterloo went through a number of phases before shipping it wide.
Stott’s conversion would have given the hosts the lead but the scores remained tied in a tense 12-12 scoreline.
Valkyries’ next fixture sees them face Loughborough Lightning at Sixways on Sunday 10 December (kick-off 2pm).
Valkyries | 15 Vicky Laflin, 14 Brooke Clarke, 13 Charlie Murray (James 26), 12 Meg Varley, 11 Nikita Frere, 10 Rebecca Scholes, 9 Sian Moore; 1 Akina Gondwe, 2 Lark Davies (C), 3 Megan York (English 77), 4 Helena Bunce (Wood 53), 5 Ruth Black, 6 Daisy French, 7 Charlie Wilcock, 8 Zoe Bennion
Replacements | 16 Katie Phillips, 17 Nat English, 18 Lauren Leatherland, 19 Keeli Wood, 20 Emily Codd, 21 Beth James, 22 Lia Gingell
23m | Frere try 0-5
52m | Bennion try 0-10
53m | James con 0-12
71m | Neale try 5-12
72m | Scott con 7-12
76m | Neale try 12-12