BY ART DE ROCHE
Worcester Valkyries endured a difficult test as they were defeated 80-0 by local rivals Gloucester-Hartpury Women at Hartpury College in the Tyrrells Premier 15s on Saturday.
Coming up against a side that is challenging for a top-four finish, Valkyries were unable to stop Gloucester-Hartpury’s winning start to 2018.
The hosts took their chances clinically as tries from Kelly Smith (5), Rachel Lund (3), Ellie Underwood (2), Bianca Blackburn, Courtney Gill and Ceri Large sealed the win.
Valkyries did come close to scoring multiple times, however, errors would cost the visitors while approaching the Gloucester-Hartpury tryline.
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts as Gloucester-Hartpury opened the scoring following a lineout soon after the kick-off, as they spread the ball wide to Lund to touch down.
Valkyries responded well as they looked to drive up the pitch through the phases, but after losing the ball in midfield, Smith picked up and ran in to score under the posts.
The visitors didn’t lie down though and climbed into the hosts’ 22 on a couple more occasions, but couldn’t convert.
Gloucester-Hartpury had their turn to pile on the pressure next and Valkyries looked up to the test. Forcing a knock-on and holding the ball up to deny the hosts, Valkyries’ defence looked strong but they were eventually beaten on the outside by Underwood following a scrum.
Valkyries continued to ask questions in the 22 but couldn’t pick up any points and the hosts punished them with two tries in quick succession, as Underwood and Lund both went over for their second scores.
Closing in on the break, Valkyries came as close as ever to scoring. After patient phase-play to march through the Gloucester-Hartpury 22, the visitors chose to release the backs, but a knock-on within five metres of the tryline ended the move.
To signal the end of the first-half, Gloucester-Hartpury managed another try through Blackburn after taking a quick penalty metres away from the tryline following Cara Brincat’s sin-bin.
The hosts were awarded a penalty try shortly after the interval following a Valkyries high tackle and Gloucester-Hartpury stretched their lead with quickfire tries for Smith and Lund.
More frustration came just past the hour-mark as Gill was able to finish the forwards’ work minutes before Smith completed her hat-trick after the home side managed to steal the ball from a Valkyries lineout.
With ten minutes to go, Gloucester-Hartpury won a Worcester scrum before Large went through to score under the posts.
Despite another Valkyries effort to take the game to the hosts, it would be Gloucester-Hartpury to end the game on a high, as Smith went on to add two late tries to close proceedings.
Valkyries’ next game sees an away trip to Surrey Sports Ground as they play Harlequins Ladies on Saturday 17 February (kick-off 2pm).
Valkyries | 15 Samantha Bree (Laflin 60), 14 Brooke Clarke, 13 Megan Varley, 12 Carys Cox, 11 Nikita Frere (Rigby 69), 10 Rebecca Scholes (Hayward 50), 9 Sian Moore; 1 Akina Gondwe, 2 Sophie Johnson (Phillips 69), 3 Nat English (Leatherland 60), 4 Liz Shermer (Black 47), 5 Laura Thomas, 6 Cara Brincat, 7 Charlie Wilcock (C), 8 Daisy French (Richards 69)
Replacements | 16 Lauren Leatherland, 17 Katie Phillips, 18 Ruth Black, 19 Jo Richards, 20 Eloise Hayward, 21 Danni Rigby, 22 Vicky Laflin
02m | Lund try 5-0
05m | Smith try 10-0
06m | Mary-Ann Gittings con 12-0
20m | Underwood try 17-0
28m | Underwood try 22-0
30m | Lund try 27-0
39m | Blackburn try 32-0
40m | Gittings con 34-0
42m | Penalty try 41-0
52m | Smith try 46-0
55m | Lund try 51-0
56m | Gittings con 53-0
62m | Gill try 58-0
65m | Smith try 63-0
70m | Large try 68-0
71m | Sarah Nicholas con 70-0
77m | Smith try 75-0
79m | Smith try 80-0