Attack and Backs Coach Sian Moore admits Warriors Women’s narrow 26-22 defeat at Wasps in Round 3 of the Allianz Premiership was tough to take, but insists the performance was pleasing as the Sixways outfit picked up another bonus point.
Warriors led 19-14 at the interval thanks to tries from Caity Mattinson, Alex Callender and Alex Matthews, but were undone in the final quarter by a drive over score which was uncharacteristic of the game given the visitors’ dominance up front.
“For a neutral it was an entertaining match and we’re pleased with the performance, but not the result,” said Moore, who watched on like most of the travelling contingent to Twyford Avenue with hands on heads as Warriors spurned a series of try-scoring opportunities at the death.
“There was a big improvement from last week’s game against Harlequins and that’s all that we can ask for. We applied a lot of pressure during pockets of the game, but we let that slip at times – we’re three games in now and the girls are really responding to what we’re trying to do and that’s great to see.”
Wasps went ahead as early as the second minute through scrum-half Claudia MacDonald, who sniped her way over after a barrage of pressure from the off. Flo Williams, on her 50th outing for Wasps, converted for a 7-0 lead.
Warriors responded well despite the early set-back and went close to a try of their own when Vicky Laflin intercepted on halfway, before racing clear only to be thwarted by a scrambling Wasps rearguard. Laflin, who was making her first appearance of the season, was unable to hold onto the ball in the collision and the hosts breathed a sigh of relief.
A quick response
The visitors’ endeavour in attack was rewarded on 12 minutes when Mattinson threw an outrageous dummy, which bamboozled Wasps’ defence and the England capped number nine scooted in to touchdown. Foxwell was unable to add the extras with the score 7-5 to Wasps.
On 26 minutes full-back Jessica Cooksey crossed the whitewash, taking a sublime back handed pass to dot down for a converted score under the posts.
Trailing 14-5 with half-time looming, Warriors were not fazed and continued to boss the scum with the likes of Sioned Harries and Alycia Washington rallying the charges.
As the forwards dominated proceedings, penalties came, and five minutes from the break, a quick tap penalty from Mattinson unleashed the Welsh wizard Alex Callender to the line and there was no stopping her. Foxwell registered her first success with the boot to add the conversion to reduce the gap to 14-10.
In the ascendancy at half-time
On the stroke of half-time, the Sixways outfit went in front for the first time with Matthews marking her return from the Tokyo Olympics with a scintillating try, which Foxwell duly converted.
Matthews broke three of a flurry of Wasps defenders, before racing 30-metres and then showing her strength to stretch over to score. The England back-row and Team GB 7s star was a class addition to Jo Yapp’s team, the Camberley-born player contributing significantly at key moments in the game. Single-handedly winning a turnover when Wasps were a whisker from the try line, was just one of a string of game-changing contributions.
As the game approached the 50 minute mark, Wasps were becoming increasingly frustrated and were reduced to 14 players for persistent infringement. Foxwell slotted home the subsequent penalty and Warriors were 22-14 up.
Warriors continued to push forward for more points, which would have arguably put the game out of sight, but when the ball went loose in a collision with a Wasps defender, the visitors attempted a kick through in behind the visitors defence, and the ball sat up nicely for Abigail Dow who raced clear and made sure she went under the sticks.
Warriors still had the lead at 22-21 with a huge final 15 minutes to get through as coaches, replacements and the supporters agonizingly watched on with Elizabeth Shermer leading the vocals on the touchline after she came off following a solid shift.
The sucker-punch try
Wasps, with their top four mentality, knew there was still time to snatch victory and on 66 minutes they were over for their fourth score of the afternoon to secure the bonus point. The conversion was hooked wide by Williams and it was 26-22 to Wasps to set up an exciting finale.
Yapp’s charges peppered Wasps’ 22 for the remaining three minutes, striving for an opening, and there were a few which will be going through the team’s heads on the way up the M40.
First Carys Cox went to within inches of the try line – her growing credentials in the game for all to see in the London sun, and then a knock-on halted a Warriors attack with the try line beckoning.
Warriors had a lineout five metres from Wasps line with the last play, and after collecting the ball safely, the heavies looked to drive it forward, only for the referee to penalise the visitors. Wasps celebrated victory with rapturous cheers as the ball was booted into touch.
2m | MacDonald try 0-5
2m | Williams con 0-7
12m | Mattinson try 5-7
26m | Cooksey try 14-5
35m | Callender try 14-10
35m | Foxwell con 14-12
39m | Matthews try 14-17
39m | Foxwell con 14-19
50m | Foxwell pen 14-22
55m | Dow try 19-22
55m | Williams con 21-22
66m | Pack 26-22
67m | Williams con 28-22
Warriors Women | 15 Carys Cox, 14 Abi Kershaw, 13 Vicky Foxwell, 12 Minori Yamamoto, 11 Vicky Laflin, 10 Ellen Murphy, 9 Caity Mattinson ©, 1 Akina Gondwe, 2 Carys Phillips, 3 Flo Long, 4 Elizabeth Shermer, 5 Alycia Washington, 6 Jo Brown, 7 Alex Callender, 8 Sioned Harries (vc)
Replacements | 16 Carmen Tremelling, 17 Caryl Thomas, 18 Abby Smitheman, 19 Lyndsay O’Donnell, 20 Cara Brincat, 21 Alex Matthews, 22 Ffion Lewis, 23 Cat McNaney