Local derbies / grudge matches feature in every sporting league, and so Oxford Ladies 4s hosted Hawks Ladies 4s in the traditional Oxford derby. With Hawks fighting for promotion there was more at stake than the local bragging rights for the season. However, in keeping with Hawks L4 customs, Oxford started the strongest.
Hawks sustained wave after wave of intense pressure from the off with Phil, Jess and Becky trying to marshal their defence as Oxford attempted to penetrate the red zone. As the midfield scrummaged, testing their strength, Oxford kept pushing down the blindside and using the grubber kicks to probe the try line but Evelyn held strong. Hawks managed to string some attacking phases together but struggled to use the full width of the pitch, allowing Oxford to make the easy interceptions. The defence were forced to make multiple last-gasp box kicks to clear their lines but the pressure took its toll. Several penalties were given away as they attempted to slow the game down. Eventually Oxford mauled their way over the try line for the first points of the game.
The half time talk was crucial and the captain hammered home the importance of this game. Her displeasure roused the fighting spirit within Hawks and it was with steely eyes that they faced the second half.
Oxford didn’t know what hit them…
Hawks pulled together, utilising every member of the pack to advance over the gain line. The midfield exerted their presence on the scrum, with Vicky, Megan and Lissy mauling and rucking at every opportunity. After many uses of the crash ball to push through the Oxford defence, Georgia was released to goose step round the defence and equalise for Hawks. The relief was palpable on everyone’s face and the belief Hawks could win was flowing across the pitch enhanced by the vocal supporters on the sideline. Oxford rallied briefly but kept encountering the blitz defence and the tackles led to many turnovers from which Catherine would often place kick the ball through for the wingers to run onto. Rebecca, Caz and Cat overlapped and off-loaded to each other, running rings around Oxford causing them to start giving away penalties. From one such penalty Rebecca was spot on the black dot and Hawks took the lead. As the clock ticked down the game became more frantic as each side were tiring from fending and tackling so much. Play would often breakdown but Hawks were sharp to take advantage of the quick ball to release Kim and Charlie down the openside. Use of the Garryowen to allow Pip to cause havoc in the defensive lines was effective as the penalties kept coming. An off-load from Rebecca to Charlie gave Hawks the third score they’d been looking for as the game slipped away from Oxford.