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Quins' Ladies tame Aylesford
Sunlight glittered across succulent blades of grass as Quins Ladies played host to Aylesford. From the off this was to be a fiery clash as each side was raring to go and intent on victory. Quins pushed into Aylesford’s half from the kick off and the teams went tit for tat as they each flexed their muscles exploding up the pitch only to be frustrated by ferocious tackles before either could reach the try line.

From the base of a Quins’ scrum, Amy Smith passed to fly half Jayne Goodliffe who chipped the ball over the visitors’ heads to travel over the Aylesford try line. The subsequent Quins’ scrum sent the ball over to centre Becs Rowe who scored the first, well-earned points of the game although Quins fell short of the extra 2 points.

The assembled crowd were on tenterhooks as both teams attacked each play like a gladiatorial duel. Hit after bone-crunching hit drove the ball forwards for Quins Ladies until tenacious play from Aylesford stole possession and allowed them a trip tortuously close to Quins’ try line. As halftime drew nigh, a kick to touch drew the curtain on the bloody battle of brains and brawn playing out in front of the spectators.

Stepping out for the final act of this turbulent game, both teams were intent on sealing victory in the brilliant shimmer of the frigid October afternoon. Break countered each thrilling break and as the passion of the game and the encouragement from the sidelines intensified, flanker Jess Walden dived under Aylesford’s tackles to score in the far corner. Unfortunately not converted.

From the re-start, Aylesford maintained control of the ball but Quins kept their foot on the gas and the visitors at bay with some great tackles from Connie Critchlow, Becs Rowe and Jayne Goodliffe. The backs grasped more opportunities in which to shine with some fantastic cover by Marloes Van Duuren at full back and solid support from Jane Hill. Electrifying linking play from Becs Rowe and Katy Strudwick took the fight deep into Aylesford’s half. Stealing possession, Aylesford fought desperately to reverse Quins’ march forwards and penetrate their defence but a kick up field by their centre was safely collected by Connie Critchlow and Goodliffe dispatched the ball back down field.

Aylesford were relentless however and some tireless work from their team was rewarded with a late try that they did not manage to convert. As the final minute drew tantalisingly close, a knock on gifted Quins with a scrum and a decisive kick to touch from Goodliffe sealed a triumph for Quins and brought the battle to an end.

Two Forwards of the match: Alice Gayner and Jess Walden

Harlequin Ladies’ Squad: Katherine Smith (prop), Jane Hoyes (hooker), Hannah Clarke (prop), Chloe Taylor (second row), Kyra Howell (second row), Connie Critchlow (blindside flanker), Jess Walden (open-side flanker), Alice Gayner (number 8), Amy Smith (scrum half), Jayne Goodliffe (fly half), Melanie Antao (winger), Rebecca Rowe (centre), Katy Strudwick (centre), Jane Hill (winger), Marloes Van Duuren (fullback). Subs: Kirsty Rennison, Luana Beltramini, Lauren Cooper.

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