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Top of the table tightens as Harlequins Ladies draw with Thurrock
Anyone who has ever asked if women really play full contact rugby would have spent Sunday afternoon shuddering on the sideline at the intensity and athleticism displayed by amateur sportswomen. This game had all the makings of a gladiatorial contest and neither side were to disappoint the assembled crowds.

The fast pace of rugby that broke out from the moment Thurrock kicked off set the tone for the rest of the match. Storming runs up the wing by Katy Strudwick raised the hearts of spectators and tempo of the game as Quins Ladies fought tooth and nail to put a score past Thurrock’s T-Birds. Not be outdone, the forwards eagerly announced their presence on the pitch with a great steal from a line out by Jane Hoyes and a great hand off from Nat Smith, today valiantly stepping into the centres. Smith linked to Zoe Jeanes, who exploded up the pitch. Try as they might though, Quins were unable to slice through Thurrock’s defence. From a re-set scrum, Thurrock seized the advantage and crashed through on the wing to score the first try of the match, unconverted.

In the face of such rigorous pressure, Quins fronted up to Thurrock keeping their heads up and in the game. Superb line out catching (and stealing) from Claire Brazier-Kobus facilitated some decisive power plays from forwards Jeanes and Captain Quinn and even allowed fly half Jayne Goodliffe to drop in some beastly tackles. Unfortunately a tackle deemed dangerous by the referee saw one of the Ladies sin binned just before half time.

The break seemed short and surreal as Quins Ladies kick to start renewed Thurrock’s incessant attack. Despite some vital tackles made by Quins Ladies, a try continued to elude them and, unable to capitalise on a scrum in Thurrock’s half, were turned over when Thurrock’s scrum half stole the ball and escaped down the field to score, again, unconverted.

From the base of a Quins’ scrum, Kay Rees shipped the ball to substitute wing Alex Leigh who was brought down by Thurrock short of the try line. Nonetheless, the blood was still up and bodies still willing as the exceptional Goodliffe confounded the defence to score under the posts and convert. Thurrock’s re-start was caught by Jeanes with a short blast out to Leigh who threatened another try only for the ball to be turned over in a maul. Cleared by Thurrock, Quins Ladies maintained good possession building phase after phase with more meticulous kicking from Goodliffe.

Quins Ladies were awarded a penalty, kicked to touch by Goodliffe with possession secured in the line out. A massive drive from Quins’ forwards sent the ball to steadfast Amy Smith who dispatched it to Goodliffe notching up her second try and conversion – bringing the score tantalisingly close at 17-14. A penalty against Thurrock for holding on took the ball out to the wing, attempting, yet failing, to penetrate the line. A further penalty in Quins’ favour had hearts in mouths as Goodliffe stepped up and slotted the ball effortlessly over the posts to draw the result as the final whistle blew. An outstanding team effort by Quins Ladies who erupted onto the pitch ecstatic with a draw that tasted so very much like a win.

Forward of the match: Zoe Jeanes
Back of the match: Jayne Goodliffe

Harlequin Ladies’ Squad: Zoe Jeanes (prop), Jo Ballentine (hooker), Katherine Smith (prop), Kate Sinfield (second row), Kyra Howell (second row), Jane Hoyes (blindside flanker), Claire Brazier-Kobus (open-side flanker), Laura Quinn (number 8 and Team Captain), Amy Smith (scrum half), Jayne Goodliffe (fly half), Mel Antao (winger), Nat Smith (centre), Kay Rees (centre), Katy Strudwick (winger), Fi Eccleston (fullback). Subs: Ros Holder, Alice Gayner, Lauren Cooper, Alex Leigh, Jo Everett.

For further information about Harlequin Ladies Football Club, including the range of fabulous sponsorship opportunities we offer, please contact us via email on quinsladies@hotmail.com or click on the website www.harlequinladies.co.uk

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