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Wasps sting Harlequins Ladies
No match this season has been more eagerly anticipated than the second clash between Wasps 2s and Harlequin Ladies. We’ve been talking about this one for months and as I travelled up from Crowborough in the snow, the expectation of the day grew more palpable. Wasps were here with one purpose: to erase the memories of defeat at our last two meetings.

An injury during the warm up saw last minute changes to Quins Ladies’ line up but there was no sleep for the wicked as both teams were fighting tooth and nail from the start. Kay Rees stamped her name on the game from the off making ferocious tackles throughout as Wasps sought a chink in Quins’ defence. Wasps made a break from a kick up the field, great recovery of the ball from Katy Strudwick. The backline had their names all over the game as a succession of Wasps’ sorties into Quins’ half were halted. Wasps continued to recycle the ball and pressurise the home side, though Sarah Butler ably covered at full back with secure catches and try-saving tackles.

Sound catching from Kyra Howell in the line out allowed Rees to make a break up the field, propelled forwards by the supporting pack. The ball found Amy Smith who charged down the right flank, cut disappointingly short when bundled into touch. An attempted Wasps’ kick to touch was disrupted by Lauren Cooper’s pressure in attack as the loose ball was retrieved by Quins.

Jayne Goodliffe kicked up the field, caught by Wasps who ran it back into Quins’ half. Quins committed too many to the breakdown as Wasps took advantage of the overlap and their first receiver broke a tackle and scored, converted.

A number of penalties in favour of the home side gave hope as Quins took the game back to Wasps but to no avail. Another kick by Wasps was comfortably received by Butler who made a great run up the pitch but despite great rucking from Quins, was taken into touch closing the first half.

Wasps took a penalty early in the second half, converted and replied to by Quins with a good chase from the kick off and subsequent penalty to Quins. From a line out, Quins Ladies drove deep into the Wasps 22 but were unable to capitalise on possession and Wasps cleared the ball. Passing into the Wasps centres, the opposition bore down on Quins and shipped the ball out to the wing to score in the corner, unconverted.

Decimated by several injuries sidelining a number of players including our scrum half and full back, the cost of this gargantuan battle started to take its toll. Luana Beltramini made her league debut for Quins Ladies as Steph Gagne shifted to full back with some great takes and confident decisions. Moments of excellent play and expert flourishes could not break the determined swarm of the opposition and the second half’s intensity was perhaps too little too late to save us from defeat. A late attack by Quins was turned over and a Wasps’ kick was chased over for an unconverted try; followed rather swiftly by another that was converted. Mr Rennison, spectator and father of Kirsty, urged the Ladies not to be disheartened at a well-fought, exciting though unlucky game.

Competition at the top of the table intensifies now as the top four creep closer to one another. In a Women’s World Cup year, Championship South East 2 looks set to be an electrifying curtain raiser!

Forward of the match: Lauren Cooper
Back of the match: Jayne Goodliffe

Harlequin Ladies’ Squad: Katherine Smith (prop), Jo Ballentine (hooker), Hannah Clarke (prop), Ros Holder (second row), Kyra Howell (second row), Alice Gayner (blindside flanker), Lauren Cooper (open-side flanker), Nat Smith (number 8), Amy Smith (scrum half), Kate Sinfield (fly half), Mel Antao (winger), Jayne Goodliffe (centre), Kay Rees (centre), Katy Strudwick (winger), Sarah Butler (fullback). Subs: Jane Hoyes, Kirsty Rennison, Steph Gagne, Luana Beltramini.

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