By Ian Lodge
Ashford RFC Ladies 20 Thanet Wanderers RUFC Ladies 54
Having opened their league campaign with a 31-0 victory over Medway 2 weeks ago, Thanet Wanderers Ladies XV travelled to Ashford RFC in the first round of the RFU Junior Cup, their first competitive cup game since 2004.
With Ashford competing in RFU League NC2, two leagues above Wanderers, the ladies new that a tough task was ahead of them with more than half of the team playing their first full 15-a-side match.
Ashford started the stronger and used their big pack to make inroads into the Thanet defence and despite resilient defence notably from Vicky Flower, Brioni Reah, Nadine Hills and Jae East, we were only 5 minutes in before The Ashford number 8 crashed over to take a 5-0 lead.
Thanet knew that the Ashford pack was going to be strong and that playing a forwards game was likely to end in defeat so as soon the Thanet had possession, the game plan to move the ball into space and use their superior hands to exploit the open wide spaces.
After a break from debutant Keira-Leigh Gallup down the left flank, some neat offloading from captain Gee Cordell and Sophie Richardson, substitute Milly Thurman-Newell crashed over to level the scores. The team had worked out that was the way to beat the Ashford side and more sweet passing from forwards and backs alike saw Cordell score and Richardson grab a couple to take the game into half time with a 22-5 lead.
For the first 15 minutes after the after the break, it continued to be one way traffic. The Thanet forwards were competing with their Ashford counterparts with dynamic runs from further members of the Thurman-Newell family, Ella and Holly as well as hooker Hollie Callaghan and the pack’s efforts was creating clean ball for the backs.
Fly half Leonie Bish was marshalling her backs superbly and inside centre Fleur Moat was smashing holes in the Ashford midfield releasing full back Thahseen Ali, then winger Justine Mackintosh to almost get in for a debut try. But it wasn’t long before Wanderers extended their lead to 39-5 with a try from flanker and player of the match Georgia Elks, another for Milly Thurman-Newell before Richardson completed her hat-trick.
Ashford were still going strong and were not rolling over and reduced the deficit to 39-10 with another trademark forward burst. Winger Megan Bish showed a clean pair of heels and scampered in at the corner before the Thanet scoring was completed with further tries for Richardson and Cordell before Thurman-Newell completed her hat-trick.
Ashford finished the game stronger and two final tries from their forwards saw the match finish 54-20 to Wanderers.
Thanet Ladies now face Aylesford Ladies on Sunday 30th October 2022 in the second round of the RFU Junior Cup at St Peter’s Rec. But attention turns back to the Inner Warrior league now with the visit of Faversham Sirens next Sunday also at St Peter’s Rec, KO 2pm.