Scarborough Rugby Club’s women’s team, the Valkyries, played their first full 15-a-side; 80-minute match last Saturday against a well established Barnsley side and attracted a crowd of 200-plus spectators to Silver Royd.
The south-Yorkshire side had the better of the early exchanges and a converted try after 11 minutes did not bode well for the local girls.
However heads refused to go down and they camped in Barnsley territory making ground with ball in hand. Although an athletic side, the Valkryies were confronted by a physically bigger 15 and were rattled by the ferocity of their tackling.
Valkyries’ skipper, scrum-half Cathy-Ann Myers led from the front and much of the local girls’ play emanated from the tricky Irish number nine.
A penalty in the 20th minute was popped into touch by Myers on the Barnsley five metre line but Scarborough struggled at this phase of forward set-piece and the line-out was lost.
However on turning over the ball the home side continued to press with lock Jess Bray and full-back Susan Barker impressing.
Barnsley eventually lifted the siege and ran the ball from deep from defence up-field where they probed the Valkryies’ defence.
And when referee Daryl Conlan penalised an infringement on the home 22 in the 24th minute, the visitors stretched their lead to 10-0 with the resulting penalty.
Good Scarborough defence kept their line intact for the remainder of the half and Barnsley went to the break without adding to their lead.
With the floodlights piercing the gloom, the Scarborough side continued to apply themselves but found the solid defence and assured tackling of their south Yorkshire opponents hard to break down.
And it was Barnsley who stretched their lead to 17-0 with a converted try early in the half.
With their lack of experience and without a kicking game the local girls found it difficult to make territory, however some impressive running from flanker Jenna Redmond and hooker Santa Mason in the forwards and scrum-half Myers, centre Nicole Sedgwick and Susan Barker impressed their vocal support.
It looked as if a Scarborough try was on when Cathy-Ann Myers broke from mid-field in the 55 minute only to caught and brought down short; it appeared as if the biggest cheer of the afternoon was imminent when a Valkyries player went over in the corner but Mr Conlan judged her to have brushed a corner flag and the try was disallowed.
Power, physicality and experience began to tell and two further half tries, one converted saw the visitors lead 29-0 in the 67th minute. With Barnsley’s big forwards tiring it looked as if the local girls would break their duck at the death but the visitors’ defence held firm and they went on to record a well-deserved win.