The match started off with Leeds University on the back foot, with Leeds University fly-half, Hannah Morton, making a great tackle on Beckett’s left-winger, Olivia Almond. After a slightly cautious first five minutes, Leeds University eventually pushed Beckett back to their 22-metre line; following a few rucks, Leeds University were successful in putting some points on the board – with Leeds University left-wing, Anna Hamilton, scoring a try in the corner. The try was scored from some great team play which led to Anna Hamilton forcing herself through to make it 5-0; however, Hannah Morton was left with a difficult angle, and was unable to put any further points on the board.
Beckett, who are renowned for their great sporting teams, were not going to be shackled that easily, with a fantastic bit of passing between Olivia Almond and full-back, Ailish Clear, almost leading to Leeds University defence being split; nonetheless, the attack broke down once Beckett’s outside centre, Celine Almond, spilt the ball for a knock on.
The pressure did not allay, as Beckett carried on pushing. Although a sudden change in possession, saw Leeds University’s outside centre, Rosie Blount, intercept and push Leeds University forward 30 metres. Leeds University, again, had Beckett pinned back and Rosie Blount was rightfully rewarded for her hard work, as Hannah Morton kicked through with Rosie Blount juggling the ball on her thigh before her foot to get the ball over the line for a try. Hannah Morton was also compensated for her brilliant assist, as she put a further two points on the board from the conversion.
In a matter of seconds after Leeds University second try, Leeds University managed to turnover a ruck giving the ball to Melina Irawo, inside-centre, who catapulted through Beckett’s line – running 50 metres of the pitch – before scoring another try with ease. Hannah Morton collected another two points, bringing the score to 19-0 only seconds from half-time. Although, through an unfortunate collision, Hannah Morton was caught in a challenge which led to her heading off injured at half-time.
The first few minutes of the second half started off far more cagey than the first-half had finished, with Beckett still finding their feet in the game. Although, after about five minutes Rosie Blount made a darting run through the Beckett defence, pinning them back on their own 10 metre line.
Despite the territory gains, some intelligent kicking from Beckett helped them escape from the increasing pressure from Leeds University. In turn, this gave way to an offensive chance for Beckett as Celine Almond broke through the Leeds University line before Rosie Blount made a perfect last ditch challenge preventing Beckett putting points on the board. Nevertheless, the mounted pressure from Beckett did eventually lead to a breakthrough – with a try, from inside-centre, Cara Cookland, scoring right between the posts. Cookland followed up by taking, and converting, the simple conversion to close the score to 19 – 7.
As the match drew to it’s later stages, the support for the men’s outfit came and with them, a louder – and a rather more vulgar vocal support came. All the usual chants of varsity were made loud and clear.
The game had begun to stagnate, before Evie Tonkin broke through the Leeds University defence, before Anna Hamilton made a great last ditch challenge; and in scenes reminiscent of Beckett’s first try, the accumulated pressure led to Beckett’s number 8, and captain, Hannah Walton, breaking through – bringing a further five points. Due to the strong defensive line of Leeds University forwards, Hannah Walton was forced to put the ball down in the corner; which in turn, led to a far more difficult conversion for Cara Cookland.
With the clock now reaching zero the conversion would be the last kick of the game, Cara Cookland’s kick fell short, and with the final whistle came the celebrations from the Leeds University terraces – a win in the Women’s inaugural Varsity rugby match.
Images by Clare Redman