On a blustery overcast afternoon at the Memorial Ground it was the visitors Bristol who kicked off the first half. The home side received and in traditional fashion played out of their 22. They moved the ball well and went from phase to phase in an efficient manner, pushing Bristol back towards the halfway line.
The opening exchanges continued as possession was gained and lost by both sides – neither of whom looked close to open the scoring within the first 10 minutes. Firwood Waterloo started to build up a head of steam and exert pressure on the visitors 22 and pushed with towards the try line. The home side then worked an overlap but unfortunately were denied by a handling error and the chance went begging. From the resulting scrum Bristol managed to exit efficiently with a clever kick and Firwood Waterloo were bundled into touch around the halfway line.
Bristol maintained possession and moved into the Firwood Waterloo half effective rucking and recycling allowed them to push on into the home 22 and sustain pressure. After a number phases, they moved the ball wide and found space for McNaney to go over for the opening score. Confusion reigned and it took three attempts for the referee to be satisfied that the correct procedure had been followed. After missing the first two attempts it was third time lucky for Attwood as the ball finally bisected the uprights - 0-7.
Undaunted, the home side once again pressed towards the goal line establishing numerous positions in the visitors 22. From one possession an overlap was created and unfortunately for ‘Loo, misjudgement and poor handling meant that the overlap could not be converted into a try. However, the pressure was beginning to tell and Bristol had a player sent to the sin bin.
Repeated possessions meant that Bristol were finding it difficult to maintain a defensive structure, and from these problems Firwood Waterloo were awarded a kick-able penalty slightly to the right of the posts. Beth Stott stepped up to kick the three points but unfortunately miscued the attempt and the ball sailed wide of the uprights.
The half returned to a pattern of nip and tuck where possessions were exchanged but no obvious scoring opportunities were apparent until Laura Perrin broke straight through the middle of the Bristol defensive line and was hauled down 6 or 7m from the line. Firwood Waterloo pressed forward but sadly the chance went begging once again as the home side knocked on close to the line.
The half then petered out and the teams returned to the changing rooms with the score 0-7.
With the wind behind them Firwood Waterloo kicked deep into the Bristol half. Bristol chose to try and play their way out of trouble but after a few mins play Firwood Waterloo had forced them back towards their own try line. During the defensive set ‘Loo managed to force the Bristol players into a knock on. This resulted in a 5m scrum and a great attacking platform for the home side to attempt to level the scores. However, the Firwood Waterloo pack conspired to lose the ball against the head and Bristol managed to clear the ball up the pitch to relieve the attacking threat.
The game again meandered into a period of Firwood Waterloo creating half chances only to be slaughtered, usually by their own mistakes in giving up possession to the opposition. Bristol continued to be workmanlike in both attack and defence and managed both the game plan and possession well without really looking to threaten the Firwood Waterloo line again. Firwood Waterloo made half chances and line breaks but could not managed to finish one of them off.
Just after the Midway point in the half, Bristol, with a well worked move, made a line break which was finally hold down deep in the home side’s 22 and from the resulting ruck they created a number of phases and managed to put over Attwood for the second try, somewhat against the run of play. Attwood converted her own score 14 points to Nil in the visitors' favour.
Firwood Waterloo began to make changes in order to chase the game and look for the elusive try. No matter how they pressed, it was not to be, as both errors and Bristol’s steady defence defied them any serious opportunity late in the game. The game staggered towards a close in the midfield areas and was finally put to rest when the Bristol scrum half kicked to touch to end what had promised so much for the home side.
Head coach Giles Hegerty reflected on the match “ultimately a disappointing result brought about by our own mistakes. However, for a good part of the game we played some great rugby and if we can maintain this level of performance whilst reducing our errors, I am confident that we will continue to move forward.”
Firwood Waterloo Women have the chance to rectify some of those mistakes next week as they travel to Loughborough Lightning.