Eton Manor under-15 girls reach semi-finals of South East Area Cup with hard-fought win over Pulborough
PUBLISHED: 13:00 08 February 2018
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South East Area Cup quarter-final: Pulborough under-15s 12 Eton Manor under-15s 17
Eton Manor’s under-15 girls secured their place in the semi-finals of the South East Area Cup with the final move of the game against a determined Pulborough side last weekend, winning 17-12 in the end.
Two tries from number eight Evelyn Weeden, a try from substitute scrum-half Nansai Mooney and a conversion from fly-half Ellie Cunningham saw the girls edge to victory in a fiercely competitive battle in freezing conditions in the South Downs.
Manor had few chances up the slope in a tightly fought first half, with the teams cancelling each other out for long periods in the middle of the pitch.
Pulborough got the breakthrough after ten minutes, with three outstanding hand offs from their back row leading to a try in the corner, which they couldn’t convert.
Manor responded well, despite losing scrum-half Maddie Fitch to an old injury, stepping up the intensity and putting together some strong passages of play.
Eventually their persistence paid off, with Cunningham forcing her way across the line and offloading to Mooney who grounded the ball to level the scores 5-5. The follow up kick from a difficult angle went wide.
Strong early possession after the break saw Manor put repeated pressure on the Pulborough line, with winger Ellen Darcy in her first season narrowly short of scoring after a lightning run down the left, and prop Simbi Sikiru adjudged to have been held up after appearing to ground Manor’s second try.
A huge drive from the resulting scrum allowed Weeden to pick up and dive for the line before Pulborough could react. Cunningham’s cool conversion gave Manor a 12-7 lead.
Pulborough didn’t give up, and their strong rucking game put greater pressure on the Manor forwards after second row Sophie Watkinson was substituted.
Determined tackling across the park kept them at bay, with standout tackles from Darcy, centre Amy Fitch and winger Clio Godwin.
With ten minutes to play, Pulborough earned a lineout close to the Manor 10 metre line. A neat move from the lineout saw Pulborough create space, stretching the Manor defence.
The girls withstood several waves of attacks, until a penalty for not rolling away finally gave Pulborough the chance they needed to break through, and the resulting conversion levelled the scores.
A penalty in the dying moments of the second half gave Manor a final chance. The girls decided to run the ball, but a huge drive from second row Christina Campbell supported by Amina Benajeh and Maddison Kirrage couldn’t quite take it over the line, and the game ended 12-12.
Manor started the extra time the stronger, and quickly put pressure on the Pulborough line, forcing them into a kicking game and creating space for fullback Nikiyah Talbot to run.
But Pulborough held firm, and the score remained 12-12 at the turnaround. By now Manor’s superior fitness was beginning to show, and some determined running from Saiorse Clune saw Manor set up camp in Pulborough’s half.
Possession repeatedly changed hands as outstanding tackling from forwards Scarlett Bowden, Lauren Manners and Isobel Wright neutralised Pulborough’s rucking.
In the final moments, neat running from centre Tamara Morrison created space for Amy Fitch to take the ball into the corner. Fitch offloaded to Weeden who rolled away from the maul to ground the ball in the final minute.
Cunningham’s outstanding kick from the touchline went inches wide of the far post, and with no time for the restart Manor had won 17-12.
The semi-final against Dorking & Old Reigatians will be held on Sunday 25th February at Eton Manor’s Nutter Lane ground.
Eton Manor girls teams welcome new players in school years 6-12. For more information contact Jackie Clune (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Eton Manor under-15 girls squad: 9 Maddie Fitch, 10 Ellie Cunningham, 11 Ellen Darcy, 12 Tamara Morrison, 13 Amy Fitch, 14 Clio Godwin, 15 Nikiyah Talbot, 1 Amina Benajeh, 2 Isobel Wright, 3 Simbi Sikiru, 4 Sophie Watkinson, 5 Christina Campbell, 6 Scarlett Bowden (c), 7 Saoirse Clune, 8 Evelyn Weeden, 16 Lauren Manners, 17 Maddison Kirrage, 18 Nansai Mooney.
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