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Match Report | Oulton Raidettes 32-48 Sheffield Eagles Women Red


By Barry Wood

Sheffield Eagles Women resumed their Championship league campaign after a week off, travelling away to play Oulton Raidettes, who contested last season’s Championship final, having been victorious against the Eagles in May and July last year.

To begin with, things didn’t go well.  An incorrect play-the-ball granted Oulton possession on their 40m. Six plays later, a cross field kick was allowed to bounce, dropping nicely into the hands of the Oulton left winger who didn’t have to break stride to cross easily in the 2nd minute 10m in from the flag. Conversion missed for a 4-0 lead to Oulton.

A deep restart kick-off was retuned by Oulton with a last tackle kick fired out to the Eagles left edge.  Although fielded safely, possession was promptly squandered by a misjudged offload that was knocked-on before a tackle was even made.  An ill-judged comment invited a 10m penalty for dissent putting Oulton on the Eagles 20m line.  After holding up a drive over the line, the Eagles right edge then fell asleep, not reacting with any line speed to Oulton shifting the ball left. An overhead cut out pass found the Oulton left winger again unmarked 5m from the line. A try in the corner in the 7th minute, conversion missed again for 8-0.

The Eagles kick-off restart forced a goal line dropout, but then in the subsequent attack the Eagles were guilty of crossing, penalty to Oulton.   However the Eagles defended the set out, but then promptly dropped the ball from the handover granting Oulton a 7 tackle set 10 from the Eagles try line, only for Oulton to incorrectly play-the-ball off the zero tackle. A let-off for the Eagles.

This time the Eagles got it together and marched all the way up field to Oulton’s 10m line.  Oulton’s turn to make an error, losing the ball in a scrum on their 30m. Offside at the scrum gave the Eagles a penalty, the kick to touch reaching the 10m line.  Another penalty for stripping the ball on the last tackle followed.  From the tap restart at 20m from the left touchline, the ball went coast to coast into the hands of right winger Clarke, who demonstrated tremendous strength and finishing skill to plant the ball down with one hand by the flag whilst in heavy contact.  A superb touchline conversion from Green brought the score to 8-6, and the Eagles back in the game.

However the gremlins struck again.  The kick-off receipt was fielded successfully, but then promptly undone by losing the ball in the first tackle.  Oulton then knocked-on the collection at the back of the scrum on the Eagles 30m line.   In three plays the Eagles powered 55m up the middle of the field.  A fourth play put the ball into the hands of loose forward Parker, who firstly sold a dummy to open a hole, then powered through defenders to cross 15m to the right of the posts in the 24th minute.  Again converted by Green for 8-12.

The kick-off was returned but plays only reached the Oulton 40m line after an over-ambitious attempt on the right edge was tackled into touch.  From the handover Oulton returned up field assisted by a penalty for offside 13m from the Eagles try line.  Negligible line speed granted Oulton another 10m. Three plays later and sleepy time at the ruck enabled the Oulton dummy half to race behind to dive over unopposed 10m to the right of the posts in the 28th minute. Conversion successful, score 14-12.

Oulton returned the kick-off restart to halfway. The Eagles botched receipt of the last kick but instead were awarded a penalty for an unnecessary late hit on the fumbling player.  Having gained possession it was soon squandered by a rumbustious attempt to get out of a tackle making high contact on the tackler. Oulton should have scored soon afterwards but the forward lost the ball over the line in the tackle, a tap 20 and 7 tackle set to the Eagles.  Oulton then conceded another penalty granting the Eagles good ball in the Oulton 40m zone.  The Eagles drove forward and moved the ball about ending up in the centre 10m out on the fourth tackle.  The ball landed in the hands of Parker once more, who executed another convincing dummy to sprint through the hole unopposed in the 38th minute for a try, again 15m to right of the posts. Converted by Green for a lead of 14-18 to the Eagles.

Half-time: Oulton Raidettes 14 – 18 Sheffield Eagles Women

And now the big question: could the Eagles push on or would they dip as has happened in the earlier rounds.  All one can say is that the rollercoaster continued its run.  Early knock-ons from each side brought two scrums. The second one favoured Oulton who attacked down their left. As play looked to be going back towards the middle, the dummy half went short side after clocking that the Eagles defence had switched off, putting the Oulton left winger over again in the corner.  After that a controversial moment ensued with the conversion which the Eagles players waived away.  The ball appeared to strike the cross bar then pass underneath, only for it to be given as a goal by the referee stood 35-40m away behind the kicker near the touchline.  Score 20-18. Ho hum!

The Eagles then tried to make life hard again with errors in succession trying to exit their 40m zone.  On the third thank you, Oulton found a way over in the 51st minute just to the left of the posts, converted to pull their lead out to 26-18.

For the next six minutes the Eagles still couldn’t get their act together even with the help of Oulton being penalised.  However in the 58th minute a clean break by Auger down the middle, and a follow-up drive by Green took things within 10m of the Oulton line.  Good hands out to the left put the ball into the hands of Tiffin who forced a way over near the corner flag. Conversion missed this time, score 26-22.

From the kick-off the Eagles got it together making their way far up field and eliciting a penalty for offside.  From the tap penalty 30m out, two drives took them within 10m.  Two markers went the same way, and prop forward Auger cut back inside behind them to bust through for a flamboyant touchdown just to the right of the posts in the 66th minute.  Converted by Green to regain the lead at 26-28.

And the rollercoaster continued to climb.  From the kick-off the Eagles went 70m up field in four plays.  A quick play-the-ball and Palmer drew two defenders to put Green through a hole with only the fullback near the try line to beat. A side step and power left the full back hanging on, but it was not enough to stop Green grounding the ball in the 66th minute 10m to the left of the posts, converting her own try for a lead of 26-34.

Yet with every rollercoaster there comes a dip.  Instead of electing to put in a safe set of six, over-ambitious play by the Eagles on their left edge surrendered possession.  Oulton went straight back the other way.  Their prop made it over the try line but was seemingly stopped and held by three Eagles defenders. Not well enough though, the ball planted down under the posts in the 69th minute. Converted to narrow the score back to 32-34.

And then Oulton had their own disaster, knocking-on the kick-off 8m out from their own try line.  A scrum to the Eagles 10m out centre field.  A swift shift right off the back of the scrum, then a ball out the back to fullback Judd.  Judd then drew the defence just enough to create the space for winger Clarke to force a way over low in the corner in the 73rd minute. Conversion missed, but the lead extended to 32-38.

From the restart the Eagles came back strongly again. Five plays brought them to 40m out from the Oulton line.  A last tackle cross field grubber from Palmer took a bounce that wrong-footed the Oulton right winger, only for the chasing Tiffin to gather the ball, evading the chasers to cross 6m in from the corner flag in the 76th minute. Conversion missed, score 32-42.

Alert work by Wood grabbed the short kick-off. A high tackle on Auger helped even more, and another try should have followed, but the Eagles fullback with a 3v1 in front mysteriously elected not to pass and got caught in a tackle, the opportunity seemingly squandered.  Yet not.  A switch to the right from the play-the-ball took play to in front of the posts, followed by another play into the hands of loose forward Parker, who executed another outrageous dummy, gliding through for the final try of the game in the 79th minute.  Converted by Green for a final score of 32-48.

Full-time: Oulton Raidettes 32 – 48 Sheffield Eagles Women


Eagles Tries: Parker(3), Clarke(2), Tiffin(2), Auger, Green

Goals: Green (6/9)


In conclusion, a bit of a scruffy game with both sides making plenty of unforced errors.  The hot weather certainly impacted the Eagles line-speed, being much slower than previous weeks.   However in contrast to last season though, the Eagles now seem to be acquiring the habit of coming home strongly in the final quarter.  When to go to the edges and the execution still needs refinement, and eyes up at times, but at least the ambition is there now with the self-belief that they can score that way.

The coaches’ player of the match award went to Danielle Green, and the captain’s to Lisa Parker.