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Match Report | Sheffield Eagles Women Red 38-0 Bradford Bulls


By Barry Wood


Sheffield Eagles Women's Red side hosted Bradford Bulls on Sunday afternoon as we secured a 38-0 win at Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park.

Things this week did start well. On receiving the kick off, the Eagles swept up field and forced a goal line dropout for a repeat set. On the third play of that set and 4m out to the right of the posts, Parker made an outrageous step off the right foot to glide through the defence, then step the other way to carry a covering defender over for an early try in the 3rd minute. Converted by Green for an early lead of 6-0.

Yet that here we go again feeling returned soon after, with the kick off receipt fumbled granting Bradford a scrum on the Eagles 20m line.  Good line speed and a flat defensive line applied repeated pressure forcing a loose Bradford pass that sailed into touch.  Starting from the 10m handover, a break from Wood crossed the halfway line, only for the tackler rolling over the top to rip the ball out then plead not guilty which the referee accepted.  You win some, you lose some.  However possession didn’t remain in Bradford hands for long with the ball knocked on in their second play from the scrum. 

Yet the Eagles could do no better with an over ambitious offload to a player surrounded by defenders being knocked down, turning possession over and neutering a promising attack 10m out, further compounded by a high tackle on Bradford’s ensuing second play.  Then from the penalty tap Bradford knocked on again on their third play, gifting the ball centre field into the hands of Green who took play back to the Bradford 20m line and the zero tackle of a seven tackle set.  Alas that set went no more than two plays further with another knock-on, a scrum to Bradford on their 10m line.  Then they squandered possession losing the ball in a dominant tackle in the first play off the back of the scrum.

However, at last possession was not wasted this time, with a very well worked set play out left from the back of the Eagles scrum centre-field 10m out.  The ball went from  Wood to Palmer, then out the back to fullback Judd and onwards to left winger Thomas, who raced on to dive over in the 12th minute 4m in from the corner flag. Conversion unsuccessful, score 10-0.

Bradford then did not help themselves, failing to send the ball 10m forward on the restart.  The Eagles took the 10m, then on the fifth play starting 8m out 20m in from the right touchline, first receiver Parker took the ball forward, drew the defence, passed the ball back inside to Brennan who side-stepped a way through a gap to crash over early in the 16th minute 10m to the right of the posts. Conversion successful for 16-0.

From the kick restart the Eagles then put in a sumptuous set beginning on the left 10m out from their own line. Four plays progressed the ball back to the centre, then onward on the right with strong forward drives by Swann, Brennan and Auger.  On the fifth play starting 35m out, the ball went from first receiver Palmer out the back to fullback Judd, who in turn passed the ball over the oncoming tackler into the hands of left centre Fisher. Fisher then cleverly sold a dummy to the advancing winger, stepping inside and moving further on to ship the ball out to Thomas, who yet again raced on from 10m out and 5m in from touch, whilst shrugging off the covering defenders to dive over and score again early in the 19th minute. Sublime! A try that deserved a conversion, but a difficult one and unfortunately unsuccessful, score 20-0.

From the restart the Eagles then swept up field again, only for ruck interference on the blind side to the referee to be seen as a lost ball. A brief spell of possession to Bradford then followed, only for the Eagles to return on to the attack.  This time it petered out with a lost ball in an incomplete tackle in a drop on, after the initial tackler fell off.

Bradford then put in a complete set with a last tackle kick. The Eagles responding by returning up field, forcing a goal line dropout and another repeat set.  A poor dropout was compounded by offside defence granting the Eagles a tap penalty 5m out 10m in from the right touchline.  Straight from the tap, the ball went into the hands of Brennan, whose consistently impressive footwork, power and strength forced a route through a gaggle of forwards to crash over in the 29th minute 10m to the right of the posts. Converted by Green for a 26-6 lead.

The restart was fluffed with the ball rolling feebly to a halt millimetres short of the 10m line, being observed comically like a crown green bowling play approaching the jack.  The Eagles swept up field again from the tap penalty, but retaliation at marker interference invited a penalty, and the ball back into Bradford’s hands.  That didn’t go far with a dominant tackle by Palmer and Sayles forcing a spilt ball picked up by Fisher for a seven tackle set.  The fourth play should have brought a try out left but a flat pass didn’t quite go to hand causing a knock-on with the line at mercy.  Bradford possession didn’t last long again following a high tackle that brought the Eagles to 10m out and 10m in from the right touchline.  Three forward drives condensed the defence, then on the next play Parker sold a dummy to an onrushing defender and weaved a way over  to score in the 36th minute 10m to the left of the posts. Conversion unsuccessful for 30-0.

An early knock-on after the kick restart invited Bradford to have a go.  Firstly the Bradford worked the ball to their right in four plays which the Eagles defended.  The ball then went most of the way across the field from right to left into the winger’s hands, who was bundled into touch by the Eagles cover defence just shy of the try line to make that the final play of the half.

Half-time: Sheffield Eagles Women 30-0 Bradford Bulls Women

As was the case last week half-time provided a change in the nature of the game.  In Bradford’s case, it sparked a substantial improvement in performance.  For the Eagles it sparked a resolute defensive effort to keep the score against to nil, whereas Bradford began to move the ball about, constantly changing the point of attack but with a very much reduced error count.  The extra pressure also forced the Eagles into conceding some penalties.  When in possession, the Eagles countered but they too were unable to make a breakthrough.  And so this carried on for the next thirty minutes of the half with both sides trading sets and both unable to quite finish off with a score.

In the 69th minute things suddenly changed.  A last tackle kick from Bradford was retrieved on the Eagles try line by Clarke.  Clarke then weaved, stepped and raced 82m up the middle right of the field, eventually brought down by the chasing defensive pack, who conceded a penalty for high contact in the process.  From the tap Exley brought play close to the posts.  A play out left with a superbly flighted overhead cutout pass should have been shipped on to the two unmarked players out left enabling a simple walk-in, especially when you already have a 30 point lead with 10 minutes to go. Instead the chance was unnecessarily surrendered with a lost ball in-goal in the tackle whilst trying to force a score closer in against traffic, the result being a race back to the 30m line to defend the 20m restart and a seven tackle set.

This author’s motto: always take the easy way to 4 points. Even if you miss the conversion, it takes roughly two minutes off the clock between a try score and the kick restart.  Two minutes when the opposition cannot do anything with the ball.  Two minutes when tired bodies can suck the big ones in and not have to defend.

So off we go to the races, the Eagles defence struggling to get some shape, only for a false start with the ball not tapped on the 20m centre mark and a reprieve.  Bradford possession did not last long however, with Eagles right winger Clarke intercepting a pass but brought down in the tackle immediately afterwards, 30m out from the Bradford line.  In two plays the Eagles drove the ball to within 5m of the try line 20m in from the left touchline.  This time fast and perfect passing from four pairs of hands across a narrow space successfully edged the ball into the grip of Anderton, who squeezed over in the left corner in the 72nd minute.  Conversion unsuccessful maybe, but nevertheless 4 points accrued this time. Score 34-0.

The Bradford restart kick was fielded by Judd 12m out from the Eagles try line and promptly returned with a scything run 42m back up field.  With a roll-on the Eagles pushed on further up the left edge. Play brought the tackle to 5m out 10m to the left of the posts, with most of the Bradford defence condensed on that side.  The chance wasn’t wasted. The play the ball was shipped out the back to Parker, who moved the ball on into the hands of speeding fullback Judd, who crossed through the sparse defence to score in the 76th minute 10m in from the right touchline.  Conversion missed. Score 38-0.

The remaining minutes turned into a bit of a scrappy affair, closing out with the Eagles on the attack. Final score 38-0.

Full-time: Sheffield Eagles Women 38-0 Bradford Bulls Women


Eagles Tries: Parker (2), Brennan (2), Thomas (2), Anderton, Judd

Goals: Green (3/8)


In conclusion some entertaining play with the attack definitely becoming ever more fluid and potent.   The more impressive achievement from this author’s perspective was that the balance sheet on the deficit side was kept to nil, thanks to consistently good and resolute defence, despite coming under much pressure in the second half. Much easier to win if you don’t let the other team score in the first place.

The captain’s player of the match award went to Becca Bosworth, and the coaches’ award to Claire Fisher.