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Match Report | Women defeated by Featherstone in Betfred Women's Challenge Cup


By Barry Wood

Sheffield Eagles Women travelled to Featherstone Rovers for this Challenge Cup tie with a degree of confidence that they could give a good account of themselves against an established and experienced upper tier side, and so it proved.

For six minutes both sides traded sets and errors, but a play the ball error conceded a scrum to Rovers 12m out from the Eagles try line.  Rovers worked the ball out to their right edge then back in again. They then took advantage of Eagles forwards out of position on the third play for prop Mannion to force a way over 3m to the left of the posts in the 7th minute, converted by Smith for a Rovers lead of  6-0.

For the next eight minutes the sides traded sets and penalties until a strong set from the Eagles took them within 8m of the Rovers try line on the last.  A grubber kick across the posts by Palmer bounced wickedly over a defender, fortuitously into the hands of the on-rushing Green, who crashed over under the posts in the 15th minute, converting her own try to level the scores at 6-6.

In the 18th minute an Eagles  break down the left by Green was offloaded to Judd, the play coming to a halt in front of the left post, but the opportunity was squandered by stepping over at the play the ball.

In the 22nd minute the Eagles were awarded a penalty 14m out from the Rovers try line for taking the kicker out. Unfortunately a 5 v 3 opportunity on the left went unrecognised 1m out, the ball going right from the play the ball only to be knocked on over the line.

The Eagles then seemed to lose defensive concentration enabling Rovers to march 70m up field from the 20m restart.  A fluffed last tackle kick enabled the Eagles to regain composure.  For the next eleven minutes the sides traded sets and errors with the Eagles also conceding the odd penalty, both sides having to put in some goal line defence at times. Eventually Rovers found themselves on the right 10m from the Eagles try line. The Eagles didn’t spot the emerging 3 v 2 overload, Rovers winger Lamb going over in the corner in the 34th minute, conversion unsuccessful for a score of 10-6.  And so the score remained with a promising Eagles attack well into the Rovers half being thwarted by the half time whistle.

Half-time: Featherstone Rovers Women 10 – 6 Sheffield Eagles Women

Much promise therefore that the Eagles could put up a fight in the second half.  However after a good start things began to degrade.  Irregular defensive shapes by the Eagles left repeated gaps to be exploited, with Rovers prop Mellor-Churm eventually crashing over in the 43rd minute 10m to the right of the posts, converted by Bryer for 16-6.

The Eagles then resisted for ten minutes, but they also squandered two opportunities to score neglecting overlaps, firstly on the left then a cast iron chance on the right.  Ultimately Rovers responded moving the Eagles about the pitch.  A succession of missed tackles enabled Rovers to go deep down their right, dragging the Eagles defence across. Naturally a shift left followed and Watt crossed through the sparse defence in the 54th minute to bring the ball back around near the left post, converted by Bryer for 22-6.

The Eagles invited Rovers into their 10m zone from the restart with missed tackles.  Although the numbers were there, that old gotcha of turning your feet out was spotted by Rovers player Evans, who stepped off her right foot to force a way through in the 60th minute 10m to the right of the posts, conversion unsuccessful for 26-6.

And so the score remained for the next sixteen minutes, both sides making good territory, both sides either defending out the set or reprieving the other side with an error.  An error on the laws of game, followed by dissent brought the Eagles down to 12 with a sin-binning in the 70th minute.

A few minutes later, a referee call of a late tackle awarded Rovers a penalty 13m out from the Eagles try line. On the fourth play the ball found its way into the hands of Rovers prop Mellor-Churm, who powered through a tired and depleted Eagles defence to score just to the left of the posts, converted by Bryer for 32-6.

After the restart that tired defence then failed to shut the gate behind a ruck on half way, and Billington weaved a path past two more defenders, racing 50m to plant the ball down behind the posts in the last minute of the game, converted by Bryer for a final score of 38-6 followed by the full time whistle. 


Full-time: Featherstone Rovers Women 38 – 6 Sheffield Eagles Women

Rovers Tries: Mannion, Lamb, Mellor-Churm(2), Watt, Evans, Billington

Goals: Smith(1 conv), Bryer(4 conv)


Eagles Tries: Green

Goals: Green (1 conv)


In conclusion, although the score line suggests that the Eagles were heavily defeated, there were enough positives to see that with more experience , hard work, determination and attention to detail, this Eagles side can improve substantially over the coming weeks.