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Ealing Trailfinders Women v Leicester Tigers (Allianz Cup) – Sunday, April 21, kick-off 2pm



A tough visit to London sees Leicester Tigers come up short against Trailfinders Women. The visitors had come back into the game after a tough opening 15 minutes but a difficult second half and subsequent yellow card meant the hosts ran away with it in the end.

It’s a chilly day down south as the game gets underway and the hosts get on top early, dominating possession but for the occasional flicker from Leicester.

A superb steal from Zoe Warrington at the breakdown allows Tigers to clear their lines through Sarah Nicholas after just a handful of minutes. A couple of minutes later, a similar steal after a vital cover tackle by Becky Noon, allows Amy Relf to thunder a box kick up field and briefly alleviate the danger.

However, having enjoyed the lions share of possession, the pressure was eventually going to tell and around the seven-minute mark the hosts get the opening score. Having ceded a penalty just outside their own 22, the ball is promptly kicked to touch and the rolling maul gets set to rumble. Trailfinders set and drive over through hooker Lindelwa Gwala for the game’s opening score.

Moments later, there’s a strong double tackle in midfield by Charlotte Fray and Roisin McBrien but the hosts again find space out wide. Full back Amanda Swartz pulls off a great cover tackle before a subsequent drive is held up.

At the second time of asking though, the hosts get their second, Shya Pinnock hitting a hard line from an offload out wide to cut back in and barrel over.

Tigers first opportunity comes around the 15-minute mark, straight from a set piece. The scrum is rock solid and Swartz hits a big fend to step into space and nearly forge a chance wide, the pass just going awry.

Now Leicester begin to gather momentum, the side’s attacking gameplan visible with successive carries from Zoë Evans, Fray and Morgan Richardson as the Tigers offloading game is in full flow and they advance to the hosts line. They win a penalty just metres out, which is taken short, Ofure Ugiagbe carrying hard.

Tigers in their groove now and they get their first try of the game here. Churchy Knight leads the way with a show and go resulting in a big carry to fly over the gainline before the ball is whipped wide by Relf, Swartz executing the final pass to put Evans into space, the wing having the pace to accelerate into the corner.

With the wind up them, Tigers come again; Charlotte Daley chases down a kick in a dangerous area and halts Trailfinders momentum. They look to play quickly but a pop up to a support runner gives Katie Childs a chance to for a thunderous shot that ends momentum before it can begin.

The two sides trade possession back and forth, two strong defences stifling the hard lines that are flying in from all over the park whilst the speed of the defensive line ensures both sides are frequently exiting via the boot.  

In what commentators would call ‘a real chess match between the two sides’, the final fifteen minutes of the half see both sides struggling to breach the centre of the field.

Half time score: Trailfinders Women 14 – 5 Leicester Tigers

As the second half begins, however, the momentum garnered from the second half of the first period is lost. The hosts are relentless.

Firstly, Team GB 7s star Abi Burton hits an inside line off 10 and flies through a gap to score.

Tigers then enjoy their best spell of the second half, setting a rampaging rolling maul that rumbles all the way from the halfway line to the opposition 22.

The ball is stolen just before they can get to the line but Roisin McBrien is up rapidly to steal it back, intercepting a pass. Tigers look to play quickly and exploit the space but Nicholas’ grubber through finds Rosie Inman.

With massively broken field ahead after several turnovers in succession, the fullback breaks from deep in her own half and scores.

The third try of the second 40 sees a massive shot from McBrien from the kick off; however, a minute later, space is exploited wide before a teasing kick through from Ellie Green is collected by Liz Musgrove to score in the corner.

Trailfinders now have the wind behind them and Tigers misery is compounded as McBrien is shown a yellow card. The flanker attempted the same big shot from kick off but was, on this occasion, a moment too soon and the referee shows her to the sin bin.

The pressure continues relentlessly. Tigers show admirable effort with just 14 women on the field but eventually, just shy of the 10 minute sin bin, Trailfinders score another through scrum half Emma Swords. The hosts were building incrementally toward the line and the 9 spots a gap and stretches to dive over and touch down.

To finish, 7s star Burton then completes her hat trick, touching down in near-identical fashion, hard lines in midfield exploiting tired legs and gaps in the defensive line.

A bruising day at the office for Leicester Tigers, the side now have three weeks to lick their wounds and prepare for a return to Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby action on Saturday, May 11.

Final score: Trailfinders Women 54 – 5 Leicester Tigers

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