What a great return to rugby today for Castleford RUFC Girls with the U18s enjoying their match away at a very hospitable Old Brodleians. Both clubs’ players, coaches, parents and spectators enjoyed the game, the skills and endeavour on show, and the spirit in which the game was played. It did emphasise what the girls had missed over the past 18 months.
Out of necessity there were reduced numbers on the field but everyone wanted to be there and played their part in a keenly fought and exciting game where the scoreline did not count.
Making her debut for the U18s, Millie Gould showed her customary acceleration and finished well in the corner after a good steal by an energetic, and always committed captain, Sophie Fairhurst. Shortly afterwards, Millie added another try, speeding away and showing a clean pair of heels to run three quarters of the pitch to score. The game settled down with both defences working well but, after a flowing attack, Sophie popped up again on the left and finished well to score her first try of the afternoon. Castleford were catching their second wind and great opportunism by Melissa Howden allowed her the necessary room to score her first try of the afternoon.
The defences of both sides tackled well throughout and adapted to the newly introduced law on tackle height and its consequences for effective jackaling. Lily Williams broke a number of tackles to allow her to score the first of her pair of tries and, not to be outdone, Ruby Parker shortly stole a ball, turned swiftly and dotted down for her first try in an U18s’ shirt.
Old Brods were not daunted and their always determined captain, Gracie Mynott made a clear opening that she exploited for a try, after an incisive step inside to avoid a defender, which was a good reward for the home side’s efforts. However, throughout the match the Castleford girls used their greater experience to good effect to draw defenders, pass and release support players with great handling and one such interchange between Sophie and Melissa led to Melissa’s second try. She completed her hat trick, and an overall impressive performance, when she stole a ball and turned immediately to dive over the try line.
Abbie Millward’s opportunism was key as she took a restart kick on the full and continued to dart through defenders to score under the posts. Emily Heaps combined with other backs all the game and was unselfish throughout in her distribution. Phoebe Senior was always a threat going forward with her well-timed running lines. Lily Williams completed her haul for the day with another ball steal and run into space. The last try of the game saw Lilia Rank and Shania Lawrence seal off an attack down the right that then allowed Shania to force her way over.
The Old Brods' girls never gave up and were never dispirited with a number making their debuts and some even playing their first game of rugby. There were genuine good wishes and congratulations between the players at the end of the game and the Castleford girls look forward to the return fixture in November.