It was a windy Sunday Afternoon (and that wasn't just being positioned behind the front row) when the Ravens took on Guildford Gazelles for the first time in the latest round of the National Cup.
With an unusually smooth pre-match prep that didn't involve boot cleaning or closed clubhouses, the Ravens were raring to go and take on an unknown challenge.
After a small blip at the start of the game, that saw Guildford run in under the posts catching the Raven's off guard, the Ravens began to assert themselves and proved their extreme might in the scrum.
Not losing possession, the Ravens crashed their way up field, piling the pressure on the Gazelles' defense. Ravens were winning breakdown after breakdown, preventing the turnover and getting clean ball to another barrage of pods. The Ravens soon found themselves on the opposition 5-metre, and got a little bit wet at the thought of a try.
The Ravens found themselves just a metre from the try line, with Izzy, Steph and Muggy all trying to score but each time just falling short. The pressure and nerves mounted and the Ravens lost their composure and the ball. It was turned over and the exit was made by the opposition kicker. With Raven's worn from the constant battering, they found it hard to get back with the kick, and despite some fantastic tackles from Tia and Amy, the opposition were under the posts again.
Following a knock on from the kick off, the Ravens won a scrum and were back in the opposition half again, determined to get back to where they were. With multiple pick and gos, the forwards were at it again, forcing themselves up the pitch.
The improvements in the Ravens' attacking strategy was clear, securing ball at the breakdown as well as breaking the gain line each time. Like deja vu, the Ravens couldn't quite keep composure to get under the posts, and the opposition capitalised on errors scoring again.
At half time the Raven's knew they had the stronger pack and were dominating in the physical areas of the game, but were eager to convert their efforts into points.
The Ravens won an early line out and started to asset their physicality in the maul, driving the Gazelles up the field like they weren't even there. It wasn't long before a scrum came under the opposition uprights and the Ravens had belief in their ability from this position.
With a strong shove from the outset the Ravens drove the Gazelles together, with Tash at 8 controlling the ball from behind. Soon the scrum was into the try area leading Muggy at scrum half to pick the ball and ground it over the line.
Ravens gained confidence from this but with serious concerns about their scrum, the Guildford Coach made substitutions and switched around their pack to finally counter the Raven's physicality.
It worked for a time and the Ravens were no longer dominating in the pack. With the opposition getting more clean ball out to their back, not even the backs' fantastic tackling could stop the Gazelles from racing over the line again and again.
Nearing the end of the world's longest half, the Ravens were in possession again and in the Gazelles' 22. Pods continued to batter the opposition when a quick ball to the backs was called. Liv at 10 received a clean ball from muggy, taking a cross field kick to get the ball out to Tia on the wing. Receiving the ball, Tia was soon knocked into touch and the ball was turned over.
After kicking the ball up field and into touch, the ref call time, giving the Gazelles victory and knocking the Ravens out of the cup competition.
Forward of the Match went to Amanda who is improving every week and made some brilliant tackles and was strong when carrying the ball.
Back of the Match went to honorary forward Muggy, who continues to tackle fantastically, play great heads up rugby and score the forward's tries!
Huge thanks go to Tia's Mum, Gina, for filming, Kayleigh for taping us together at short notice, to Mummy Muggy for feeding us some delicious curry, Mikey for taking photos and for everyone who came to support.
Our next match is on Sunday 5th March against Chesham. We hope you can continue to support us!