Women's Grand Final
West London Sharks 34 Southampton Spitfires 36
West London Sharks Women's team were left heart broken after second rower Karen Honeygold touched down in the 79th minute to give the Southampton Spitfires Women's team their first ever Grand Final win yesterday (Sat 11th Aug).
The Spitfires started strongly and were first to score when half back Lisa Suffling created space for full back Stacey White to break the line and score under the posts. Suffling added the easy conversion to give the Spitfires a 6-0 lead.
The Sharks struck back after back to back penalties gave the West London side excelent field position and from this the Sharks forward powered over next to the posts to score and the conversion was added making it 6-6.
Next on the score sheet were the Spitfires when Donna Rose crashed over from close range to make the lead 10-6, Suffling again was on form with the boot to extend the scoreline to 12-6.
Once again the Sharks hit back and once again the Spitfires had gifted them excellent field position from errors, allowing the Sharks to move the ball wide for a score near the corner flag. The difficult conversion was missed leaving Southampton still in the lead at 12-10.
The Sharks responded strongly and once again poor ball control from the Spitfires allowed West London the ball 20 meters from the Spitfires line. The ball was again spread wide and despite great goal line defence from Southampton the Sharks attacking player managed to ground the ball over the line, making the score 14-12 in the Sharks favour.
The Spitfires dug deep and hard running back-rower Marie Hollingsworth showed great skill when hitting and spinning out of the tackle to score by the posts. Suffling was as accurate as ever giving the Spitfires a 18-12 lead just before the break.
However the see-saw action continued when West London Sharks retaliated once again. A Spitfires error handed them the ball close to the line and poor defence this time allowed West London to score out wide. The conversion was missed missing leaving the game tied at 18 all at the break.
The Sharks started the second half better but by the 50th minutes there was still no score as the Spitfires defence held tight. However a poor completion rate from both sides saw the teams starting to tire.
The Sharks took advantage of the Spitfires fatigued defensive line and broke through for two quick tries this time both converted by the West London stand-off making the score 30-18 in the Sharks favour after 60 minutes.
With the Spitfires staring down a 12 point deficit and the clock ticking away they needed to score next in order to give themselves any hope and Marie Hollingsworth obliged with a carbon copy of her first try to make the score 30-22 to the Sharks. Suffling missed the extras, kicking into an increasingly blustery wind.
With 20 minutes to play the Sharks still held an eight point advantage. Southampton needed a bit of luck to swing the momentum their way and they got that when West London knocked on near the half way line. From the resulting scrum and set of six stand-off Holly Myers broke free and sprinted 60 meters to score under the post making the conversion a formality. Suffling improved the score and suddenly the Spitfires where in touching distance again at 30-28.
The Sharks then scored arguably the try of the game as their loose forward broke from the scrum and sprinted 80 meters for a brilliant solo score which extended West London's lead to six points with 15 minutes to play (34-28).
If the Spitfires were going to win this game they had to score next and prop-forward Donna Rose stepped up to grab a vital try, again from close range. Again the windy conditions saw the conversion attempt drop short leaving the Sharks still in the lead at 34-32.
With less than 10 minutes to go the Spitfires were looking for a game breaking play and even declined an easy penalty kick on 73 minutes which would have levelled the score and maybe forced extra time. This tactic wasn't an option for the determined Spitfires who continued to pile on the pressure with attack after attack probing the Sharks strong goal defence.
Marie Hollingsworth looked to have settled the game but her 77th minute attempt was ruled out for being held up over the line and the Sharks looked to have done enough to earn the win, they simply needed to close the game out for the remaining two and a half minutes. However on the turn-over of possession a Sharks knock on at the play the ball gave the Spitfires one more chance and when the ball was spun wide to second rower Karen Honeygold she wrote the club's name into the record books, smashing her way over to ground the ball despite the attention of several floundering Sharks defenders. The Spitfires lead 36-34 with less than a minute remaining.
Suffling just missed the conversion but a safe set of six from the restart brought the game to an end leaving the Sharks heartbroken and the Spitfires victorious champions in an unbeaten first league season.
FT Southampton Spitfires 36 - 34 West London Sharks
Women of the Match - Lisa Suffling
Play of the Day - Holly Myers 60 meter effort