What a transformation! A month ago the Banks Ladies looked a ragtag though game outfit. Today they rocked. They looked a different team – and indeed they appeared to have several new and more accomplished players, particularly in the backs. They ran out comfortable winners against a limited Guernsey XV.
I arrived at the scheduled start time wondering if I’d get a space in the Grainville car park. I needn’t have worried. As is usually the case with club rugby the teams and officials trot onto the pitch any old time and the few spectators drift along in the course of the match. There was no sense at all of a big inter-island occasion. It was soon evident that, behind the scrum, Banks had good ideas and the skills to implement them. The first clean ball produced a reverse pass move and soon the ball was moving across the three quarters and Guernsey were outflanked as the home side dotted down under the posts. Today Jersey had a sharp and skillful scrum half and a no.10 who could kick – at least out of hand. Guernsey’s heavy scrum had the Banks pack buckling but never crumbling. Once the Banks back row found a way of coping with the pressure there was rarely a moment when Guernsey threatened. Once Banks had the ball they stretched the Guernsey defence continuously.
15-0 at half time. The pattern continued in the second half. I take credit for the Banks fifth – and best -try. The little no.9 picked up from the base of the scrum and set off on a solo run down the right wing. She looked for non-existent support as she came by me and I shouted ‘Keep going!’ whereupon she skipped around the remaining two defenders to touch down.
The other highlight was Banks’s strong no.12 putting in a tackle that Tuilagi would have been proud of, late on in the game. Great performance and result for the local girls. The Guernsey ladies and their noisy coaches sent home to think again.
A couple of further observations. Why, at every stoppage, are all the coaches (three from Guernsey) allowed onto the pitch to issue instructions to their huddled team? Second, no medical cover on either side. In this day and age surely teams should have a physio or at least a first aider – rugby is a bruising sport and a fair share of injuries can and do occur. Today one of the Guernsey team thought she’d cracked a rib but no one knew what to do about it. Eventually she returned to the fray.