<strong><u>Wimbledon 26-10 Harlequin Ladies</u><br />Friendly<br />Sunday 7th March 2004</strong>
Harlequin Ladies travelled to Wimbledon last Sunday (7th March) for a friendly game in preparation for their forthcoming run of league fixtures. Wimbledon sportingly bolstered Quins' numbers and both teams were happy to play with 13 players, writes Vicky Gallagher.
Ten minutes into the game, Wimbledon opened the scoring as scrum half Karen Lea broke off the back of a maul and ran down the blind side for the opening try. This was successfully converted by Ainsley Dore. The home side continued to dominate the game with Quins failing to find their form. Wimbledon's defence was solid and the visitors were unable to gain any meaningful penetration as they were constantly pinned in their own half. Wimbledon converted all this pressure into points and Quins disorganisation was highlighted by Lea's second try, which came from a quick lineout.
The second half started in much the same vein as the first, with Quins still failing to fulfill their potential. Although the visitors' defence was getting stronger, Wimbledon again crossed the line when number eight Jen Van der Eem picked up from the base of the scrum and angled her run to score under the posts, with a further two points added by Dore.
This proved to be the kick-start required by Harlequins as their standard rose after this, with fly half Saskia Brazier-Kobus leading the tackle count and creating gaps in attack. Although Quins played much better 50 minutes into the game, this did not stop Wimbledon from showing their sharp handling skills in the backs and outside centre Catherine Fox ran down the touchline from Quins twenty-two to score a converted try.
Pinning the home side into their own half, Quins began to put pressure on Wimbledon and used good attacking plays from their lineout's whenever Wimbledon kicked their way out of danger. With two crash ball centres available, Laura Quinn and Laura Coy battered through first tackles and it was a very determined home defence which kept them at bay. However, Wimbledon's clean sheet was not to last the entire game as prop Chevonne Rennison stripped the ball in a maul as it collapsed inside the in-goal area and was able to get downward pressure for Quins' first points.
Quins took the game to their opponents after this and used the strength of their forwards and some angled runs from their backs to put Wimbledon under a great deal of pressure. Rennison came close to scoring again at the back of one of many fine Quins' rolling mauls but was held-up over the line. From the resulting scrum, back row Vicky Gallagher powered over for the last points of the game. Quins man-of-the-match deservedly went to Brazier-Kobus.
Quins will need to regroup and increase their concentration levels if they are to improve their league position and look to enter the end of season play-offs.
The Harlequin Ladies Under 16 side also played a friendly on Sunday, against Medway at home, with the score being a 33-5 victory to the visitors. The score was not reflective of the match which gave Quins the opportunity to give many of their new players valuable game time.
Harlequins fan Ed Atkin won the Etihad Airways 'Up and Under' competition at the Northampton Saints game. As a result, he and a friend have won a holiday to Abu Dhabi courtesy of Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.