Warwick Rugby Union Women’s team beat Coventry in an enthralling Varsity match on Sunday morning. The game, already an exciting one given the fierce rivalry between the two local universities, was given added thrill since a win for Warwick would secure a 29th consecutive championship for the University as a whole.
Although the game got off to a slow start, with neither team able to secure a sustained period of possession, this certainly wasn’t a prelude for what was to follow. Despite the cagey start, it was Warwick who looked the more likely of the two teams to break the deadlock, and their pressure eventually paid off when the ball was forced over the try line mid-way through the first half. The conversion was well wide, but it was Warwick who had the lead, and Coventry were now chasing the game.
Warwick sensed the opportunity to exploit their opponent’s weakness
Coventry quickly lost their composure, and Warwick sensed the opportunity to exploit their opponent’s weakness intercepted the ball deep into their own half and launched a counterattack, leaving the entire Coventry team in their shadow, to score the second try of the game. This time the conversion was successfully made, and Warwick extended their lead to 12 points.
However, just when it looked like the game was quickly turning into a rout for Warwick, Coventry, rallied on by their vocal supporters, scored a try of their own. On the stroke of half time, some neat passes completely opened up the Warwick back line and Coventry was back in the game. 12-5 at half time.
Coventry definitely weren’t out the game
The half time chatter amongst the supporters of both teams centred around whether Coventry would seize the initiative and continue the second half as they finished the first, or whether Warwick would reassert their early dominance to move further clear of their opponents. Coventry definitely weren’t out the game but it was Warwick who scored the first points of the second period. Akin to Coventry’s first-half try, Warwick played some neat rugby to provide an opening for number 13, Hannah Monk, who utilised her pace to put Warwick 17-5 up with 30 minutes to go.
An eventful period of the game followed, with Warwick keen to slow the game down and settle for their lead, while Coventry desperately searched for an opening to force their way back into the game. On the 50th minute, the blues let their frustration get the better of them, as Coventry number 13 was shown a yellow card for a very late tackle, initiating a 10-minute sin-bin.
There was some confusion as the referee signalled a restart from the halfway line without a conversion attempt occurring
As tempers flared and the game reached its latter stages, Warwick was given a penalty try due to infringement by one of the Coventry players. There was some confusion as the referee signalled a restart from the halfway line without a conversion attempt occurring. When news reached the stands that the referee had indeed given a penalty try, putting Warwick 22 points to 12 up, Coventry fans erupted in furore, with chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ ringing in the Westwood sun. But, rather than complaining, Coventry players got straight back at it, responding almost immediately with a try of their own. With the conversion put over, Coventry were within 5 points of Warwick with minutes still to play.
Despite a nervy ending, with Coventry’s vocal fans rousing their team to try and snatch something from the game, Warwick managed to hold on. As the referee blew the final whistle, Warwick’s substitutions and fans alike sprinted onto the pitch in celebration. Despite Coventry never leading in the game, they fought till the end and may have even nicked it in the last few moments. Nevertheless, Warwick took the game 22-17, getting one over their local rivals and more importantly, winning Varsity for Warwick for the 29th consecutive time.