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Strong second-half effort paves way for emphatic Gloucester-Hartpury win over Lille

Strong second-half effort paves way for emphatic Gloucester-Hartpury win over Lille
Gloucester-Hartpury Women took a while to blow out the cobwebs in Saturday’s preseason friendly against Lille-Metropole at Drybrook RFC, but eventually ran in eight tries in total on their way to a 50-5 victory.

It was certainly a game of two halves. The home team took a while to hit their stride in the first half, not surprising given it was their first competitive run out. And the visitors battled hard, defending their own line in spirited fashion, forcing several turnovers near their own line.

Lille even had the audacity to take an early lead, striking from deep within their own half but, once Gloucester-Hartpury cut out the unforced errors and went into half-time with a 14-5 lead, there was only ever going to be one winner.

The visitors started to wilt in the second half, as perhaps the tackling efforts of the first half started to take its toll, especially under the hot sun. Gloucester-Hartpury started to run riot as the game progressed, and the young players getting their first run out showed real glimpses of what potential they possess.

[caption id="attachment_27939" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Bethan Lewis Bethan Lewis leading the charge (c) LNC Images[/caption]

Both teams were guilty of turning the ball over frequently in the first quarter, and the game was largely played around the halfway line. Gloucester-Hartpury did make some promising half-breaks, but couldn’t find the scoring pass.

And Lille opened the scoring with their first real attack, as they broke down the left and kept the ball alive well to finish off a fine move.

The try seemed to shock Gloucester-Hartpury into action, and the pack started to apply the squeeze as they forced several penalties near the Lille line with a yellow card eventually being shown.

Ti Tauasosi came close as she was held up over the line, but there was no stopping Ellen Murphy who darted over from close range, Daisy Fahey converting.

And when Shona Powell Hughes touched down after a well-executed catch and drive on the stroke of half-time, Ellen Murphy converting for a 14-5 lead at the break, the feeling was that the tide had turned.

So it proved in the second half. Gloucester-Hartpury made several changes, but didn’t take long to extend their lead. Beth Lewis, who was a powerful presence after the resumption, took a quick tap penalty to catch the defence napping and stormed over from 25 metres out. Murphy converted again.

Ellie Underwood showed good strength to fight her way over for the fourth try, before Lewis popped up in midfield and showed lovely hands to send Katie Thicker clear for the fifth.

Thicker then made a smart break as Lille started to tire and fall off the odd tackle, drawing the last defender and putting Underwood away for her second.

Fahey converted and then showed great skills as she chipped over the top and regathered to touch down before converting her own try.

The scoring was completed as Mia Venner made a sharp break to set up Lou Dennis and round off a comprehensive 50-5 victory.