Photos by David ConroyFirst published Widnesvikings.co.uk
History was made on Sunday when Widnes Vikings fielded a women’s team for the first time, and they came incredibly close to snatching the points in the dying minutes before finally succumbing to Leigh Miners Rangers 28-20.
Miners started the game camped on the Widnes line but tremendous goal-line defence kept them out. However, the pressure eventually told and centre Kellie Gray scored out wide to give them a four point lead.
Widnes slowly grew into the game but were dealt a blow when the impressive Jenny Moss suffered an injury which would keep her from competing until the second half. Demi-Lea Fisher went close as Widnes threatened to draw level but when they did, the try was worth waiting for.
Captain Sammi Simpson collected the ball in the middle of the field 70 metres out. She ran across to the touchline and then straightened up to leave the defence floundering in her wake for a magnificent score.
This didn’t deter Miners, and despite some heroic Widnes defence, they managed to score two further tries from Gray, who collected her second, and Kath Organ. Another try looked certain but a great Fisher tackle saved the day and the teams went into the break with Miners leading 12-4.
Half-Time: Leigh Miners Rangers 12-4 Widnes Vikings
Jenny Moss returned to the field for the second half, but in the opening minutes, Widnes lost Laura Godwyn-Outten to a shoulder injury.
The disruption didn’t prevent them reducing the arrears and once again it was Simpson who scored. The Miners forwards were relentless throughout the game and Celia Farrimond scored her side’s fourth try which Leanne Johnson converted. Eleanor Dainty made it 22-8 with 20 minutes left and with Johnson converting, the game looked over for Widnes, especially when losing Cat McGarrie with a nasty looking shoulder knock.
However, the fightback started. Simpson scored another good try to complete her hat trick, and when the influential Megan Jackson took Widnes to 10 metres short of the line, Kia Doyle went over from close range to make it 24-16.
On 77 minutes, Simpson scored her fourth of the game when she left the Miners defence clutching at straws and now there was only four points in it. The fairytale however wasn’t to be and Miners scored the final try when Catherine Watt went over from the play the ball.
When considering that some of the players had never played a competitive game of rugby before, and some had never touched a rugby ball until six weeks ago, this was a tremendous effort. With captain Sammi Simpson scoring four tries and vice captain Nic Postlethwaite leading from the front, this was a fantastic team effort and bodes well for the future.
Full-Time: Leigh Miners Rangers 28-20 Widnes Vikings
Leigh Miners Rangers: Leanne Johnson, Genna Banks, Keli Morris, Kellie Gray, Anna Croft, Rachael Ogden, Mairead Quinn, Megan Eastwood, Clare Radford, Sarina Tamou, Vicky Rosevere, Kath Organ. SUBS: Dawn Eaton, Eleanor Dainty, Catherine Watt, Nikki Varley, Jessica Wolstenhulme, Megan Short.
Tries: Gray 2, Dainty, Farrimond, Organ, Watt.
Goals: Johnson 2/6
Widnes Vikings: Demi-Lea Fisher, Georgina Barnard, Laura Godwyn-Outten, Alisha Lea, Olivia Barnard, Jenny Moss, Megan Jackson, Casey Naylor, Catherine McGarrie, Nicholette Postlethwaite, Kia Doyle, Emma Dobson, Sammi Simpson. SUBS: Katie Hopwood, Olivia Miah, Sarah Bazley-Harrison, Catherine Bazley-Harrison, Nina Martin.
Tries: Simpson 4, Doyle.
Goals: Fisher 0/4