The Saints travelled to Chesham after a convincing win at the start of the season but having had some recently frustrating results undermining their performances. Chesham have had an upturn in fortunes and were a far improved side to the one played against earlier in the year.
From the off OAs felt the pressure up front where the battle was ferocious at every breakdown and at scrum time. Chesham were far more well drilled and threw bodies into the rucks trying to spoil the ball, to some effect. On a pitch suited for a slow game and playing up the hill, OAs suffered in the first half for both territory and possession. Out of the blue and seemingly under very little pressure, the Saints line broke and a Chesham player ran in untouched from 40m out, scoring the first try of the game.
This kick started the visitors and the game became more confrontational, some very aggressive 1-1 defence and breakdown work from Steph Leddington, Kate Barnes and Charlotte Fredrickson in the pack set the standard. In the backs, captain Robyn King and Katie Robertson took the ball to the gain line and found success with this direct approach, the momentum slowly shifting towards OAs. In the final 10 mins of the first half, highly skilled play involving the whole team saw multiple phases put together wearing Chesham down. Coming close to scoring a try a few times, the Saints’ patience was rewarded with a kickable penalty, Robertson duly stepped up and put Saints on the board to make it 5-3.
The second half saw the introduction of Emma Cramphorn at tighthead prop and the scrum quickly became a dominant platform enabling the visitors backs were able to attack and defend from the front foot. This meant the game was a far more even contest and slowly the home side cracked and began to make many more errors in all phases. Another defensive system error led to a line break for Chesham, who quickly recycled the ball before making the score 10-3.
After launching further strikes into the Chesham half, OAs continued with their frustrating lack of ruthlessness allowing try scoring opportunities to go un-punished. Despite concerted pressure and going close on several occasions, Saints were left without a try and losers on the day.
Forward of the match was awarded to Cramphorn who came off the bench to add power in the tight and dynamism in the loose. Back of the match was given to Robertson at fly half, who maintains her high level of personal performance and giving the whole team direction.
The Saints welcome Hampstead to Woollams for the final league game of the season on Sunday 20th March.