Cheltenham Ladies travelled down to Premiership outfit Bristol on Sunday in a much anticipated cup match. Cheltenham had been unbeaten all season, but knew this would be the toughest game yet.
The Tiger ladies started the stronger team and put some impressive phases together in the first 5 minutes. This then led to a breakthrough form Meg Lavill, who was running outstanding lines all afternoon, hit a gap and showed her pace to run in for the first score. Emma Mundy converted which took the score to 7-0 after as many minutes.
Bristol then enjoyed a purple patch of territory and possession and after an impressive defensive set from the Tigers; Bristol eventually broke through and got onto the score sheet. Playing into a strong wind, Cheltenham were pinned in their half for most of the remainder of the first half and the Bristol 12 made them pay with some strong carries and line breaks, which led to 2 further scores , taking the score to 15-7 just before the break. However it was Cheltenham who got the final word of the half with again some impressive ball retention, going from our own 22 with 8 phases of play that finally led to a break by Bryony Narbeth who raced in for the 2nd score. The half time whistle blew with the score at 15-14 and it all to play for in the second half.
In the second half, the balance tipped several times with some strong attacks from both teams. For the Tigers, there were strong forward carries from Rebecca Trist and Emily Kingston and Jo Hurd and Emma Mundy making gains out wide. Bristol were first to get on the score sheet with their 12, who again powered through the midfield to score under the posts. The conversion was good taking it to 22-14.
Cheltenham managed to get some possession and territory and made it count with Emma Mundy going over for an unconverted try in the corner. Bristol then turned the screw, as you would expect from a well drilled premiership side and had the lion share of possession for the remainder of the half. They scored again taking it to 27-19. With 3 minutes to play the tigers were all but out of the game but Laura Hale took a penalty quickly in her own 22 which saw her race into the Bristol half and the ball was recycled quickly and Bryony Narbeth was able to go over for her 2nd try of the day. It was converted and the score was 27-26. There was time for one last play and Cheltenham had their heads up and felt they could have sneaked a win. However the game ended in a rather anti climatic fashion with Bristol cleverly not putting the ball 10 metres from the restart and the referee blowing for the scrum – which there was no time for. The final score was 27-26. This took Bristol to top of Pool 3 in the senior cup. However Cheltenham are nowhere near out of the cup as they have a possible 10 points to play for due to a postponed game before Christmas, so they are still able to top the table to progress to the quarter finals.
The girls return to league action on Sat 13th January with a home game against Hove and will be sure to take the many positives from this week and hopefully maintain their unbeaten record in the league format.