On Saturday 11th March, the Oxford Saints Women TRAVELED to Peterborough for Round 2 of the 2017 Sapphire Series 5 vs 5 Tournament
Following a 1-1 record in the opening round at Portsmouth, the Saints faced the Peterborough Royals and the Wembley Stallions in their next contest.
Travelling with a small team due to some injuries and absences, Oxford had around 8 healthy players who did a great job at performing on both offense and defense.
The smaller squad size meant there was less relief available on the sideline, but it awarded participating players with lots of game time and valuable experience.
In the practices leading up to round 2, Head Coach Adam Baker along with Offensive Coaches Luke Fry & Tony Glover prepared the team for their next challenge.
Oxford 26 – 19 Peterborough
First up was the Peterborough Royals, another new team to Women’s Football like the Saints. As the host team, they had a number of supporters in attendance along with a larger squad size.
The Saints opened the scoring quickly with wide receiver Laura White running a reverse up the sideline and nearly the whole length of the field, bringing some Peterborough defenders over the goal line with her.
A small Saints squad engaged in a back and forth with the Royals during the first half, with strong running from new player Heather Bignell and under leadership from the composed quarterback Harriet Henshall.
With Bignell and McInerney posing a a constant threat, Henshall stayed cool whilst looking for receivers, often waiting until the last possible minute to release the ball to allow her teammates to find space, supported by blocking from center Lou Robbins.
The Royals added a touchdown of their own but overall the Saints maintained the upper hand with a group effort from all involved. Defensive captain Megan Brown continued to be a dominant part of the unit contributing her solid tackling skills.
McInerney displayed her outstanding ability to find space and out-pursue her defenders, often changing direction in a heartbeat and sprinting the length of the field. This included a role on defense where she performed an unorthodox but very successful tackle!
Despite carrying an injury, Bignell proved to be a cannon ball as she charged up the field with no hesitation as she smashed into the Royals. Also playing defense, she brought pressure as she rushed the Peterborough quarter back with her dangerous acceleration.
After more back and forth, the Saints had the lead in the closing minutes of the game and claimed a 25-19 win.
Oxford 25 – 60 Wembley
The Saints went straight into their 2nd game with just a short break and were up against the talented Wembley Stallions, with double a squad size.
The feisty Oxford side had a good start but McInerney was taken down before she could take off. It wasn’t long before the Stallions got a score on the board but the Saints put up a fight and kept the scores low.
Both sides struggled with fumbles and possession was constantly switching. The deadlock broke when the Saints recovered a fumble for a touchdown. Stallions struck back fast with a touchdown but a holding call nullified their efforts.
Wembley found their rhythm and were quick to add 2 touchdowns to the scoreboard whilst the Saints struggled against the hungry Stallions defense. Henshall continued to stay calm in the pocket and looked for options but the girls in blue were unable to make considerable gains down the field.
Megan Brown stepped in on offense and was close to breaking out for a touchdown run before being tackled.
With Wembley maintaining control throughout the 2nd half of the game, there were still solid performances across the board with most the players playing both ways on offense and defense.
The Saints added another score when Henshall connected with McInerney who made her away across the field and up the sideline with speed that the Stallions couldn’t match.
The game finished with a decisive victory for Wembley but the Saints are pleased that they stayed tough throughout the game and added 4 of their own scores.
Comment from Head Coach
The women showed real grit and toughness. We played well for a team in which every player played both sides of the ball. I am excited to expand the squad and see what we can do with a larger team and the future of the Saints is to become a contender. I am proud of our 2-2 record for now but i can see a brighter future – Head Coach Adam Baker
– Megan Brown Defense MVP
– Heather Bignell Offense MVP
– Josie McInerney Team MVP
The Saints are hosting round 3 of the Sapphire Tournament on Saturday 25th March. More details coming soon.