It was a historic night for Hills Touch on Friday night, as the Hornets No.1 Women’s team took to the field for their first game in Premier League. They were up against the Northern Beaches Renegades – a team entering their 3rd season of premier league.
No one really gave the Hornets a chance. Newly promoted teams are not supposed to challenge established premier league teams.
The first 5 minutes of the game saw a clearly nervous Hornets outfit making uncharacteristic errors trying to get out of their own end. It was providing the Renegades with plenty of attacking opportunities. Thankfully, the Hornets defence was good enough to answer all the questions being asked.
It wasn’t until the 8th minute that the Renegades finally broke the defence down to score their first touchdown. When the Renegades scored again 2 minutes later, it looked like it might be a case of the Hornets putting up a good fight, but class is now going to finish over the top of them.
If that was the script, then the Hornets suck at learning their lines.
The early nerves had now dissipated, along with the clunkiness in attack. Suddenly the free-flowing running touch from last season started to emerge.
At the 16th minute mark, the Hornets started a set of six in their own half and with some excellent rucking and ball movement they found themselves in the Renegades red zone. Young Gun Jade Pond, only 2 weeks after her 16th birthday, scooped from dummy half and found Em Myers on her wing. With a step inside that would make Shaun Johnson proud, Myers beat her winger before diving full length to get the Hornets first try in Premier League.
The score was now 2-1, and the Hornets had been transformed by a little something called self-belief.
Now the Renegades were committing errors on the back of relentless pressure from the Hornets defence.
With the game approaching half time, it was Pond again who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. Pond performed a short side quickie on her opposing link, before diving between 2 renegades defenders to score another Hornets try.
As the teams walked off at halftime locked up at 2-2, anyone who thought that the Hornets Women didn’t belong in Premier League were now re-evaluating.
The 2nd half started fast and furious, and after only 3 minutes, the Renegades got through from dummy half before finding an unmarked player to take the score to 3-2.
The game then went into an end to end arm wrestle with both sides missing opportunities to score. With just 3 minutes to go, new recruit Jordie Parsonage took the defence on with another quickie, and dived through offside defenders for the Hornets 3rd touchdown.
With under 3 minutes to go and the scoreboard showing 3-3, the shell shocked Renegades tapped off and worked the ball towards the Hornets try line. The Hornets were defending well, but the referee was finding penalties against the Hornets. When the referee blew the 3rd penalty in a row, a Hornets player was forced to sit out the next set of 6. With 60 seconds left on the clock, the Hornets were going to have to fight this one out with just 5 players.
In an inspiring defensive effort, the 5 remaining Hornets worked their butts off to prevent the Renegades from scoring. Take a bow Simone Rodgers, Claire Eisenhuth, Paris Mooney, Jade Pond and Caitlin May Glanville (and a sub box full of Hornets screaming their lungs out).
With 6 Hornets back on the park they worked the ball back into the Renegades half but unfortunately time ran out.
As the siren sounded, a fairy tale victory didn’t eventuate, but if there is such a thing as a fairy tale draw, this was it.
There were smiles all round as the pride of Hills Hornets walked off the field. Coach Craig Beacroft even managed to crack a smile.
“It was a great team effort for our first game.” said Beacroft
“There a lot of new faces and young faces, and I was pleasantly surprised how well they all worked together as a team so early in the season”
“We will enjoy the moment tonight, but we still have a lot of work to do if we are going to compete against the heavy weights in this division”
Indeed. The Hornets come up against last season’s Vawdon Cup Grand Finalists, the Sydney Roosters in the next round.
No doubt a tough assignment, but the undeniable spirit of this team will carry them a long way.