Nottingham Outlaws entertained Wigan St Patricks in a Women’s National League One match at Lenton Lane on Sunday. In a dominant display the Outlaws proved too strong and too fast for their illustrious visitors, running out 24-14 winners and in doing they avenged an early season defeat at the hands of the Lancastrians as well as giving their play-off chances a huge boost.
Straight from the kick off the Outlaws looked faster and more mobile than the visiting side and within five minutes they opened the scoring when Hannah Crowdy crossed the line for a great solo effort and a 4-0 lead to the Outlaws.
Within minutes the Outlaws lead doubled when Georgia Bradley added a carbon copy try to make it 8-0 to the home team in as many minutes.
Indeed, for most of the first half the Wigan side could hardly get over the halfway line with great defence from Violet Coppin, Vanessa Humphreys and Vicki Harvey in particular standing out as they made little headway against a no-nonsense home defence.
With the upper hand in possession and field position it came as no surprise when the Outlaws added to their lead with Leah Charles scoring the try of the game when she pounced on a loose ball and swept up the pitch in a sixty metre foot race, beating three players before planting the ball down under the sticks. Robyn Gulley added the extras from bang in front and the lead stretched to 14-0.
For the remainder of the half the Outlaws peppered the Wigan line in search of more scores but their over-eager play meant they spurned a few good scoring chances when calmer heads might of yielded better reward.
However the Wigan side couldn’t hold out for ever and on the stroke of halftime Leah Martin finally got the score the Outlaws deserved with a great finish that Gulley converted to make it 20-0 to the Outlaws at the interval.
The Outlaws were well in command when the second half kicked off but perhaps a combination of over confidence and some much better play by the visitors meant that the second stanza was a much more even affair. As the half progressed it was St Patricks who were asking more and more questions of the Outlaws defence. Indeed an Outlaws error in their red zone gifted possession to the visitors who promptly opened their account to reduce the deficit to 20-4. Then, two minutes later the visitors doubled their tally to make it 20-8 resulting in more than a few nervous looks on the home supporters faces!
As the Outlaws struggled to make headway it looked like the game might be about to swing away from them and they needed some inspiration from somewhere. Fortunately they found it in the shape of Robyn Gulley who latched onto a pass 20 metres out and with an unstoppable surge went over in the corner despite the attention of two defenders.
At 24-8 the game was effectively in the bag and whilst a late Wigan try reduced the lead to 24-12 but it was too little too late and the Outlaws saw out the remainder of the game and in doing so recorded an excellent 24-12 victory.
At the end of the match, as the team waited for the Player of the Match there were plenty of candidates for the coaching staff to pick from. Leah Charles, Vanessa Humphrey, Rhiz Lord and Ella Dews all came close with great performances but it was Elodie Fleet that took home the bubbly with a great performance on attack and defence.