Ashford put brakes on Valkyries

Dave Wheaton and the Fareham Heathens. Picture: Neil Marshall (171152-317)

Double trouble for heroic Heathens

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Ashford have put a dent in Portsmouth Valkyries’ impressive start to the campaign.

Buoyed by their stunning 21-5 triumph over Jersey on the opening day of the season, the city outfit came crashing back to earth with a frustrating 0-0 draw on home turf.

Despite dominating possession throughout the encounter, the Valkyries faltered in the final third.

Amid soaring temperatures, the young and well-drilled Ashford defence withstood the heat of the home side’s pressure.

Portsmouth’s best attack on the tryline came in the first half from centre Hannah Bennett.

However Bennett, who was later named back-of-the-match, was prevented from finishing her powerful run due to controversial stoppage in play by the referee.

The scare simply served to galvanise the visitors, who showed little signs of breaking for the remainder of the game.

The Valkyries, though, showed a lot of grit.

They turned in some fantastic work to prevent Ashford putting any points on their scoresheet themselves – including a couple of try-saving tackles from wing Anna Warren and blindside centre Danni Burgess.

The Valkyries set-pieces were working particularly well in the sweltering conditions, with forward-of-the-match Jill Kempton making a real impact at hooker.

Captain Sophie Exton was happy with the overall determination of the team.

She praised them for continuing to press forward despite the tough playing conditions.

And also saluted the increased fitness of the team, which saw all the players able to deal with the heat and maintain a relatively impenetrable defence during a tough match.