Portsmouth Valkyries fail in bid to inflict first defeat on Abbey Ladies - Havant remain top despite defeat

Portsmouth Valkyries suffered a heavy 45-14 National Championship Division Two South-West defeat at unbeaten Abbey Ladies.

Sunday, 5th January 2020, 7:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 5th January 2020, 7:41 pm

Valkyries coach Mark Witcher admitted his side were over-powered by their hosts.

‘It was a tough day at the office for us,’ said Witcher.

‘You can see why they are unbeaten; their defence was good and they possessed some powerful runners.

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‘In the first half, we had the lion's share of possession but the Abbey defence was strong.

‘As a result, we couldn't convert our positions into points.

‘They scored in the opening two minutes but we battled back well to only trail 12-7 at the break.’

Second row forward Rosie Staples claimed the visitors first-half try.

Portsmouth's second score came in the final few minutes through a Susan Badger interception try which she converted herself.

The visitors lost scrum half Sammy Groves, who was taken to hospital with a knee injury.

‘There are plenty of positives we can take forward,’ said Witcher.

‘The combination between backs and forwards was good to see at times.’

n Havant Ladies remain top of the Womens National Championship Division One South-East (south) - despite losing 32-23 to their closest rivals London Irish Ladies.

Head coach Dean Dryhurst wasn't too downbeat following the reverse, though.

‘I was happy with the way we played, but we did miss some good opportunities,’ said Dryhurst.

‘We've had 11 changes in the team since the first time we played them.

‘There are a few things that we need to work on.

‘Playing up the slope in the first half, we allowed London Irish to get around us.

‘In the second half, with the slope and the wind behind us, we piled on the pressure.

‘Unfortunately, we allowed them to break out and score two more tries.’

Trailing 22-0 at half time, Havant began the fightback five minutes after the turnaround.

Lucy King got the visitors on the scoreboard, running past five defenders from 45 metres out.

Newcomer Louis Warlord, playing at full-back, soon added a second try, beating three would-be tacklers with a powerful run.

Winger Steph Wyatt produced an excellent piece of opportunism for the third try.

A sliced London Irish clearance kick went back into the in-goal area and Wyatt got the touchdown just in front of the dead-ball line.

‘At that stage, the fightback looked well and truly on,' said Dryhurst.

‘London Irish were good, however, at turning over the ball and scored again as a result of that.’

Visiting captain Natasha Bullock put Havant right back in it but they couldn't quite rein the home side in.

Irish scored another try before Warlord knocked over a late penalty.