With only 16 players (and only 6 in their correct positions) it can be a bit nerve wrecking to turn up and play the National Champs when they also have home advantage.
The nerves and self doubt were evident in the first 20 minutes as the All Blues struggled to find their game plan and settle on defence. This saw a few quick tries from AAC. However, after some encouraging words from Giselle and a few people putting pressure on the AAC attack, which forced errors on their side, the girls remembered that they are a good team who deserve to be competing at this level and decided to prove it.
Offensively, some good running lines from the forwards with Michelle, Crissy and Kendra taking the ball in strong. In the backs, Isis made some good runs and was very strong when tackled whether she was rolling to buy some time for the support crew or releasing the ball quickly only to stand up and take another run through the defence. With big tackles being made from Miranda, Miffy, Aude and others, and great defensive pressure from the whole backline, AAC had to work very hard to get past for another try in the first half.
A quick survey of the girls at half time showed that they were all in full health and ready to go back in to battle.
The All Blues came out fighting strong in the second half and were unlucky to not score a couple of times early on after some really good phases of play. AAC soon scored, but not without having to work really hard for it.
With the same 15 starting players still on the field, the girls did not show they were tired but instead picked up the intensity on defence even further. An unlucky penalty called against us 5m out from the try line saw to another AAC try.
The next 20 minutes went try-less from both sides. AAC made some good line breaks several times and looked sure to score, but with Aude on patrol with her excellent cover defence and Amy’s fantastic speed, no-one was getting past.
With about 15 minutes to go in the game, our super sub Marsha came on to the field at inside centre to spice things up. The very next play was our scrum from our defensive 22m. The pass went to Marsha who booted the ball down field. A strong chase from Isis and a whole backline with great hands including Marsha on the wrap around saw us get within 5m of the try line. Unfortunately, it was not to be our day to score.
AAC then got over the line one more time with 2 minutes on the clock.
Everyone fought hard the whole game and left everything out there on the pitch. Hilversum and Amstelveen can be very proud of these hearty players who have made it through to the next round and will be remaining in the Ereklasse division.
Player of the match went to Kendra who threw well in the line outs, ran with confidence offensively and made some great tackles.
AAC chose Aude as their choice of player of the match and as previously mentioned, this was due to her ability to disrupt many of their try scoring attempts as well as her nerves of steel under the high ball with a strong defensive line running at her.
Now with two weeks of no games, the All Blues will rest up, recover, train hard and hopefully be ready to go into the next round with players having to fight hard and prove that they deserve one of the 22 spots on game day.