Right, it was the battle of the suburbs as any foreigner would say. Amstelveen against Purmerend. These are both cities just outside of Amsterdam, about 35km away from each other and there is a strong rivalry between them.
It was going to be the first match without our key player Giselle and our unicorn Melanie. And with it also one of the rare games without our captain Michelle and with several injured players…. Thankfully we had 16 players ready Sunday morning. All majorly excited and focussed! But so was Waterland, so when the game started, the tension was felt on the side-line!
Ready, set, go! It was soon clear that this was gonna be a tough match, just as we thought it would be. Waterland had a good combination between strong and heavy forwards and quick and agile players. They kept going for the ball after tackles and rucks had to be defended with 3 up to 6 players! But thankfully we also have an amazing squad, so after 5 minutes we were already at their try line. With a nice big ruck piled up, Wiebke got the ball out of the ruck and launched herself forwards. Let me first quickly introduce Wiebke; this diehard just managed to work a 80 hour week as her pop-up Christmas store had its grand launch on Saturday. So after this manic week with a 2 year old (beautiful) kid also running around she thought it would be fun to go onto the pitch on Sunday and play her very first game EVER! Perfect timing, cause she could replace Michelle as prop and had a brilliant game! But back to her second launch of the week, this time on the pitch. Wiebke grabbed the ball, heard someone scream ‘go for it!’, launched herself next to the ruck, was tackled and attacked by several Waterland players, saw the try line as she landed and still head the bright state of mind to place the ball right over her head. TRY!!!! 5-0 awesome!! Ziggy was our kicker for today and only just missed the conversion. Will it be such a day today???
So back to the half way line, let’s get this match going! But again; it was still a hard match with hard tackles and quick runs. The runs weren’t usually far, as the chaise were good and the tackles were hard. And unfortunately within the next 5 minutes Waterland managed to also score and it was 5-5 in the first 15 minutes…
Oh no wait; 10-5 I must say because our beast Paula (who could have also been a ballerina as she spins around all her attackers with a beautiful and elegant swirl) ran to the try line and scored our second try! This conversion was right in front of the posts so Ziggy prepared herself, went for it, and got a cramp in her calf…. Grrrr, damn it! I do believe I heard her dad sum up all the areas were she was hurting at the moment which made me think of a battered patchwork slowly falling apart… But she was still going strong, brilliant Ziggy!
And again Waterland found the gap only minutes later to make the score 10-12, again… Damn it!!!! 20 minutes to go into the first half and the next 20 minutes were as tough as can be expected. There wasn’t a clear stronger team, we had the ball; were tackled, Waterland stole the and made a mistake and we had the ball again. Tackles were made left, right and centre and there were 2 girls who were at all these places constantly; Cristina and Joyce were in full beast mode and were determined to not let anyone pass! I do believe they succeeded with this goal favo Crissy on becoming Woman of the Match! Brilliantly played girl and inspiring to see you throw yourself at someone twice your weight and get them down every time!
Just before the end of the first half, Waterland scored again bringing the score to 10-17. So the first half was finished and it was time for some serious tactics. Something with kicking, running, chasing, and of course scoring. It’s a good thing we have girls who do understand this sport because after two years I am still no way near the strategic player as many of these girls are (says the forward) but thankfully our girls absolutely understood Brian and it did work! Shoshanna, who also had a brilliant match with both great tackles and great runs, made it to the try line and scored! 15-17, bring it on girls! This time Joyce made the kick as Ziggy was taken off at the end of the first half, something about not feeling her leg… And our young pup Maureen who was jumping around and eating her nails at the side-line for way to long replaced her. Unfortunately Joyce didn’t make the conversion, so we were still just behind on Waterland.
Again it was 20 minutes of battling without a clear winner, both teams were strong and Waterland had the luxury of having 5 subs to bring in new energy. Our girls did it with all their guts, their determination, their mind and every fibre of their body. It really was a battle field and our captain Myffy was right in front making beautiful tackles and showing us that determination will get you everywhere (left, right and centre!). But the whole forwards pack was right behind her thankfully, cause every ruck was still with 3 to 6 people and after it the next ruck was set up and the line was tackled which created another ruck and so on and so on. My god, it was killing for the girls, but they kept on going!
Okay, unfortunately there were also casualties as Simone had to go off with her bad knee being twisted again and Elsa had been shouting to Fuss to not throw the ball as her finger was probably broken, but kept going. Right after the next try, yes by Waterland unfortunately, our physio checked her hand and this was the moment also Elsa had to admit that playing on was not the best idea. So on the pitch with 13 girls and 15 minutes to go with a score of 15-22… my god it was sooo terrible tense! And the girls kept on going, Waterland didn’t get any closer to our try line even though we had less players and some even found new energy in their left pinky probably cause Hanneke was in full beast mode at the last 10 minutes of the match! The girls were going so well that Shoshanna even found that one gap that was needed to score the final try! 20-22 and then finally the whistle went and ended the battle.
In the circle most girls looked completely beaten, but both Brian and Myffy stated that this was the best game this year! How the girls fought for every meter, made so many tackles, didn’t give up even though Waterland seemed to be already at the try line (which by the way was a brilliant tackle Paula!) and played as a team over and over again! It was amazing, thrilling and killing! So girls; be dead proud of yourselves as you showed everyone how it is to play for the All Blues and that any team should be completely ready as we will be ready too!
Next week it’s the return in Purmerend and it will again be a close one, come and be our 16th man on the side-line and help us beat the battle of the suburbs!