Sunday 19 September marked the beginning of the 2021/22 league season for the Liberton Ladies.
After an 18 month period with no competitive rugby, and only one preseason and a 7s tournament, which saw the team successfully picking up silverware, this strong developing side was desperate to get some real game time under it’s belt.
With a restructure behind the scenes and a wave of new players joining the club, the first league game could not have been a tougher challenge, taking on a well drilled and truly established Grangemouth side. Stepping onto the coach in the morning with an infectious confidence, the Liberton Ladies showed a laser focus to come away with the victory.
Lets take a look how the match went down:
After a high tempo and energetic warm up, Liberton began the game camped inside their own half, with Grangemouth attacking hard. Wave after wave of attack hit the Liberton defensive line, which more than stood up to the challenge, repelling the attacking team with some powerful hits and a great deal of grit, turning over the ball in a number of rucks and set piece scrums. As the game progressed, a staunch defensive performance set the platform for the backline to start firing.
On the topic of set pieces, one of our newer players, Taye established her presence in the lineout, jumping and losing no ball and effectively disrupting Grangemouth’s own line. With both sides putting in a strong defensive effort, the game was held at a stalemate until right before the halftime whistle, when Liberton were able to breach the Grangemouth defense, running a strong line and showing great hands to break away, Charlotte Watters picked up the first try of the game (0-5 unconverted)
Going into the second half with a well-deserved and hard fought lead, the ladies self-confidence and belief grew further. Starting the second half on the front foot, the team saw a breakaway run from Laura, taking the ball up to the 5 yard line, coming agonizingly close to scoring her first try but knocking on at the death. Continuing dominance in the scrum saw the ladies bulldoze their way over the line, with Rebekah Nolan scoring right in the corner. (0 – 10 unconverted).
As the second half progressed, the heat and quality of the opposition conspired against the ladies and saw a powerful Grangemouth side begin to find gaps in the Liberton defensive line. With fatigue and defensive pressure easing off, Grangemouth were able bring on fresh legs and turn a sustained period of pressure into points, scoring two quick tries to bring the game level. (10 -10 unconverted).
All level mid-way through the second half, Liberton once again began to apply the pressure, but it was Grangemouth growing in confidence as the game went on, managing an excellent break through the middle of the line to score under the posts, taking the lead for the first time in the game. (15-10 unconverted).
With no substitutes available and having exerted a huge defensive effort in the face of sub-Saharan temperatures, Liberton were facing an uphill task to say the least when they were hit with a head injury, taking them down to 14. Rather than fold in the heat and accept a hard fought loss, the ladies issued a rallying cry, showing an unbelievable spirit to fight back into the game, and with 10 left on the clock, a powerful run straight down the centre of the park from Rebekah Nolan sent the crowd into raptures as they took the game level at 15 -15. Setting the ball on the tee in the face of enormous pressure, fly half Hayley Ross was the coolest person in Grangemouth as she slotted the ball between the posts, earning the conversion to nudge Liberton ahead once again.
With only a few minutes to play, the home team were always going to come back with more pressure, showing a great fighting spirit but were ultimately unable to get over the line, with Liberton displaying a siege like mentality and defending with their lives during the dying embers of the game.
As the last play was called, Grangemouth once again applied pressure on the Liberton try line, though the ladies were able to halt and hold up a driving maul, turning the ball over, signalling the end of a fantastic game of rugby.
In a game that both sides agree was a joy to play in, that could have gone either way, the Liberton Ladies take the points and roar on to their next challenge, a home game against Dunfermline at 2pm.
Final score - Grangemouth 15 - Liberton 17
Try scorers - Rebekah Nolan x 2, Charlotte Watters x 1.
Conversions - Hayley Ross x 1
Player of the match – Charlotte Watters
Dick of the day - Laura McLaren
Most improved - Josie Williams
Team Captain - Victoria Fenton
Team Vice - Hayley Ross