Berkeley improved to 3-0 in the Women’s Premier League, having defeating visiting Beantown 48-10 on Saturday. The All Blues have beat all blue conference opponents soundly, scoring 172 points while allowing 32.
The first half began well and resulted in a 31-0 lead at half. Courtney Ellis accounted for the two forward tries – one from a driving lineout, the other after a series of forward movements. Ashley English migrated from fullback to flyhalf (and was later replaced by Ruth Bryson, who's coming off injury) and used her experience to launch a very dangerous backline. Kelly Griffin, Nathalie Marchino and Lucy Croy all scored tries, and Jamie Schukle slotted three conversions.
“We have a good backline,” Berkeley coach Kathy Flores said. “They won the club 7s championship and NASC 7s. They’ve played together a lot; they’re our gold star. The forwards haven’t played together as much, and they’re still trying to find their way.”
Beantown was by no means beaten at this point, and returned to the pitch with renewed vigor. Katie Dowty put her team on the board with a try, then some penalties set up a Beantown scrum that walked over the tryline, touched down by Rachel Milligan 31-10.
The penalties continued to pile up, and eventually two yellow cards to Liz Terry and Hilary Hegener were issued. Positional changes distracted the team, which resulted in some disjointed play for 30 minutes.
“Beantown brought it in the second half and caught us sleeping,” Flores said. “We had two sin bins, and we didn’t adjust quickly enough to missing two people on the field. We lost our No. 8, had to move our breakaways around. We got caught up in a frenzy, and then compounded it. Every time we got the ball, we tried to score because we hadn’t scored in 30 minutes.”
But once Berkeley was back to full strength, and the team pulled itself out of its frenetic play, the All Blues ran in three tries during the final six minutes of the game.
“Overall I wasn’t super pleased with how we played,” Flores said. “We’re not where we want to be. Every game is important. We’re halfway through the season, and each game is showing us our strengths and weaknesses. We want to peak at nationals, regardless of what place we’re playing for.”
Berkeley will travel to Beantown this weekend for the rematch, but before heading across the country, Flores will address a few issues that arose on Saturday. Most important on the agenda is adjusting quickly when key positions are vacated. Ball retention will be addressed, too, as Berkeley did well to steal possession, but then turned the ball over immediately afterward. And finally, the All Blues will tighten up their scrum mechanics to better take on a solid Beantown pack.
Although many teams have had issues traveling to away games, Berkeley will bring 30-35 players to Boston. Several players have migrated to Berkeley from the Boston area and are eagerly awaiting a visit home.
In other news, the DC Furies v Keystone match was canceled due to unplayable field conditions.