Pulborough girls crowned National Cup champions in showpiece final

Pulborough under-18 girls celebrate their National Cup victory at Eailing Trailfinders
Pulborough under-18 girls celebrate their National Cup victory at Eailing Trailfinders

Pulborough’s girls were crowned National Cup champions on Sunday as they overcame Newark in the showcase final at Eailing Trailfinders.

The National Girls Cup finals match was a warm-up game ahead of the staging of the inaugural Tyrrells Premier 15s final.

The Freelands outfit managed to secure a 36-7 victory in the lunchtime kick-off ahead of Saracens Women beating Harlequins Ladies 24-20 live on Sky Sports in which Pulborough old girl Jess Breach featured.

Of all the journeys the Pulborough girls have taken this season to play their rugby, this was the longest road.

Starting in Sussex before Christmas, the under-18s blended the upcoming girls from under-15s into the more senior and experienced girls of the squad, to form a team of depth and ambition.

And the talent was on show from the earliest stages, with a robust win over a solid Old Albanians team demonstrating to coaches, players and parents where this season’s journey could end.

A dominance of our Sussex neighbours was followed by a convincing win of the London/South East area, with wins over both Aylesford and Thurrock. This in turn saw them visit Royal Wootten Basset RFC to play the nervy southern semi-finals.

A composed performance and two good wins, including one over last year’s champions and respected adversaries Winscombe, gave the girls the belief they could go all the way.

In the final, Newark started on the offensive. A couple of missed tackles led to the Newark crowd roaring their team on under the posts for a good try that was converted.

The Pulborough girls started to take more ownership of the ball and were certainly winning the percentage possession and territory, but were failing to convert this in to points.

Another break by Newark looked like it would lead to a second try, but new starter Lottie Regan made the first of a number of terrific, vital tackles to snuff out the threat.

Emily Robinson finally made the Pulborough pressure pay, bossing her way through the creaking Newark defence to earn a now deserved score. With no conversion, Pulborough were still behind, looking vulnerable to breaks while still dominating the territory.

With Regan in attack down the left-hand side, Newark extinguished the immediate threat, only to see the ball shift to the right-hand side where the forwards ground out the yards to the tryline.

Newark pressure and little mistakes once more got in the way, meaning the first half finished with the Pulborough girls dominating the possession but still being behind on the scoreboard.

With the wind in their backs and going down the hill in the second half, Pulborough applied the pressure from the outset and, while some of the handling was not textbook, the confidence was starting to return and more flowing rugby was being played.

A scrum on the five meter line and it looked like a well-drilled backs move could profit on the open side, but Robinson attacked the blind side to score an individual try.

Katya Moteul then pierced the guard on the blind side. She popped off to Rachel Marchesan, who powered off down the pitch in her inimitable and unstoppable fashion to score, converted by Robinson.

Another well-managed scrum saw the ball reach Regan for a well-deserved try, before a push for the line by Sarah Cornforth saw broken tackles from Newark and another seven pointer.

With the score at 29-6, the subs off the bench and minutes off the clock, victory was just about certain. One final play through the hands saw Cornforth involved once more, passing out to newly-on Lucy Shaw-Hill to confirm the result with a final seven points.

Pulborough: Aliya Seehawong, Amy Saunders, Cally Whittington, Carla Bonillo, Catherine Wakeford, Chloe Ratcliffe, Ella Russell, Ellie Mae Phillips, Emily Robinson, Flo Robinson, Grace Elsworth Smith, Hannah Whittington, Hatti Fowler, Imogen Brash, Jas Otene-Henworth, Jade Otene-Henworth, Jess Ford, Katya Moteul, Lauren Fisher, Lauren Summers, Lottie Regan, Louisa Ward, Lucy Shaw-Hill, Molly Raynor, Niamh Beckley, Rachel Marchesan, Rosanna Collis, Sarah Cornforth, Zoo Overton.