**This is a writeup from the Coach of the Austin Valkyries, Meg Pace and was re-posted on Goffonrugby.com as well as this blog.
The game started out with both teams probing the other for weaknesses. The Jazz kicked off to the Valks who played a strong possession game early but gained little ground as the Jazz attempted to pin the ball down in the Austin half of the field. The change came when the Valks committed a penalty just outside the 22 meter line which KC converted for a 3-0 lead.
Not jolted by this setback Austin regathered and pressured well off the restart. A powerful scrum deep in Jazz territory and a well-taken eight man pick with pass out to the scrumhalf Meg Pace led to a try.
From this point, the Valks dominated the first half. They pinned the KC team down in their own end for an extended time and forced their opponent into a crucial error – a turnover in a ruck gave a chance for a KC clearance kick, but the kick missed touch and wing Heidi Whitman weaved through the entire Jazz 15 to score. After that effort the Valks maintained possession and field position but did not score again in the first half though the run of play favored them.
Halftime score: Valks 12 Jazz 3
The second half started with the Valks kicking into a setting sun and coming out firing on all cylinders. They pushed the Jazz backwards consistently and about 15 minutes into the half, the pack executed a series of crashes all the way over the line for a try by Traci Schmidtke, 17-3. The Jazz fought back and scored two well-worked tries in the backline, and identified where they could breach the Austin defense.
But the Jazz continued to have troubles up front, but looked dangerous anytime they got good ball. After tying the score at 17, KC was unable to take it over the top as the Austin backline solidified once again and continued the pressure defense and hard tackling of the first half to stop their opponents. With the score tied, Austin upped the pressure once again and through a series of strong crashing play mixed with hard hitting defense, slowly drove back down the field. Approximately 30 minutes into the second half, Austin attacked off a stolen scrum and scored off a weakside play to lead 22-17.
KC worked hard to recover, but was not able to break the Valks or even move forward out of their own end. With about five minutes left in the game, the Austin pack stole the ball and maintained possession over several dominating rucks before dishing weak to Whitman for her second.
Whitman could be heard calling out “I’ll take it if you want.” And then she took it all the way.
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