by Margaret McElligott
The Washington Furies traveled to Amherst, Mass., Sunday to play Beantown to kick off the 2010 Women’s Premier League season. The tough match featured lots of heavy hitting between two experienced packs of forwards and determined tackling by the backs. Beantown had the first good attacking opportunity of the match, with the backs reversing the ball off a kick and threatening early. The Furies successfully defended Beantown’s maul off a lineout and then managed to clear the ball off the back of the scrum.
From that clearing kick, the Furies managed to slowly advance the ball 40 yards up the field with a combination of punches by the forwards and runs by the backs. A penalty on Beantown gave the Furies their first scoring opportunity, and fullback Jess Shipley put the ball through the uprights to give Washington a 3-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the Furies, the lead was short-lived. Beantown recovered the ball quickly off the kickoff and swung it wide left, sweetly shuffling it among teammates for the first try of the match. Both packs would then battle back and forth, until Beantown swung the ball wide off the back of the scrum and scored on the far right side of the try zone. Beantown would score once more in the half to leave the half-time score, 17-3.
The second half was also a tight battle between the two sides, with more ferocious mauling by the packs. The Furies’ Eva DuGoff would score around the 65th minute to try to close the gap, but it was too late. Beantown continued to pour it on in the second half and would go on to win the game, 31-8.
“The plan going in was to win the point of contact, which is one of Beantown’s strengths,” said Furies coach Nancy Fitz. “The amazing thing is that it was at least even if not our advantage in terms of point of contact. We were rucking well, mauling well, so it was a fantastic showing. I think if you compare the videos from last year when we played Beantown, even the close one, it was just light years of improvement on our part.”
“What hurt us were when there were turnovers,” she said. “They were able to get into space. They have some really good finishers, two Eagle backs. Once they got some space and momentum, it was tough to hold them.”
Beantown sent seven players to represent the United States in the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup, more than any other U.S. club team. The Americans would go on to finish 5th with a convincing win over Canada, but the repeated pummeling had an impact on players’ bodies.
“Coming off of the World Cup, we were definitely mentally prepared for the change of pace,” Beantown No. 8 Melanie Denham said by e-mail. ” The hardest part of the transition, however, for me was getting back into the swing of things with Beantown, especially because we have so many new players. This is part of why even though my body is not quite 100 percent recovered from the World Cup, and I could definitely feel it in the contact that D.C. aggressively brought to us, it was important to get in and play with my club… A team of super stars won’t win matches. The team that plays together will.”
Next up, the Furies will face the Twin Cities Amazons Sunday at home.
“They’re also very strong in the forwards in terms of pick and gos and trying to keep the ball,” Fitz said. “They’ve got some good hard runners. We need to keep up our performance at the breakdown. I think it’s more of a timing issue in terms of being able to attack….more time and more practice in terms of being able to take advantage when we do get the ball wide. We certainly have some threats and some speed out there…and we definite want to take advantage of that.”
Overall, Fitz said she was pleased with her club’s first outing of the season and was proud of the Fury support on the sidelines.
“It was a great start for us. I do feel like the game was a little closer than the score indicates. But if you compare how we started last year versus this year, we’re way ahead of where we started last year. We took three sides to Massachusetts, which is amazing that we had 44 players who were willing to go that far to play. That’s a good statement about our depth and commitment.”
by Becca Fritz
For the second year in a row, Beantown’s WPL season started amongst sixteen college teams at the annual Beantown Collegiate tournament. The DC furies traveled to Amherst, Ma for the Sunday afternoon game.
From the start of the match, it was very apparent that the Furies have improved since the last time we saw them. Early on they gained possession and seized the opportunity to kick for points. Ten minutes in, the Furies were up three nothing.
Not thirty seconds after the restart did Kate Orlin, Beantown’s number fourteen touch down the first try of the 2010 season.
From start to finish, play was very fast paced and full of contact; neither team stayed in their own twenty-two for very long during the entire first half.
With the help of some excellently choreographed connections by Beantown’s forwards, thirty-three minutes in, Renee Astphan, number eleven broke away at the Furies twenty-two for the second try of the game. The third, made shortly
thereafter by flanker Mel Denham was the first to be converted by Hooker Emily Jones.
Halftime score : 17-3, Beantown.
The second half slowed down a bit, allowing Beantown to regroup and come together a lot better in their set pieces. However, early on in the second half, the Furies gained possession and got the ball out to former Keystone RFC wing, Ida Bernstein. She nearly scored herself but instead the Furies created a maul off of a penalty and touched the ball down for their first try of the season.
Beantown didn’t score again until almost thirty minutes into the second half when Katie Dowty and Amy Daniels collectively scored. With Emily Jones’ conversion, the score was 24-8 and Beantown received their extra point.
About thirty minutes into the second half, Renee Astphan intercepted a ball from a penalty in Beantown’s half and had a sixty-yard run until she was caught by opposing wing Ida Bernstein just within the Furies’ twenty-two. Play resumed in the Furies’ twenty-two for the rest of the game. The last try of the game was scored by prop Jamie Burke off of a lineout at the five-meter line. Emily Jones converted.
Final Score: 31-8