Sunday’s competition between Beantown and the Washington DC Furies exemplified the Women’s Premier League and elite women’s rugby in the US.
From the kick-off both teams came out with passion and aggression. Beantown plays a very physical game, and the Furies answered the call. Play began, moving from one 10m line to the other in an indication of the evenly matched skill and desire of these two teams. The experience of the DC scrum showed as they dominated set pieces over Beantown, a team known for their strong forward pack. But leave it to the Furies and Beantown to create a forwards’ game; early in the game Beantown set a maul- the first of three we’d see that game. A number of penalties gave these two packs plenty of time to come face to face.
Heavy defense from the Boston team forced several forward passes from the DC backs, and vice versa the Washington defense capitalized on knock-on’s generated by pressuring the visiting team. The many scrums set the stage for weak-side plays. Beantown saw an opportunity and took an 8-man pick from center field. The Furies executed a strong defense, but the ball went to the hands of winger Alyssa Green who took off down the sidelines. Green staved off three side tackles from the Furies, keeping her feet and gaining ground before being brought to deck at the Furies’ doorstep. A penalty from the offense allowed the Furies to clear the ball. Again, Beantown battled the Furies defense. The Beantown forwards drove one after another into a solid wall of Furies defense. Driving tackles from the home team held the offense, who hammered through to gain ground in inches. A penalty scrum to red on the DC 5m line gave Town the advantage they needed. Beantown center Jess Peterson cut through the line and put the first points on the board.
The Furies restarted play with a fire in their bellies. Several kicks from both teams, and ensuing lineouts, and DC stole the ball for possession inside the Beantown half. Another lineout to DC and the Furies send #4 Darcy Miller straight under the uprights for a try. Conversions from both teams set the score at an even 7-7.
Again, Beantown attacked, struggling against a wall of defense containing them to their own half. As the Beantown backs passed down the line, Furies fullback Katie “Sally” O’Malley burst through and picked off the ball. O’Malley sprinted 50m, fending off her former Beantown teammates and giving the Furies the lead 12-7.
In spite of both teams being known for their strengths in the forwards, this game really belonged to the back triangle. Off of set pieces, and in open play, the ball found its way to the hands of a kicker, sailing from one side of the pitch to the other, and being fielded and returned by the opposing fullback and wings. An even kicking match kept the teams swinging from one lineout to another.
The teams volleyed possession, an even pairing of skill and aggression leading the defending team to force infractions time and again. Late in the first half the Furies were again finding their stride on offense, connecting through the backline. A forward pass turned the ball over to Beantown. Strong running and a penalty to the offense set Beantown up for a try in the corner. The kick fell short and ended the half with an even score.
Half time changes saw Amanda Street take the field with the Furies. Street made her presence known with a series of runs, slicing through the defense to gain ground for DC. Play continued through the second half with as much intensity as the start of the game. Both teams continued to drill into each other, while the back three volleyed possession. With 20 minutes left on the clock, the Furies took a scrum deep in Beantown territory. Furies flyhalf Katie Bell faked to her centers and ducked under the uprights for a try. Lauren Rhode easily converted and the Furies again took the lead, 19-12. For the remainder of the game, neither team let up. Beantown threatened the Furies’ goal line but were unable to close in on a game winning try. The final two minutes grew in intensity as Beantown fought for another try to win the game and the Furies gave their all to hold them at bay. The final whistle came, rendering the Furies triumphant.
This Week 3 match gave the Furies their second win of the season, and slot them second in the Blue conference. Next week DC (2-1) will host the Glendale Raptors (3-0) with the hopes of gaining a win against the team that defeated them in Denver earlier this season. Beantown (1-2) will host New York (0-3) next and look for a repeat victory.
View the complete WPL schedule, results and more here.