The Women’s Premier League throttled into the second half of the season on Sunday, with the Glendale Raptors secure in their first place seed, undefeated. In an unseasonable heat Mid-Atlantic heat the Washington Furies hosted the Denver team for their second encounter of the season. Holding strong in second place in the Blue Conference, the Furies faced the only opponent to have defeated them yet this season. For the fourth week running, Glendale showed their aptitude on the field and wrung out another win, leading the Furies 61-19.
The game kicked off to the home team, in an intense noon-day heat more suited to 7’s than a full 80 minutes of 15-a-side rugby. Washington set several phases before kicking the ball to Glendale, whose counterattack drove deep into the Furies’ territory and set up the visiting team to find the first try of the day. An uncharacteristic missed conversion gave Glendale an early 5-0 lead.
A knock on at the restart resulted in a center scrum, and a glimpse at the two power-house packs coming head-to-head. The strength of the Glendale scrum was well-matched by the technique in the Furies’ pack which challenged the Raptor’s aggression. From the scrum center the DC backs spun the ball out wide and fullback Katie “Sally” O’Malley carried it to the 5 meter line for another scrum down. Glendale flyhalf Hannah Stolba put the ball to boot and Glendale took the offense, striking through the defense and resulting in another try. Again, a knock on from the kick-off gave gold a center scrum, and a penalty on blue brought play to their 5m line. The Furies turned up the offense as prop Tiffany Smith charged the Glendale line, drawing in the defenders. A penalty ensued and the Furies went for points, but the ball sailed to the outside of the uprights.
Play moved back and forth across the 50. Offensively, Glendale barreled into the defense. The Furies’ defensive rigor, seen in last week’s game as it forced Beantown’s offense to lose ground, was hard at work again this week. Tackle after tackle on the gain line stymied the Glendale offense. But repetitious phases of attack allowed the Raptors to find space and move down the field. The Furies would return this, using penalties and turnovers to take play back into Glendale territory and threatening their goal line. Both flyhalves registered a generous number of kicks for territory, precipitating lineouts on opposing ends of the field. One such lineout, just inside the Glendale half, put the Furies in motion. The ball came loose off the lineout and Jeanna Beard scooped it up. Multiple phases followed until the ball found itself in the hands of Liz Hirschorn who side-stepped several Glendale tackles for a try. The conversion set the score at Glendale 19-7 Furies. Washington’s momentum grew and 5 minutes later they earned another 5 points, this time a corner try from the fullback. As the first half wore on the teams continued to struggle possession. Glendale’s fullback took a gap and touched down one more try, bringing the halftime score to Glendale 26- 12 Furies.
The second half started in favor of the visiting team. The fullback quickly moved the gain line deep into Furies’ territory and the Raptors linked up for a corner try. But the Furies persisted. Scrumhalf Katie Bell kicked from the back of a scrum to set a lineout inside the Glendale half, and the backs swung the ball wide, bringing play from one sideline to the other. The back triangle lit up as a kick from Glendale was swiftly fielded and returned. Preferring to use feet to gain ground, another chip kick advanced the Furies and spotting the overload, they sent the ball wide where lock Darcy Miller- for the second week in a row- found herself perfectly positioned in the backline to score a try.
For the remaining 30 minutes the match continued in fervor. Penalties led to scrums, kicks for territory, and lineouts at both ends of the pitch. The Furies maintained a defensive wall, but Glendale found the cracks and burrowed through, earning 4 more tries before time was out. Despite a hard-fought match by DC, Glendale maintained their undefeated record and first place in the Blue Conference.
View the complete WPL schedule, results and more here.