Lincoln Ladies took a step closer to the league title as they continued their unbeaten season with a narrow 17-15 away win against Boston, but their opponents pushed them all the way.
Before the match, both sides observed a minute’s applause in memory of former Lincoln coach Steve Burns. Lincoln have been playing in a special tartan kit this season in tribute to Steve, but due to a kit clash on Sunday they reverted to playing in a red and green strip.
Both teams battled hard throughout in windy conditions, but it was Lincoln who scored first after just five minutes. Jenna Bierton handed off a Boston player as she ran in for a try after great work by Ella Frow, before Emily Nelson added the conversion with her first ever kick for Lincoln.
Lincoln increased their lead when a kick over the top by Abi Lee bounced loose before being picked up by Harriet Fluck, who ran in for a try from the halfway line.
Boston’s Charlie Ingram-Janette was forced off when she suffered a concussion injury after accidental contact from a knee and was taken to hospital. After being assessed she was later discharged and everyone from both clubs wishes her a speedy recovery.
The match resumed on another pitch while Charlie was being treated. It wasn’t long before Boston reduced the deficit to 12-5 as Charlotte Daubney set up captain Hannah Booth, who hit a line at speed and forced her way through two tacklers to score a try in the corner.
Boston cut the gap in the score further when Daubney offloaded to Max Heeley, who took the ball at speed and powered over for a try, taking three defenders with her in the process.
Lincoln responded quickly to extend their lead when Fluck picked up a loose ball and outpaced most of the defence before being tackled two metres short. Jade Morgan then picked up the ball from a ruck before diving over for an unconverted try.
Boston refused to give up and reduced the deficit to two points when Kyra Balderstone caught the ball from a lineout and a forward drive put Tash Champion over for a try.
The two sides remained toe-to-toe for the final 10 minutes – Boston’s tails were up and they tried to push forward, but they were met by a dogged Lincoln defence who emerged victorious.
The match also saw Lincoln centre Clare Brooker-Brown play the full 80 minutes on her comeback to rugby, in what was her first appearance in two years.
In the same division – Women’s National Challenge 2 Midlands (North East) – Aimee Goument crossed for two tries as Kesteven Ladies secured an impressive 39-0 home victory against Deeping Devils Ladies.
Ruth Holmes, Beth Toone, Molly Walker, Kerri Arlando, and Stacey Spafford also scored tries for Kesteven, while Amy Brumhead and Megan Alderton each kicked one conversion.
Ami Boneham and Tamzin Keenlyside were named as Kesteven’s best players on the day. Keenlyside was one of the founding members of the team and played in her final match before retiring from the squad.
Rising star from the Under-18s squad Lilliemae Reid moved up to make her senior debut, while Carina O’Brien also made her first appearance for the team.
Despite the result Deepings’ Rugby Development Officer Kieran Lynch was proud of his side saying “everyone put in an amazing effort and their heads never dropped”.
He praised both teams for ensuring the game went ahead, after agreeing to play 10-a-side, to show the positive impact of following the RFU’s ‘Game On’ guidance.
Rachel Salter and Jo Burke were named as Deepings’ forward and back of the match respectively, while Kesteven picked out Alex Atkinson as the away side’s top performer.
Josephine Cobden scored two tries as Sleaford Ladies produced a performance of true grit and determination, and remained in high spirits, despite a 37-17 defeat at Peterborough.
Kelly King also scored a try for Sleaford, while Aimee Jepson added one conversion, as the visitors continue to show great improvement this season.
In the Women’s NC 2 North (East), tries from captain Becky Clark and Jazz Clark helped Scunthorpe Women to a narrow 10-5 victory away against Harrogate.
Charlotte Oades and Sophie Bullass were named as Scunthorpe’s forward and back of the match respectively, while Kirsty Grey was picked out as the team’s top performer by their coach. Jacqui Warrington was named as Scunthorpe’s player of the match by Harrogate.
Results may not have gone their way on Sunday afternoon, but the whole Lincoln Touch squad never gave up and showed great spirit in the fifth round of the Eastern Regional Development tournament in St Ives.
Lincoln lost by a 3-1 scoreline to each of Nomads, Bishop Stortford and Essex, with their tries coming from Rob Smith, Flynn Smith, and Maksim Lema. A narrow 1-0 defeat against Royston then followed.
Lincoln ended the day with a 4-1 defeat against Nottingham, with Emily Gourlay setting up Flynn Smith for their only try of the match. Lincoln also gave debuts to Will Bayes-Green and Pablo Juarez during the tournament.
Lincoln’s Under-13s played Paviors in the NLD Plate on Sunday and progressed through to the next round after a 25-20 victory.
Morgan Beese and Morgan Jones grabbed two tries apiece for Lincoln, while James Thomas scored one after breaking through tackles during a powerful run.
Meanwhile, three female rugby players from Lincolnshire have been selected for the Loughborough Lightning centre of excellence in association with England Rugby.
Becky Boyd from Grimsby, Malena Baxter from Boston, and Charlotte Bousfield from Lincoln all play their club rugby at Newark RUFC.
On Saturday, they attended the Under-18 North Centres of Excellence festival at Sheffield Hallam University. The centre of excellence programme supports and develops under-18 female rugby players on their journey.
In Midlands Two East (North), Will Topper crossed for two tries as Market Rasen & Louth battled hard in a 38-22 home defeat against Ilkeston.
Cian Baker also scored a try to put Rasen seven points clear of safety.
Sam Lempard was awarded as the man-of-the-match for the hosts, who were also given a penalty try in a hard-fought match in Lincolnshire.
In Midlands Three East (North), Doug Clough, Jordan Nuttall and Jess Matthews all scored tries as Grimsby refused to give up in a 66-19 defeat away against promotion-chasing Birstall.
Matthews also kicked two conversions for Grimsby who battled hard against their Leicestershire opponents.
Grimsby’s Under-16s were also in action at the weekend as Alfie Whale scored a try in a 5-5 draw away against Goole.
In Midlands Four East (North), captain Ross O’Loughlin made his long-awaited comeback from injury as his side performed strongly in a 5-5 draw at Ollerton.
Scrum-half Leo Cross scored an unconverted try to secure a well-deserved draw for Hykeham, but unfortunately O’Loughlin may face another spell on the sidelines after sustaining an injury in the first half.
Hykeham had a lot of territory in the match, but were unable to convert enough chances to snatch the win and had to settle for what was a hard-fought draw.