Weekend of Women's Rugby: WPL & Harrogate

Think I mentioned previously that the women of Yorkshire’s rugby clubs are now playing on a Saturday and Sunday, whereas previously the fixtures usually took place on Sunday. Initially I wondered whether this could be a negative move as it held potential for the men’s game to eclipse the women’s in terms of attendance and interest.

Opening try for WPL’s Sarah Dunn

However, if things continue as they’ve begun, I needn’t have worried. West Park Leeds, for example, have used the women’s Saturday fixtures as an opportunity to arrange ‘double headers’, with the women playing first, followed by the men. And so it was last weekend when WPL Ladies faced their closest rivals in the league, Barnsley.

Long run and try for Chrissi Nettleton

The temperature had taken a dive in the days previously and it was bitterly cold, thermals weather, even though it was quite bright with the sun making occasional appearances. There was also a strong, sharp breeze which added to the feeling of winter a-coming. With the Leeds club unbeaten so far and Barnsley lying second in the table a close match was expected.

Successful return from rugby league for Claire Garner

This didn’t happen, putting it bluntly. Sarah Dunn broke through in the first few minutes and, although Barnsley replied soon after, the rest of the game was a tale of steady scoring for the home side. They finally amassed 68 points with Barnsley managing only 12 in reply. The visitors did have periods of possession but lacked the penetration needed to break through the West Park defence. More pics here.

Quick break for WPL’s men

Unfortunately the club’s men were not so successful. They were playing Wheatley Hills from South Yorkshire. They looked formidable right from the start, scoring twice in quick succession, creating an uphill task for their hosts though the game was still in its early stages. West Park did recover somewhat, scoring two tries of their own but the visitors were always ahead. It was frustrating that I had to leave just after half-time as I had an evening photographing commitment. Don’t know whether it was the anticipation of an early exit or WPL’s rare attacks but the photographs from this game were not especially good. You can judge for yourself here. Wheatley Hills won by 44-33 in the end.

The following day it was still bright as I made my way to Harrogate for their cup game against West Bridgford. Weird that I’ve photographed West Bridgford twice before, even though the club resides in Nottinghamshire. The last time was almost exactly a year ago when they played the aforementioned West Park Leeds. Interestingly the headline for that fixture’s blog post mentions Amsterdam, which is where I’m bound the weekend coming.

Opening try for Harrogate captain Rose Jay

Although conditions were even brighter than the previous day it was still very cold and we were all drenched by a massive hailstorm before kick off. I’ll spare you my inept and sketchy description of the game as there’s a proper newspaper report on it no less, complete with some of ickledot’s pictures.

Suffice it to say that Harrogate Ladies won well though West Bridgford resisted well at times and are clearly improving as each season goes by. Harrogate captain Rose Jay led from the front with an opening try beneath the posts. There were a good number of familiar faces in the squad, alongside some new ones who seem to have settled in well.

Top Tackling from Sarah Foster

I really enjoyed this game, mainly as I seemed to be close to the action for much of it. What sun there was came from directly behind me, illuminating the players well and I had a good number of pleasing shots by the end of the match. You can see more of them here.

 Good day with the boot for Lauren Bolger

Good day with the boot for Lauren Bolger

Harrogate’s relatively new Rudding Park ground is surrounded by rolling countryside and the low sun really gave everything a golden Autumnal glow. As I’ve said, no rugby this Saturday as I’m off to photograph a North Sea Blues Mini-Cruise. I should be back on Sunday in time for West Park Leeds Ladies’ epic encounter with Lichfield.