Harrogate take Sunderland by storm in shocking 93-0 success at the Stratstone Stadium
By Helena Landau
The league leaders kept Sunderland at bay, ensuring they did not put a single point past them
From the kick off the very physical Sunderland did well, applying solid pressure to the home side. Though the intentions of the visitors, to show their dominance early on was evident, they were unable to keep their lead in possession up.
6 minutes in, centre, Alex Wallace took advantage of a penalty awarded. With a quick tap and go, she made the metres past the Sunderland defence and touched down on the left of the sticks. She also added the extras and it was 7-0 in as many minutes.
Sarah Foster, soon scored the second after some stand out work from flanker, Achele Agada who made it count when Harrogate had the advantage. She chased the ball down well and picked up perfectly. Quick hands from Wallace to Foster followed before Foster finished it off, 12-0.
Sunderland then had some time in possession but couldn’t handle the Harrogate pressure and Number 8, Martha Riggs controlled and chased the ball down well. She used her feet to full effect and then passed out to prop, Lizzy Dennison who powered through with a drive through the defence.
Scrum half, Emma Winstanley used prop, Ciara Mullane’s strength before moving the ball out to the backs. Quick hands from Wallace to Simone Christopher ensured a try on the wide right as the winger crossed the whitewash to make it 17-0.
Harrogate received well after the restart kick but a determined Sunderland put the home team through their paces in the wet and windy conditions, managing to win the ball back. Riggs replied though, winning the ball back during a Sunderland line out.
A near to perfect set piece followed. Fly half, Clarissa Murphy and centre, Kel Morgan combined well before Foster got her hands on the ball with Sophie Wilson in support on her right. Foster stepped on the gas however, out-pacing the visiting defence. She touched down between the sticks. Wallace kicked over the additional points, 24-0.
Sunderland won back the ball for a short period of time but Harrogate were soon back on the attack, with Charlotte Warriner charging through the gap with her fellow forward Nieve Jones in support. Warriner was neck for neck with the visiting full back before passing out wide to Jones. The pass didn’t quite reach her however and a Sunderland scrum followed.
The visitors then made the mistake of kicking from the scrum. Foster picked up with ease, handing off 3 defenders before stepping another. About to be closed down she timed the offload to Wilson well who stepped on the gas and sped over the whitewash to score Harrogate’s fifth of the match, 31-0.
Agada followed in WIlson’s footsteps and used her unreal power and pace after picking up the kick. She ran through the huddle of Sunderland defenders and scored, 38-0.
Following this, Foster made her hatrick and before the half-time whistle blew there were 43 points scored.
After the interval, Rose Jay made her way onto the pitch and immediately made her presence known. With a touch and go penalty scored securely after 5 minutes of her arrival.
Tries followed from Agada and flanker, Lauren Clarkson in quick succession, pushing the Sunderland defence to breaking point.
Danielle Molyneux made an immediate impact on the match when she made her appearance. She dummied before shipping the ball out wide to Jay. Mullane caught the next kick and made sure Lauren Bolger got her hands on the ball.
With fresh legs Bolger made a break for it, the defence were falling away from her but she was eventually caught by the ankles by the Sunderland full back. Yet, showing off her gymnastics skills, she forward rolled her way over the tackle. She bounced back up to her feet and scored a dazzling try between the sticks.
Christopher made her mark on the pitch once again in immediate reply from the restart and crossed the whitewash for a second time. She increased the score to 76-0 with 15 minutes left.
Next up Sunderland received a red card. With the overlap there, Murphy took her chances and made it over the whitewash for a well deserved try. All the pressure was on her after she received the pass with Sunderland set on not allowing their old teammate to score against them. She dived over and made it 81-0.
Upon the restart it was Wilson’s turn to score a second after Bolger paced up the pitch and offloaded. The extras were kicked over and Harrogate were nearing a century of points with the full-time whistle in sight.
Sunderland were down to 13 shortly after play resumed, due to the second offence of a no arms wrapped tackle. It was Warriner who wrapped the match up for Harrogate though, just in time for the full time whistle to blow. The final score was 93-0 to the home side.
Player of the match performances were awarded to Emma Winstanley, Ciara Mullane and Clarissa Murphy for stand out performances.
The Ladies will play Sefton at the Stratstone Stadium this sunday, for their last league game of the season, kick off is 2:30 pm.