(Photo: Albany relied on their forwards to erase a two-try deficit against Providence.)
Two ties occurred this weekend among women’s DI clubs – a 22-all draw between Chicago (0-1-1) and Austin (1-0-1), the other a 15-15 decision between Providence (1-1-1) and Albany (0-1-1).
“Although, obviously, we would have preferred a win, we feel the team is moving in the right direction,” Chicago coach Lisa Gartner said. “Our first game against Detroit [27-7 loss] was sort of a nightmare; in Austin, we were able to start gelling. Two away games right off the bat was difficult. Incorporating new people and getting everyone on the same page just takes time.”
Chicago is in 6th place in CR2, with only the Minnesota Valkyries below them. Providence and Albany rank #4 and #5 respectively, with the Rhode Island side five points better.
The CR3 match was a classic battle between the backs and forwards. Albany's big, dominant forwards controlled the tight play and all of their scores came through the pack. Providence found success out wide, where their speed outpaced their opponents.
“I feel like our strengths and weaknesses offset Providence's enough that both teams had a hard time producing more points for the effort that was put in,” Albany coach Lori Staples said. “Providence was definitely stronger in the backs than us, and our forwards were stronger than their forwards. All of the tries were scored in the corner, so the conversion kicks were just out of range for the kickers.”
Albany lit up the scoreboard first, walking over a five-meter scrum in the 9th minute. The home side would not see tryzone green until the 15 minutes into the second half, as Providence owned the middle portion of the match.
In the 25th, 39th and 43rd minutes, the Providence backline did well to build constant overloads in the backs, and the defense could not adjust quick enough to contain the onslaught out wide. Albany was missing three key players in the backline, most notably flyhalf Jo Ward Kos, the assistant coach for the USA Women’s 7s team, which was holding camp in Chula Vista, Calif.
Down 15-5, Albany relied on their strength in the forwards to continually batter Providence’s pack, and the tactic paid dividends in the 54th and 62nd minutes. Another pushover scrum led to a try, and nice forward support of a backline break accounted for the tying points.
“Both teams battled hard until the end and had some opportunities in the last 20 minutes to put more points on the board,” Staples said. “The match definitely could have gone either way.
“As a coach I'm happy that we are improving with each practice and match we get under our belts,” Staples added. “However we're still not playing great rugby at times. Dropped passes and lapses in tackling were the main reason we didn't get the win on Saturday. We have a lot of work to do in practice this week to get ready to head to Philly.”
The Knickerbockers will have their hands full with Philadelphia, which is also anchored in their forwards, while Providence hosts Atlanta on Saturday. The Harlequins are currently in second place behind Boston but brandish the biggest point differential (68) over their two wins.