It all came down to one try October 15 when WWRFC took on the Chicago Women, and unfortunately, it wasn’t in our favor. Despite losing 27-22, we held a great back-and-forth battle all game and put up a tremendous effort.
All the tackling-heavy practices we had in the past few weeks paid off early on in the match, and we were able to stop any gains from Chicago and retain ball possession after our kick-off with intense rucking and beautifully made tackles. Chicago had a chance early on to score, but our scrums were overwhelming and our backs had great support on the outside. Shortly after, we got the ball wide out of a scrum and wing Felicia Carlson took off running for the first score of the game. Good guys up 5-0 with a missed conversion kick.
Scrum-down take two happened soon after the resetting kick, and Chicago came up with the ball and worked it into our zone. We couldn’t get back in time and high tackled on a breakaway, so Chicago was awarded the penalty try. Kick was good, Chicago took the lead back 7-5.
We shook this one off and patiently fought back up the field. Outside center Brooke Tashner had a great poach by the sideline to get the ball back in our hands, and forwards captain and 8-man Grace Hovde booted it out to get us a line-out by Chicago’s 10-meter mark. Wisconsin won the line-out and our forwards had a powerful drive to inch us closer. Quick hands out, but a knock-on forced a turnover to Chicago.
Play went back the other way with Chicago managing to beat us on the outside and work their way into our 22-meter mark. Our forwards had no problem packing down big scrums, and despite Chicago barely getting the ball out wide, a high pass allowed for Tashner to get the steal and make a big run back into Chicago’s zone. TRY! Wisconsin was back on top, 10-7 with a no-good conversion attempt.
Chicago definitely wasn’t giving up yet, however, and answered right back after disciplined play brought them all the way back into our zone. Wisconsin tried to hold the line, but they somehow still managed to work it in and touch it down. Chicago missed their kick, so took the narrow 12-10 lead on us.
Say what you will about Wisconsin, but it can’t be denied we play with heart and leave everything on the field. Intensity peaked in our rucking, and we continued to attack Chicago’s defense, keeping play between their 5- and 10-meter marks. Our forwards created an abundance of space for our backs to work with, and Carlson took full advantage on the outside. TRY Wisconsin! No kick again, but we took back the lead 15-12 just before halftime.
Neither team showed signs of slowing down in the second half. Right away, we asserted ourselves in Chicago territory off big runs from Hovde and flyhalf Elisa Becker. Chicago elected to scrum off a penalty, but our forwards overpowered theirs and we wound up with possession yet again. One more scrum on their 22 mark opened the gate for Hovde to get us within meters, and Tashner to finish it off by touching it down. Wisconsin try, and Becker nailed the conversion kick straight through the uprights. Good guys were back on top for the final time, 22-12.
Chaos ensued in the following minutes, with lots of kicking back and forth from both teams, and possession went back and forth between line-outs and scrums. Play got sloppy from both sides as well, with multiple knock-ons called and eventually it was Chicago that took penalty advantage. They were able to penetrate our line with a couple of breaks, and scored their third try. Missed conversion kick, but the try narrowed our lead to 22-17.
We tried to stay calm and slow things down, but some scrappy play cost us meters after being sent back 10 multiple times off knock-on and offside calls. Chicago’s wings brought them closer into our zone on the outside, and their forwards had great crash-ball play to get them in our try zone. Game was tied at 22.
Wisconsin never gave up in the last 10 minutes of play, and continued to pound Chicago’s defense only meters away from the try-line. We had multiple opportunities, but for whatever reason just couldn’t find the gap to touch it down. After continuous back-and-forth play, we were still able to hold them defensively with huge rucks and tackles. In the end, it wasn’t quite enough, and Chicago scored one more time shortly before time expired. They took the win, 27-22.
Back of the Match: Sarah “HMB” Pinkston (Wing)
Forward of the Match: Emily “Emi” Frerichs (Flanker)
Player of the Match: Grace Hovde (Forwards Captain, 8-man)
*Next Up: WWRFC travels to Detroit for a rematch against the Detroit Women tomorrow, 10/22