Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Warwick Wolverines - Coventry Cougars Game Report

by Philip Gaydon

A well-fought, highly-charged contest ended as a 6-6 draw on Saturday when the Warwick Wolverines hosted the Coventry Cougars.

The highly-experienced Cougars came into the game as favourites after dishing out some convincing defeats to the Elite’s Hybrid teams in the past months. However, a full-strength Wolverines squad (something not yet seen this season) was determined to defeat the odds.

Coventry Cougars (left to right): Millie Barrett, Sophie Jones, Becca Haw, Holli Milner, Kellie Barrett
Coventry Cougars (left to right): Millie Barrett, Sophie Jones, Becca Haw, Holli Milner, Kellie Barrett

It was clear from the first snap that neither side was going to give up any yards lightly. Both defences made pat-downs and tackles aplenty to keep the offences to short yardage.

For the Cougars, Sophie Jones and Becca Haw weren’t letting any of Warwick’s sweeps and dives slip past them and Millie Barrett looked as calm and confident as ever at safety. On the Wolverines’ defence Jessica Critchley did enough to keep the Cougars’ middle-run under control and Martha Michaud, Louise Lee, and Carly Moorhouse were giving up nothing over a few yards on the pass.

Perhaps it was the absence of the Cougars’ blitzer extraordinaire Kellie Barrett or the athleticism of Wolverines speed-demon Rebecca Tyson but it was Warwick’s offense that broke the deadlock in the first half.

After quarterback Erin Robinson strung together several throws to get Warwick into position, Tyson was able to finally find a chink in the Cougars’ armour and burst down field. It was only a final tackle by Millie that stopped her going all the way. From such short yardage however the Cougars were powerless to stop Robinson from finding Tyson on a quick slant into the end-zone. The point-after wasn’t converted but the Wolverines were up 0-6.

Despite putting in some impressive deep throws Millie couldn’t quite march the Cougars down the field and the half ended with Warwick on top.

Warwick Wolverines (left to right): Back - Ailsa Miller, Erin Robinson, Carly Moorhouse, Louise Lee, Rachel Wallace. Front - Martha Michaud, Jamie Day, Rebecca Tyson, Jessica Critchley

During the break a loud voice rang across the field that put smiles on the Cougars’ faces – the other Barrett had arrived and she had no qualms about letting everyone know she meant business.

Kellie made an explosive start to the second half and blitzed hard to throw off Warwick’s rhythm. The Cougars didn’t waste any time on offense either. The team sprinted down the pitch to set themselves before Warwick knew what was happening. It was only the attention of Warwick corner Louise Lee that stopped the Cougars scoring immediately, but amidst continuing confusion and missed tackles Kellie ran most of the field to put a score on the board for the Cougars. A tense extra point wasn’t converted and the scores stood level at 6-6

Resolution descended on both defences. Warwick made consistent drives but couldn’t crack the Cougars’ again. The Cougars continued to attempt the deep throws but the Wolverines weren’t about to let this one slip away. Indeed, the pat-downs soon turned to interceptions, but even when given short yardage to defend neither side would let up.

After an exciting final two minutes which saw both the Cougars and Wolverines mount impressive but unsuccessful attacks the result stood as a well-fought draw: 6-6.

What is clear is that the skill and athleticism of the women’s game is on the rise. Not only were the veteran players making catches, cuts, reads, and spins rarely seen a year ago, but the younger players such as Holli Milner (13) and Lauren Power (12) never seemed out of place.

Captains Jessica Critchley (Wolverines) and Millie Barrett (Cougars) expressed just how exciting the game had been and how they would be ready for a re-match soon.


Cougars – Kellie Barrett
Wolverines – Martha Michaud (defense)/Rebecca Tyson (offense)

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