League leaders Broughton Park beat Vagabonds 60-0 at Ballafletcher in Women’s NC1 North West on Saturday afternoon..
But the scoreline is a little deceptive as Park led 43-0 at half-time and a much grittier Vagas’ second half performance blunted the attack.
If the second half Vagabonds had been there for the first half too, the scoreline may have looked a little different, but the performance should give the squad a big lift as they move into the second part of their season.
Broughton took the lead only three minutes in. A midfield penalty was tapped quickly and second row Teresa Perez was lurking out wide and strolled in to score.
They doubled the lead just after 10 minutes when Maisie Phillips galloped home down the left wing. Caoimhe Morris converted this for a 12-0 lead.
There then followed two tries in quick succession. Former Vagabond Emily Webb raced in from halfway for the first and from the restart Nina Nsonwu’s powerful run set up a huge gap for Rebekah Wilson to run through. Morris converted both and, with barely 15 minutes gone, the league leaders were 26-0 up.
By the half-hour the lead had grown further. Teresa Perez went through some indifferent tackling for her second and Emily Webb also grabbed a second with a 50-metre run after a Vagabonds attack had been turned over.
Morris’ conversion attempts came to nought and, with half-time approaching, Broughton were 36-0 in front.
But there was enough time left for one more. Another Vagabonds attack was thwarted and Broughton countered. The ball was shipped to left wing Roisin Kelly who ran in the try. Morris added the extras to leave the half-time lead at 43-0.
Vagas coach Jack Caine must have delivered a half-time team talk of biblical proportions as an almost new team appeared in the second half: tackles started to be made, passes suddenly stuck.
In the forwards Fran Hunt stole ball and made hard yards, while in the backline Jo Bell and Maylyn Campbell parked a defensive bus.
The line wasn’t totally impenetrable, it just needed something special to break it and that was exactly what Broughton Park delivered.
Nine minutes in, Emily Webb found a gap on the left wing and headed deep into Vagas’ territory. Maylyn Campbell’s last-ditch tackle prevented a try but yielded a penalty which was tapped quickly and hooker Caterina Or Kam Fat was the beneficiary.
The jewel in the Webb crown came midway through the half. Vagas had pinned Broughton on their own line and were repeatedly hitting them behind the gain-line as they searched for a mistake.
The mistake never arrived. Broughton kept their cool and eventually worked the ball wide to Webb who found a half-gap on the left touchline and, with Vagas pressing up, once she was behind their line there was no catching her when she lit the afterburners for a 90-metre score. Morris converted to make it 55-0.
Some 19 of the final 20 minutes were scoreless with most of the action taking place in the middle third.
Both defences were strong enough to prevent any further scores until the final play of the game.
Some tired Vagas legs allowed Broughton to get close to the try line and Roisin Kelly dived in from close range to round off the afternoon.
Webb was by far the star of the game for Broughton as she scored three and made a fourth. For Vagabonds, the Fran Hunt cameo was a reminder of how good she is but the powerful tackling of Maylyn Campbell showed that the future is just as good as the past.DAVE CHRISTIAN