Seventeen tries took the Loughborough Women’s first team to an astonishing 107-5 win over struggling Manchester on Wednesday at the first XV pitch. The win, which included six tries from captain Beth Newton, keeps hopes alive of a top three finish in the BUCS Premier North.

Signs were ominous for Manchester from the start, as two early tries gave the home team a 12-0 lead within the first five minutes. The visitors did strike back, however, as a quick free kick caught Loughborough off-guard to pull the score back to 12-5.

A 15 minute dry spell came after a third Loughborough try; and during that time it could be argued that two or three Manchester players should have seen yellow after three high tackles was punished only with penalties and what appeared to be a trip on centre Jo Kirkby wasn’t picked up on. However, Loughborough proved that they required no further advantage than the gap in quality as they ran in a further four tries to make the half time score 45-5.

Whatever was said at half time certainly served only to encourage the home side’s thirst for points; with Loughborough’s wing running in from halfway after taking a pass from full back, who was again involved as she got on the end of a sublime offload from Kirkby to run in from 60 metres.

The pick of the bunch came just minutes, and another try, later. Newton performed a switch with Kirkby, whose running angle left Manchester’s defensive line standing. She was then tackled, but good offloads from both her and outside half Laura Dowsett allowed Loughborough’s full back to finish.

If Kirkby was disappointed not to have scored her second of the game, she only had to wait another ten minutes for it to come. A strike against the head in Loughborough’s half gave Loughborough’s impressive full back another chance to power through and gain about 70 metres, before offloading to the centre to score between the posts.

The try that brought up the century was also one of the best. Dowsett spotted a massive overlap on the left hand side and played a perfectly timed cross-field kick which Newton gathered to complete her double hat-trick

The win takes Loughborough to within just three points of both Durham and Birmingham – who occupy second and third place respectively. They will travel to England’s second city on March 14with hopes of finishing above their current fourth place. However, before that they will have to focus on their semi-final against UWIC in Newbury on Monday.

Loughborough’s midfield unit of Dowsett, Newton and Kirkby were exceptional. Like last week, the player of the match was Beth Newton; not only for her six tries but also for the part she played in numerous others.


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