On Saturday January 28th, Old Pueblo Lightning traveled 21 players strong to Ventura California to take on the defending league champions, the Outlaws. Conditions were windy and sunny and the pitch was a bit narrow but the turf itself was lush. Emotions and expectations were high for this rematch, but the team had put in the effort to prepare for the contest. They were not disappointed...
Lightning showed aggressive defense in the first half, punctuated by solid hits and tactical counter rucking. This seemed to disrupt Ventura’s plan of attack. Ventura also seemed to not have an answer to Lightning’s offensive patterns. Through a deliberate execution of our game plan, Lightning produced a multitude of “team tries” from forwards and backs that seemed to drop the spirits of Ventura. Special call out to our forwards in the lineout. The wind was not a major interruption and the backs received good ball from that set piece. Half time score was 24-5 Lightning.
Lightning expected a strong second half push from Ventura, and we had to play solid defense for the first 10 minutes of the second half. A number of goal line stands occurred where Ventura did not prevail. After that, Ventura’s intensity faded and Lightning scored an additional 27 points. Final score, 51-5 Lightning.
Player highlights include the player of the match, Morgan Haggerty, for her aggressive defensive and offensive plays. She stole numerous balls in open play and post tackles, and cut through the defense for easy additional meters to keep the defense on their back foot. Fly-half Alex Rath connected well with centers Ruby Parks and Em Bowen. The Ventura defense was hesitant in backline defense decision making, and it resulted in many line breaks and scores, including the 3 try scorer Tina Aprahamian. Special thanks to veteran players Ria Joseph and Amber Jones that traveled from afar to join this victorious campaign.
Lightning still has much to work on if this team is to become the championship team they believe they can be. The team became less devoted to the defensive pattern in the second half of the game. We lost too many balls in the tackle for failure to support the offensive ruck, and our scrums were inconsistent. We have much to be proud of, and much still to accomplish.