Fordham hosted the Bard Women’s Rugby team for its first game of the season on Saturday and, playing across the street from the Bronx Zoo, the Raptors were in beast-mode for much of the afternoon. While the final scoreline reads 41-32 to the hosts, when the second half shifted from 13s to 10s rugby, Bard turned up the heat and outscored Fordham 32-17.
Bard Women 32 vs 41 Fordham Women
Tries: Patricia Sicat (3)
Cons: Patricia Sicat (1)
The game began encouragingly as Bard kicked to Fordham and an immediate knock-on led to possession in enemy territory. That’s where the action remained for the next ten minutes as senior Ariadne Sinnis-Bourozikas ran a tight ship at scrumhalf and an extremely wily pack anchored by a front-row of Grace Sanger-Johnson, captain Nellie Bowen, and Abby Freer dominated rucks. Bard won nearly a dozen phases consecutively deep in Fordham’s half and looked like a well-oiled machine out of the gates. While the physicality in rucks was dominated by Bard, the technicality was not quite up to the same par. Poor placements after tackles or players kicking balls going into rucks prevented Bard from scoring early and allowed Fordham to clear the end with an athletic run, keeping the game scoreless.
The Raptors then lost Sinnis-Bourozikas to injury and her steadying presence was immediately missed. Co-captain Patricia Sicat stepped into scrumhalf, moving Tilly Barickman to flyhalf, Amber Fowlie to center and Lou Rosenblatt to fullback. The offense lost its fluidity and Fordham gained confidence. Rosenblatt threw themself around, making a couple try-saving tackles and looking like an experienced veteran despite being their first game; they did their best to keep the score 0-0 nearly 20 minutes into the game. While individual players made their tackles, the backline defense did not always look like a unit and too often Bard did not come up to meet ball-carriers. Eventually, Bard’s backs not coming up allowed Fordham to score the first try and gain a 7-0 edge. The hosts added three more tries to take a 24-0 halftime lead and Bard’s confidence seemed shaken.
The second half, however, was played with 10 players per side and, with more open field, the Bard players thrived. They could’ve folded at the half when their captain Bowen and Rosenblatt joined Sinnis-Bourozikas on the sidelines with injuries, but instead rallied and ran up the score in the second half. Bard scored the first try of the half and Sicat converted making it 24-7. Then, Bard added the next try making it 24-12 and getting back into the game. Fowlie, in her first game action, bumped into scrumhalf and showed immense potential; at one point, she ran about 40 meters and made three solo tackles to prevent a try! Offensively, she had some incredibly athletic runs and generally decent passes. This also allowed Sicat and Barickman to move back to flyhalf and center respectively where they each excel. The 9-10-12 unit of Fowlie-Sicat-Barickman was an absolute nuisance in the second half; they supported each other and demonstrated poise, knowing when to offload and when to take the ball to ground for a ruck. Each was a threat to score, including a nifty runback off a kickoff from Barickman that almost went all the way. All in all, Bard’s backline was an offensive threat that Forhdam simply could not contain in the second half. Sicat ended the day with three tries but Barickman and Fowlie aided and abetted the attack.
Up front, the pack also had more room to run in the second half and took advantage. Sanger-Johnson and Freer both made some powerful romps down the field without yielding in the rucks. Freshman Rhayne Orta became more involved in the play as she gained experience in her first game action. The scrum looked much improved, also, as Bard scored three tries directly out of scrum plays in the second half!
At the end, Bard put up 32 points to Fordham’s 41. Still, Bard has to feel extremely proud of their effort and encouraged moving forward.
1) Grace Sanger-Johnson 2) Nellie Bowen 3) Abby Freer 4) Rhayne Orta
9) Ariadne Sinnis-Bourozikas 10) Patricia Sicat 11) Lou Rosenblatt 12) Tilly Barickman 15) Amber Fowlie
*Forhdam provided subs to fill in missing positions