By Nick Friend
Durham Women’s 1st XV provided a fantastic exhibition of attacking rugby, dismantling long standing rivals Birmingham in their 5th BUCS match of the season. In spite of the rivalry, this Birmingham side is not what it once was. On the back of a narrow escape from relegation last year, Birmingham now sit bottom of the Premier North Division, with their goal difference an astonishing 662 points worse off than that of their visitors.
Despite their opponents’ travails, Durham arrived with a thoroughly professional mindset. Making their intentions clear from the outset, a fast start saw flanker Rue Joe-Laidler go over inside the first three minutes to give Durham an early lead. The tone was set and, from then on, the hosts hardly had a single spell in possession. Further first half tries from Broadway, Stephens, Birkby, Halcrow, Gough, Lee and Pitcher along with seven conversions meant that Durham went in at the break a mere 59 points up on their scoreless opponents.
With the game virtually in the bag barring anything nothing short of miraculous, Durham could have taken their foot off the pedal and sauntered to a comfortable victory. However, this was never likely. Some incredible phases of play by the forwards coupled with some spectacular runs from the backs pinned a sorry Birmingham side on the back foot. Now comfortably in their stride, the Palatinates continued to power through Birmingham’s forwards, whilst running rings around their back line. Even when some key players were given a rest, the tries continued to flow. Second tries for Halcrow, Stephens, Pitcher and man of the match Jade Birkby as well as scores for Hind and Reynolds gave Durham a quite staggering 113-0 advantage by full time – the highest score Durham has ever put down against any team in the Premiership.
Perhaps more impressive than the final scoreline – for the hosts were going through the motions by full-time – was the exemplary attitude of the Durham side as they kept to their high standards for all eighty minutes. The league leaders head to id-table Edinburgh next Wednesday as they look to maintain their ominous form.