DMP Durham Sharks struggle to field side before 115-0 thrashing by unbeaten Bristol Bears

·5-min read
Robyn Lock of Bristol Bears celebrates winning the game- Mandatory by-line: Will Cooper/JMP Bristol Bears Women v DMP Durham Sharks, - DMP Durham Sharks struggle to field side before 115-0 thrashing by unbeaten Bristol Bears - SHUTTERSTOCK
Robyn Lock of Bristol Bears celebrates winning the game- Mandatory by-line: Will Cooper/JMP Bristol Bears Women v DMP Durham Sharks, - DMP Durham Sharks struggle to field side before 115-0 thrashing by unbeaten Bristol Bears - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Bristol Bears Women 115 - 0 DMP Durham Sharks

There was a loud cheer when the scoreboard in the far corner of Shaftesbury Park glitched as Bristol broke the century mark in this game. Clearly it had never been programmed for a triple-digit score, so it simply reset to 5-0, to the glee of the Bristol locals.

To the outsider, the impartial fan and broadcast channel weighing up whether to take a punt on putting Premier 15s rugby on television any time soon, it was in all likelihood, less humorous. As was the fact that Bristol, who were ruthless in punching a total of 19 tries past the struggling northern outfit, recorded another cricket score that will hardly be revered as a competitive advert for the country’s top women’s league.

Let that take nothing away from Bristol, whose slick offloading game and forward firepower was far superior to their opponents, and characterised by their ball-wrecking No 8 Rownita Marston, who was at the helm of their dominance. At the end of the day, you can only play what’s in front of you and in this case it was a squad that was scrambled together with some difficulty.

“This week was a real pinch point in terms of availability,” confirmed Mark Luffman, the DMP director of rugby who, up until recently, was working alongside Simon Middleton overseeing the senior England women’s side. “We have a lot of girls who are students, there were some graduations going on; as with every club we had a few injuries.”

So limited were DMP that they did not even have enough substitutes to replace Chloe Broom, their scrum-half, who was forced off midway through the second half, which meant they had to play the remainder of the match with 14 players. It was the third time in as many games that they had conceded 70 points or more.

Courtney Keight of Bristol Bears- Mandatory by-line: Will Cooper/JMP Bristol Bears Women v DMP Durham Sharks, UK - SHUTTERSTOCK
Courtney Keight of Bristol Bears- Mandatory by-line: Will Cooper/JMP Bristol Bears Women v DMP Durham Sharks, UK - SHUTTERSTOCK

Credit must go to Lisa Cockburn, the DMP captain, who ran from the field faster than anyone else at the half-time to reach the tunnel, acutely aware that this was not the time for negative body language. The visitors had shown resilience to hold up the hosts on the line after Bristol’s fourth, only for them to come roaring back from the restart and continue the frenzy. “No one likes the scorelines we’ve taken,” admitted Luffman. “The girls have been outstanding in terms of how they’ve worked and tried on the field. For me, it’s building the programme behind the girls that supports their performances on the field. I honestly couldn’t ask any more of them. They’re a really great bunch of girls.”

Dave Ward, Bristol’s director of rugby, was also sympathetic when drawn on the issue. “We spoke to DMP in the week and we knew they had a few issues,” he said. “All credit to them for one, getting a squad together and two, competing. Even at the end they almost scored and they probably should have.”

Notwithstanding the one-sided nature of this contest, Bristol look a very different beast to the one that struggled to string any consistency together last season. Under Ward, who joined the club last summer, they have claimed maximum points from their opening three games and have a new energy about them - epitomised through Courtney Keight’s clinical finishing, with the winger bagging five tries.

“I could name the whole bench,” said Ward, who unloaded all of his replacements when Bristol were 60-0 up by the break. “They really pushed the girls in front of them, which is exactly what they wanted. They also took pride in their own tryline and not conceding was a huge effort and huge achievement.”

Match details

Scoring sequence: 5-0 West try, 10-0 Keight try, 15-0 Reed try, 20-0 Murray try, 22-0 Snowsill con, 27-0 Bern try, 29-0 Snowsill con, 34-0 Keight try, 39-0 Keight try, 41-0 Snowsill con, 46-0 Murray try, 51-0 Bevan try, 53-0 Reed con, 58-0 West try, 60-0 Reed con, 65-0 Keight try, 67-0 Skuse con, 72-0 Keight try, 77-0 Murray try, 79-0 Skuse con, 84-0 Lillicrap try, 86-0 Skuse con, 91-0 Lock try, 96-0 Lock try, 101-0 Skuse, try, 106-0 Martin try, 108-0 Skuse con, 113-0 Butchers try. 115-0 Skuse con.

Bristol: J Hesketh, K Martin, P Murray, A Reed (M Webb 41), C Keight, E Snowsill (L Skuse 41), K Bevan (L Burgess 41); S Pam (C Kill 41), H West (R Lock 41), S Bern (E Mulhearn 41), H Cunningham (D Burns 72), A Ward, A Butchers, M Johnes, R Marston (S Lillicrap 38).

DMP: H Thorpe (S Craggs 55) E Jennings (A Layzell 50), L Taylor, C Cookland (A Layzell 55), R Inman (A Ishida 50), A Lewis, C Broom; E Hunter (S Thomas-Thompson 60), A Bainbridge (Z Teece 55), S Herrick (E Pigford 50) M Gardner, T Cowan, M Picut, T Gordon, C Storer.

Referee: Ricardo Sant’Anna

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting