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The Army Women went down to a 27-0 home defeat to an impressive Sweden side on a windy afternoon in Aldershot.

Having won their opening two fixtures against Pacific Islanders and Brunel University, it was a step-up in opposition as the Scandanavians completed their preparations for the Rugby Europe Championship starting next month, and it was the international side who came out strongly.

Early ill-discipline from the hosts – particularly in conceding three high tackles inside five minutes – gave the initiative to Sweden, and they opened the scoring when Cornelia Noren cut a beautiful line to dot down for a straightforward conversion knocked over by Linda Hakansson.

With the wind at their backs, the Red Shirts had their best chance of the opening 30-minute period when a well-timed pass from captain SSgt Jade Mullen (AGC (SPS)) got Gnr Amy Carr (RA) on the front foot, only for the ball to eventually be knocked on near the try-line.

The hosts began the second period well, before Sweden took control with three fine tries.

Firstly, a powerful break from Marielle Andersson took the visitors storming from their own 22 into opposition territory, and when the ball was spread wide, LBdr Jess McAuley (RA) was harshly sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on 40 metres from her try-line.

The visitors took advantage of the numerical advantage – albeit only after butchering a two-on-one overlap – when they forced a penalty near the whitewash, Catrina Thrin taking a quick tap before darting over.

Hakansson’s conversion was hooked low and left, but her side came again quickly and a slick handling move among the three-quarters – for whom outside centre Tess Proos was outstanding – was easily finished on the right by Sara Jakobsson.

Things got worse before the end of the second period, Army losing a scrum against the head before the ball was again shipped wide for Jakobsson to double her tally.

The final stanza saw both sides play 10 minutes with the conditions in their favour, but despite heading back into the wind, it was Sweden who moved 27-0 in front as another of their star performers, Hanna Borgemyr, freed Jakobsson to complete a fine hat-trick.

The Army continued to battle, and nearly got on the scoreboard only for Capt Sam West (RLC) to be held up over the line following some good pressure.

However, that was as good as it got for the hosts, with the final 10 minutes featuring plenty of commitment without any clear-cut chances for either side, the Swedes heading off to their meeting with Netherlands in fine fettle as the Army look to continue building with a series of matches before Inter-Services in May.

Words © Richard Ashton

All images – Alligin Photography © Cat Goryn


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