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Senior Womens Head Coach, WO2 Sarah Mitchelson (RLC) says that Saturday’s win over Sweden can give the squad confidence as the build-up to the 2023 Inter-Services Championship continues over the next few weeks.

WO2 Mitchelson used the game against Sweden – an international team which has developed considerably over the last few years to move up into the World Rugby top 20 – to run the rule over new players as well as more familiar faces, and there would have been plenty to take away into upcoming fixtures.

After having held out early pressure from the visitors, the Army scored 18 unanswered points in the first half to take control of the contest. However after the break the bulk of the action was played deep in the red shirts’ half, as Sweden threw wave after wave of attack at the hosts’ defence.

But the Army held out until the final few minutes, despite losing three players to the sin bin at various points, conceding a late try to win 18-5.

It was eye-catching resilience, but while WO2 Mitchelson said that this was good to see, at times the Army were their own worst enemies.

“I’m happy with the resilience but frustrated that we had to give those yellow cards away,” she said, “and frustrated that it got to the point where we were losing players and giving penalties away.”

However, as with all teams which have a limited number of fixtures before their main competition gets underway, WO2 Mitchelson knows that getting the ‘W’ into the results column can generate some positive momentum.

“It’s really good to get some confidence and we’ve got that straight away,” she also told BFBS. “I wasn’t here to win the game, but we’ve got a win and it’s made me feel better. The girls are all smiling as well.

“I’m eager to see players play with really good players around them, and that’s why this fixture and our next fixture against the Police are getting to bring those players in.”

To this end WO2 Mitchelson acknowledged the contribution of the Army’s contingent of Premier 15s players, including SSgt Jade Mullen (AGC (SPS)), Bdr Bethan Dainton (RA), Pte Courtney Pursglove (RLC), LCpl Millie Williams (AGC (RMP)) and two-try Spr Lauren Brooks (RE) in setting the standards for the lesser experienced members of the group.

“You always look for senior players to set the standard and they’ve been setting it for some time now,” she said. “They’re inspirational, and that makes you want to be like them.

“They did it at the trial as well. Without them the girls who are trialing don’t always get a great opportunity, but with them around them they got that opportunity to see what it’s like to play like top players and to be inspired to be like them.”

The Army Women are next in action against the British Police as part of a red shirt double-header in Aldershot on Wednesday, January 25th. Kick off at the Army Rugby Stadium will be at 1500hrs, ahead of the Senior Men’s match against the British Police.

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Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks

All images – Alligin Photography © Cat Goryn