The unbeaten Gloucester-Hartpury women’s rugby side will lock horns with the Teddington Antlers at Kingsholm on Saturday (5.30pm kick-off), looking to cap their debut season with a cup final berth.
Susie Appleby’s side, who have three friendly and four cup wins to their name this season, will face off against the RFUW National Challenge South West One side in the Women’s National Junior Cup semi-final. They will take on last year’s losing finalists in what will be their first game at Kingsholm.
The team will be largely unchanged from their quarter-final victory over Old Leamingtonians but debuts will be handed to Hartpury AASE students Daisy Fahey, who comes in at fly half, and Molly Morrisey, who will slot in at second row, as both return from injury.
“To find ourselves in the semi-final in our first season is an amazing feeling,” Susie said.
“As we are not part of a league structure yet, the cup is really our only regular chance for competitive rugby.
“Because we haven’t played many games, we have yet to actually play a home game so running out at Kingsholm will be an amazing experience. I’m hoping the home support will give us an edge as well. They are always very vocal after all and hopefully lots of them will stay on after the Saints clash!
“I don’t know a lot about our opposition aside from that they compete well in their league and will provide us with a good contest. We’re more concerned with focusing on our performance and will react to whatever is put in front of us on the day. If we get our performance right, I really believe we can make it to the final.”
“It’s a massive game and it’s great to see that we’ve been handed an incredibly experienced referee in Sara Cox, who has recently taken charge of her first Women’s Six Nations clash.”
The women’s side overcame an early scare in their cup quarter-final, trailing 12-7 to Warwickshire side Old Leamingtonians at half-time before storming back with 24 unanswered points to win 31-12.
“The aim at the start of the season was really to get as many women as we can involved in the sport and enjoying playing. We’ve got around 30 players now and it’s great that we’ve had the chance to sign up a couple of the girls who are on the strong AASE programme at Hartpury.
“Their addition has allowed me to target tougher opposition in our friendly matches and we’ve had a couple of really tight games and have still got fixtures against two well established sides, Swindon Supermarine and Bath.”
The team, in its first season as the Gloucester-Hartpury franchise, has gone unbeaten in seven games. Set up with the aim of growing the women’s game in Gloucestershire and building a side to eventually compete in the Women’s Premiership, the team’s cup run and success in a crop of friendlies will provide a great springboard to build upon.