Despite a slow start to the game, the Markham Irish senior women’s kept their undefeated season rolling with a well-deserved 50-10 victory over the Toronto Nomads on Thursday evening at Austin Drive.
Playing against a large, disciplined and experienced Nomads squad who showed up intent on claiming a major scalp, the Irish women knew they had to stick to the game plan in order to succeed. The opening 10 minutes provided some tough back and forth play with both teams playing aggressive, fast-up defense and quick, hard rucking. The ladies in green were looking to move the ball wide consistently to utilize their superior speed and ball-handling, while the Nomads were happy to keep the ball tight and take advantage of their large pack. Fullback Cheyenne DeLuca was eventually able to burst into the line, take an offload from winger Nikki Pahl and race into the end zone from 40 yards out to open the scoring, with Misha Maric adding the conversion.
The promising play of the home team was not to last as the Nomads took immediate advantage of the Irish’s divergence from the game plan; repeatedly cutting back inside to the waiting Nomads pack and taking multiple offside and “hands-in” penalties at the breakdown, scoring two tries out wide after multiple phases to take a 10-7 lead. The quality and toughness showed by the opposition, and the realization that no opposition should be taken lightly, started to dawn on the Markham ladies as they soon settled down and began to overcome the challenges being presented on the pitch. Starting to regain the momentum by reverting to our strengths, the Irish marched up the field with fly-half Lauren Cranfield eventually punching in a try after repeated pressure and led her teammates off the field at halftime with a 12-10 lead.
Growing in confidence and using their superior speed, fitness and attacking play out wide, the Irish added a quick try early in the 2nd half, with outside centre Kareece McGregor taking a perfectly timed offload from centre partner Tiffany Allen to burst through the tiring defenders and roar in from 30 yards out, touching down for her 10th try of the season. Sensing that an onslaught was inevitable, the Markham Irish team finally began to show the class that has been their trademark all year, and the rout was officially on. Cheyenne DeLuca sprinted in from 30 yards to score her team-leading 11th try, conversion smartly supplied by Misaha Maric. Soon after, junior-age “rookie” Anna Horner broke a tackle out on the wing and thundered in for another score, fly-half Lauren Cranfield taking over the kicking duties to add the extra 2 points. Cranfield then added two more converted tries of her own; one before and after a strong scoring run from back-rower Kimmee Meigs, to round out the scoring, clinching 1st place in the TRU West division, and a trip to the Intermediate Cup. It was incredible how well the entire team was able to rally from the pressure and obstacles placed by a feisty Nomads team, and record yet another convincing victory.
The Markham Irish women can finish the regular season with a perfect unbeaten record on Aug. 6 when we face the Mississauga Blues at Fletcher’s Fields.