November Run Down
November was a busy one and a lot has gone down this month, so before we get stuck in to December we’re catching you up on the essential results.
With the first season of the restructured Women’s Super League and Championship almost at its half-way point (the men’s equivalent competition, by contrast, is still only a third of the way through) it’s a good time to take stock. In both divisions a dominant front runner is emerging. Arsenal have continued their 100% record, sweeping aside Birmingham City, Everton and Brighton & Hove Albion with ease this month. They’ve conceded just 2 whilst putting 11 past their opponents. Credit must go to manager Joe Montemurro, who has been in the post only for a year, for turning a team that was tamely sunk by Chelsea in last season’s FA Cup Final into a winning machine. The only concern for Arsenal now is the recent season ending injury to creative midfielder Jordan Nobbs, their second highest goal scorer so far behind Vivianne Miedema. They will be without the stalwart for what could be their toughest test of the season so far facing Manchester City away from home this weekend.
The Gunners’ exemplary goal difference of 37 is surpassed only by Championship leaders Manchester United who are likely to join them in the top flight next year. The Red Devils swept aside promotion rivals Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 at the beginning of the month, and have continued in fine form. They put 5 past Crystal Palace away from home and thrashed bottom placed Millwall Lionesses 8-0 in a crowd pleasing home victory last weekend. With the top two sides from the Championship securing a space in next year’s top flight, Tottenham Hotspur – who’s only defeat this season has come at the hands of the league leaders – will look to claim the remaining slot.
After seeing off fellow title contenders Loughborough Lightning 29-0 last weekend, Saracens regained top spot in the Tyrrells Premier 15s. Despite going into the fixture unbeaten Loughborough delivered a paltry performance away from home. Unable even to get on the scoreboard, the bonus point loss conceded the league lead. Both sides were without experienced players away on international duty, with Loughborough fielding 10 players not in their usual starting XV. It’s still tight in the race for the title though with only four points separating the top three going into December. Nevertheless Saracens will consider themselves in a strong position, their defence is proving easily the best in the league this season conceding only 88 points over the first nine matches.
Away from their club Loughborough players Katy Daley-Mclean and Carys Williams were in the spotlight for opposing reasons on international duty in the month. Daley-Mclean won her momentus 100th cap against USA Women, becoming only the fifth red rose to do so. Meanwhile centre Williams secured her first cap. The debutant impressed in the first game adding her name to the scoreboard with a late try. After brushing aside the USA with a 52-5 win, England completed their trio of internationals with a 35-15 win over Japan and 37-15 demolition of rivals Ireland.
Whilst their 15s counterparts were laying the groundwork for a successful Six Nations, which takes place early next year, the 7s team finished sixth at the Dubai Sevens following defeat at the hands of Russia, despite winning their Pool B. The tournament is significant as it is the second stage of the World Series, the top four teams of which qualify for the Olympics.
With the high of the Commonwealth games having set the benchmark for what the nation expects of the Vitality Roses, England have played their first match back on home soil. On Monday night England faced up against Uganda in Liverpool ahead of two further matches scheduled for the weekend. With Jo Harten still injured and consigned to Sky’s commentary team, England have been testing a Housby/Dunn attack partnership with mixed success. After establishing a convincing nine goal first half lead, they missed a bevy of chances to allow the Cranes to draw level at 43-43 going into the final quarter. Seemingly pressure suits England however as they regained their earlier dominance to put seven past Uganda closing out the game 50-46.
Off court the Roses have secured a new Nike kit sponsorship deal giving the team the global brand backing that should help to raise the profile of their sport. Launching with a conservatively designed red dress, we’re excited to see where this collab goes in the future.
After failing to make the final at last year’s ODI World Cup, Australia ensured that failure was firmly in the past as they eased to victory over England in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 final. England had a jittery route to the final. After starting strong against Bangladesh, a game in which they gave debuts to Sophia Dunkley, Kirstie Gordon and Linsey Smith, they looked comfortable against South Africa before losing to the West Indies in their final group stage game. In the semi-final they cruised past a usually formidable India, who have been beset by allegations of camp disgruntlement, with criticism particularly directed to superstar batter Mitahli Raj.
However in the crunch match, the ODI World Champions were no match for the might of Australia. Bowled out for 105, in the final over, Australia surpassed their run tally with 4.5 overs to spare. This result will cement Australia’s position as the best in the world in this format. The Aussies have beaten England in the 2012, 2014 and 2018 events, although lost out to the West Indies in the 2016 final. Both England and their Southern Hemisphere rivals boast a glut of young players which will leave fans enthused for future clashes as they grow in strength and confidence.
If you want to go down in history as a great in your sport, winning seven world titles seems like a pretty solid way to ensure you do. That is the achievement accomplished by Stephanie Gilmore as she equalled Layne Beachley’s women’s record last weekend. The scene was set for a climactic end of season showdown between the Aussie and her American challenger Lakey Peterson. However this failed to materialise as Peterson was eliminated in the second round of the Maui Pro event. This is Gilmore’s first world title since 2014, having secured her first in 2007. At just 30 – Beachley won her last of her world titles at 34 – there’s still time for Gilmore to add to her titles.