ON Saturday 16th December, Northallerton ladies team ‘the Nightmares’ travelled the 100 miles to play against the Driffield ladies in a curtain raiser game prior to the mens local derby against Bridlington.

With the Nightmares missing a number of players due to work duties and holiday they were down to the bare minimum. Among those missing was influential captain Sara Melaney, who was unable to get out of work. A great boost for the Mares was the arrival of new backs coach Alan Irvine.

Due to the missing players, the Mares had to 'mix and match' on positions which meant 'Captain for the day' Emma Linthwaite had to play scrum half, a very different position for a lock to find herself in.

So kick off ensured, with the Nightmares still asleep from the journey down to East Yorkshire the Driffield ladies ran in three quick unconverted tries. The Driffield ladies have some fabulous backs who at first outclassed Norths Ladies. Eventually the Mares woke up and started playing proper rugby, Claire Attiwell stole a line out and following some good handling and communication between the forwards allowed Sarah Walley to go over the line for her first try of the match on her debut. Natalie Gardiner converted the try after her usual pep talk from kicking coach Dave Morgan, making the score 15-7. The game carried on with some excellent work from the backs trying to find a hole in the tight defence, regular winger Natasha Hambly kept her wing clear, outside centre Lynne Hoggart made some try saving tackles and carried the ball well, Steph Welford, out of position on the wing kept her opposite number tight and closed down effectively. The Driffield ladies found a gap but Lucia Kocurova as full back made a cracking tackle to prevent another try. Some good defensive work from the Nightmares prevented any further tries within the first half and with the half time whistle, the score at 15-7, the Nightmares refused to allow this let their heads go down.

After an encouraging team talk from the coaches the Nightmares decided that the traditional Northallerton play was in order, they made it a forwards game, slowing the ball and playing how they wanted to. The Nightmares made slow but sure work, releasing it occasionally to the backs to run it up a bit, and then turning it back to forwards to work it up the pitch. With the return from injury of Lynn Cunningham joining her partner in crime Jamie Chapman at front row, the new hooker Sarah was in safe hands, some good contested scrummaging allowed the Mares to gain ground which in turn set up the second try for the Mares, coming from second row Sarah Cowper who stormed over the line. The try was unconverted. The Nightmares had the bit between their teeth and went for it again, Becca Snook made a good strong run, was tackled but passed to Sarah Walley who dodged a couple of tackles but as she was brought down offloaded to Jess Cheesman to score a third try, again unconverted.

Now with captain Emma Linnthwaite in the back line Sarah Hall was playing scrum half, at another scrum the Nightmares were off again with more brilliant work and communication resulting in a second try for Sarah Walley. The Driffield ladies made a come back, with some great running from their backs again, then their forwards rucking skills which kept them in the Nightmares 22. The Mares had a reprieve in the form of a knock on, scrum down to the Nightmares, the referee stated that it was the last play of the game. After a huge scrum from both sides the ball was at Claires feet who then offloaded the ball to Jess who promptly kicked the ball out for the final whistle. Final score Driffield 20 Nightmares 22.

The amazing thing is that none of the Mares actually realised they had won until they were called in and told by Debs! Each and every Nightmare who pulled a shirt on was fabulous on the day, credit to players who played out of position, some work still to concentrate on but a good strong performance non the less. After some bar games and singing the Nightmares returned back to Northallerton to continue the celebrations.