Season review 2017-18: Army frozen out at Aldershot

KatEvansTry670.jpg

We’re showcasing each of the seven matches the Barbarians played in 2017-18 over the course of this week. The Baa-baas scored 36 tries in seven games of attacking excitement — seven of them in this game against the Army in March.

The campaign had seen the launch of a superstar women’s team in November – as well as the club’s record victory against England and two thrillers against New Zealand and Australia. 

The women’s side – with Giselle Mather and Lisa Burgess coaching – had to cope with treacherous freezing conditions but still attacked with traditional Barbarians style.

Wings Elen Evans (Carnaerfon & Wales) and Sydney Gregson (Bristol & England) both touched down twice in the first half with the other tries coming from uncapped Saracens hooker Kat Evans, USA and Harlequins full back Jess Wooden and Wasps and Germany lock Nora Baltruweit. Ireland’s Nora Stapleton landed one conversion.

Kayla McAlister

Kayla McAlister produced a thrilling performance on her debut

The Baa-baas had a stand-out performer in New Zealand sevens superstar Kayla McAlister – too hot to handle when Stapleton and Georgina Roberts gave her space to work in – while Spain flanker Isabel Rico Vazquez and captain Rachel Taylor also impressed.

McAlister had Olympics and World Sevens Series expertise on her CV but this was only her second 15-a-side appearance and she had a hand in most Barbarians tries. Her appearance also completed the first sibling combination to play for the club – her brother is former All Blacks fly half Luke McAlister, who appeared for the club against England later in 2018.

Saracens hooker Evans opened the scoring from close range before McAlister created the openings for Evans’s 50metre run to the line and Gregson’s dash down the right.

Isabel Rico Vazquez

Spain's Isabel Rico Vazquez – with Wales's Rachel Taylor in support

The Baa-baas kept the ball alive through a mixture of cross-kicks and offloads before Stapleton put Gregson in for her second in the 20th minute.

There were two more before the break with Wooden touching down on the right and Elen Evans grabbing her second after Stapleton’s slick cut-out pass.

It looked like the Barbarians would cut loose after the interval, particularly when Baltruweit powered over from close range in the 45th minute.

But the Army dug in after that, their replacements all made an impact going into the final quarter and the Barbarians had Gillian Bourke sin-binned 10 minutes from time to prevent them from adding further scores.

Sydney Gregson

Bristol & England wing Sydney Gregson scored twice 

Barbarians: Jessica Wooden (Harlequins & USA); Sydney Gregson (Bristol & England), Kayla McAlister (Galwegians), Georgina Roberts (DMP Sharks & England), Elen Evans (Caernarfon & Wales); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere & Ireland), Tina Veale (Wasps & England); Claire Cripps (Wasps & England), Katharine Evans (Saracens), Catrin Edwards (Llandaff North & Wales), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere & Ireland), Nora Baltruweit (Wasps & Germany), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere & Ireland), Isabel Rico Vazquez (Olimpico de Pozuelo & Spain), Rachel Taylor (Caernarfon & Wales, captain).

Replacements: Tracey Balmer (Worcester & Scotland), Rosemarie Jermine (Lichfield & England), Amy Garnett (Saracens & England), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians & Ireland), Sian Moore (Worcester & Wales), Vicki Jackson (Wasps & England), Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond & England).