Barnsley Ladies have one hand on Championship trophy

Barnsley Ladies 8, Birkenhead 8

(National Championship 2 North)

Barnsley Ladies are just a win away from  third successive league title
after a bruising encounter at Shaw Lane.

Barnsley opened the scoring with a fifth minute from Becky
Patrick, standing in as kicker from Alix Taylor, who missed the match
after picking up a shoulder injury in the previous match.

The home team dominated the scrum early on but a series of penalties pushed them back and Birkenhead drew level with a penalty of their own after 10 minutes.

The visitors then took the lead with a try in the corner from their centre after a sustained offence in the Barnsley 22, but the conversion attempt was short of the mark.

Barnsley started to push forward  and were rewarded with a try from Sarah Palmer five minutes before the break, but Patrick’s conversion attempt was just wide, leaving the scores level at 8-8.

The second half was arguably the most exciting half of rugby either team will play this season.

Birkenhead were extremely fortunate to still have 15 players on the pitch at the end after the referee yellow carded the Birkenhead flanker for a punch and then called her back on the pitch for another lecture for dissent as she was walking off.

Both teams had chances to win but their defences held firm.

Birkenhead’s best chance came from a chipover the defence but they were thwarted with a last gasp tackle just short of the Barnsley line.

Barnsley’s final chance also came from a chip over the top but a Birkenhead defender got to the ball first in the goal area and grounded it, only for the referee to call a halt to the proceedings with honours even and both teams’ unbeaten record still intact.

Barnsley are 11 points in front of Birkenhead after playing a game more, but their superior points difference and seven extra try bonus points mean that a win at Sunderland in a fortnight’s time should seal the league title.

However, this does not mean automatic promotion, as the winners of National Championship 2 North will face the winners of National Championship 2 Midlands in a play off to advance to Championship 1 North.

Next week Barnsley travel to Kenilworth for the quarter final of the
Intermediate Cup. With both teams looking evenly matched on paper it
should be a cracking encounter.

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