Great Britain captures victory in Women’s Worlds debut
Photo credit: Geoff White (gw-images)
By Ameeta Vohra
A solid defensive effort helped Great Britain begin their first World Championship on a winning note, defeating Finland 27-21.
The game was not only Great Britain’s first appearance at the World Championship, but it also was a rematch of the 2015 European Championship between these two teams. Finland won that game 50-12.
In the first half, Great Britain’s defence came alive by relentlessly continuing to pressure Finland pivot Jonna Hakkarainen and the offence. With 1:15 left before the half, Finland turned over the ball to Great Britain and they capitalized on it. In the dying seconds, Jessica Anderson scored on a 50 yard pass and rush touchdown.
After building a 13-7 lead at halftime, Great Britain continued to go after the Finland offence. It paid off in the third quarter as Lucy Kirk caught an interception and ran it down the field for a 42-yard major.
Finland tried to mount a late comeback in the game as Emmi Jam reeled in a 20-yard touchdown reception with 3:09 remaining. On their final drive, Finland was within reach of getting the equalizer when Sari Kuosmanen had a spectacular catch to take the ball within Great Britain territory. Then, Hakkarainen connected with Sanni Seppala or a reception which got the ball on the 5-yard line. However, the comeback fell short as Great Britain’s defensive wall stifled Finland’s offence.
Great Britain Head Coach Jim Messenger said that the team was fortunate to escape with the victory.
“It was a terrific game today,” he said. “We really had to dig hard because Finland is such as well-rounded team.”
“They are a well-run, well-coached team. They played better on offence and defence all-around than we did but we made those opportunities through those situations, took our chances when we had them and we’re very fortunate to come out with the win today.”
As for Finland, costly errors determined their fate in the game.
“They were just the better team today,” commented Finland Head Coach Mika Eloranta. “We had two turnovers that were very tough for us because they scored off both of them.”
“Otherwise in the second half, our team played well. We were two scores behind, we came back but it didn’t last until the end of the game.”
Great Britain Player of the Game Kirk credited the defensive unit for coming together and digging deep to secure the victory.
“We were trying to go out and play hard defensively,” expressed Kirk. “We just came into our own.”
“We got a couple of interceptions that really helped us and by the end we were really tough right down to the wire with bodies on the line. It was incredible.”
Not only was the win emotional for Great Britain but also today marked a special moment in the country’s football program.
“We’re just overwhelmed with it,” expressed Messenger. “In 2013, I went, just myself to Finland to observe the World Championship.”
“We didn’t even have a team at that time and it just inspired us to come and do this at that time. The dream was to take part in the World Championship one day. To have done it in four years is amazing. A lot of people bring a lot of huge work to make this happen. I’d really like to thank our National Federation for everything they have done to back us on this stage. It’s just been an incredible effort. We’re so pleased to be participating.”
With the win, Great Britain moves on to play host Canada on June 27 while Finland will face the US on day two.
This post is also available in: French