SOPHIE Barnett felt both relieved and amazed as Windsor Dames beat York 22-19 to reach the final of the National Junior Plate this season.
The Dames are defending their Plate crown and had to dig in for the win on Sunday. Chloe Baker, Barnett and player-of-the-match Nikita Finlay bagged the tries.
Barnett, the Windsor captain, told the Observer: “It was really nice because York is so far away we travelled the night before and had a bit of team bonding in the hotel. We were fresh and ready for the game, and not tired after making the long journey. We were all up for it.
“In the first half, we were really strong and playing in their half. We had a lot of opportunities to score tries and York didn’t have a lot of the ball.
“In the second half, they came back at us, but we defended really well. York worked really hard for the tries they scored and we had to defend on the try-line for quite a while.
“We probably could have scored a few more tries but we played really well. It was such a relief when the referee blew the final whistle after a few dodgy calls.
“By the end York were really pushing for it and we defended quite a lot. We had a lot of penalties given against us, which was a little bit frustrating, and by the end it was quite tight.
“But, obviously it’s amazing now that we’re through to the final.”
Windsor will play Harrogate in the final at Royal Wootton Bassett on Saturday, April 1, and Barnett is confident the Dames can lift the plate again.
“We had a strong squad on Sunday and will again for the final so should be able to give them a game, and I think we will get a positive result,” she said.
"Harrowgate are another northern team that we no nothing about but York have told us a bit. We don't really know what to expect but have been told really good things.
"We have no clue about them so will focus on ourselves and try to play our game."