Match Report: Exeter Chiefs Women 22-14 Saracens Women
Saracens Women’s seven-match winning run came to an end as Exeter Chiefs Women recorded a 22-14 win at Sandy Park in the Allianz Premier 15s.
Poppy Leitch and Kate Zachary, alongside Lauren Cattell’s boot, sent the West Country outfit into a healthy lead before Lotte Clapp replied with a stunner.
USA international Rachel Johnson flopped over late on to inflict a first defeat of the season on the Londoners despite a late Cara Wardle effort.
Exeter took the game to Saracens from the off and their game plan mirror what we have come to known from the Chiefs Men over the years – physical and direct.
Sarries matched the hosts in that department early on, forcing several handling errors, however couldn’t get their attacking game flowing in the early stages on a blustery afternoon.
Fly-half Holly Aitchison kicked well, exploiting space in the backfield, but the Exeter covering defence reacted well and immediately got them back on the front foot.
A series of penalties at the breakdown and for offside cost Saracens a large amount of metres and Chiefs capitalised on 11 minutes with Leitch sliding over from close range.
They extended their advantage via Cattell’s boot shortly ahead of the scheduled first-half water break – the interval Sarries needed to regroup.
Alex Austerberry’s side then grew into the half. The Women in Black spent a prolonged period hammering the Exeter door, but weren’t allowed an inch over the doormat as the home team entered half-time 8-0 ahead.
Exeter’s strength in defence turned into early second half points. Flanker Zachary raced up to charge down a clearance kick and pounced on the ball in the large in-goal area with Cattell successfully nudging the conversion.
The middle section of the pitch took a battering thereafter with several struggling under foot. That was until Clapp’s superb cutting line brought Sarries back into the game. Bursting on to a pop from Aitchison, the skipper punched through a hole and rounded the full-back for a sensational converted score.
Saracens huffed and puffed but continued to find a stern Exeter XV in their path. Their frustration was further confirmed as Johnson went over late on to secure a Devonshire victory ahead of Wardle dotting down.