MATCH REPORT | Gloucester-Hartpury 21-24 Saracens Women
Tense, passionate, and stressful are just few of the words you could use to sum up Saracens’ 24-21 unbelievable win over Gloucester-Hartpury.
After going unbeaten for the first five Premier 15s games of the season, Saracens looked set for their first loss of the season, at the Alpas Arena, but an incredible late game rush from the visitors denied Gloucester an incredible win.
Marlie Packer performed incredibly, leading the side with her voice and actions. She made the first try of the day due to her powerful running. Picking up from the base of the ruck, she saw nothing but open space in front of her, and an excellent supporting line from Wyrwas secured the try. Zoe Harrison marked her return with a successful conversion, giving the visitors control early.
Harrison’s kicking game was vital to driving Saracens around the pitch. Alongside that, a succession of scrums and lineouts made sure the pressure was kept on Gloucester as The Women in Red searched for their second score. Hannah Botterman came agonisingly close, but the prop was unluckily held by the Gloucester defence.
She wasn’t going to be denied a second time, however, and minutes later she successfully bulldozed her way over the line with a powerful drive, capping her 50th appearance for Saracens with a well-deserved try.
Attacking superiority might have put 14 points on the board for Sarries, but it was the brutal work of their defence that kept Gloucester-Hartpury scoreless for the first 40 minutes.
The tables had suddenly turned as soon as the second half started. Gloucester overcame their scoreless first half just two minutes into the second half. Rachel Lund went over for their first score of the day after some neat handling out wide. At 7-14 we had a game on our hands.
Sarries were unable to fully get a foothold in the game. Coreen Grant and the backline provided some promising attacking play, and the forward pack were vital in forcing penalties from Gloucester, but The Women in Red had nothing to show for their efforts.
As the sky darkened over the Alpas Arena, the tension began to escalate. The impetus sat with Gloucester, soaking up Sarries’ attacks and coming back with their own. The likes of Lund and Emma Sing began to cause more problems for the visitors. The home side scored their second try shortly before 60 minutes from a driving maul.
The game sat on a knife edge, with Gloucester firmly in control of the tie. Their third try came not long after their second. The home side were inches away from the try line, and a series of pick and goes saw Tatyana Heard crash over. The conversion from Sing was good and at 21-14 with ten minutes to go, Sarries were facing their first league loss of the season.
Even with the wind intensifying and the temperature dropping, The Women in Red never gave up, bombarding the Gloucester try line. On 77 minutes it looked like Gloucester had their victory in the bag when they turned the ball over and cleared their lines.
Minutes later, Marlie Packer scored in emphatic fashion, roaring over the line directly under the posts. A simple conversion from Harrison levelled the score to ensure a blockbuster finish to the match.
Sarries, not content with a draw, ran the ball back from the restart, sensing blood in the water. Their instincts proved correct. Thunderous carries from the forwards set up Saracens just shy of the opposition 22. As Harrison looked to settle herself for a drop goal, the referee raised his hand for a Saracens penalty. Zoe duly slotted the kick through the posts, confirming a dramatic win for Sarries.
After such a thrilling win tonight, there is little rest for Sarries, as a blockbuster tie with first placed Bristol Bears awaits Sarries at the StoneX Stadium next week.
Written by Rhys Jones.