MATCH REPORT | Gloucester-Hartpury 29-15 Saracens Women
Saracens Women lost a hard-fought contest with Gloucester-Hartpury 29-15 in the Allianz Cup.
Millie Wood opened the scoring for the hosts at the ALPAS Arena and a subsequent brace for Ellie Underwood helped secure the win. Saracens put in a valiant display, as Sophie Tansley and Tilly Vaughan-Fowler both found themselves on the scoresheet.
Sarries opened proceedings and, after a short exchange of kicks, forced a knock-on in the Gloucester half.
The visitors were made to pay for their own handling errors with just six minutes played, after a dropped pass in the midfield gifted Gloucester’s Wood the ball. The winger ran in the intercept from her own half, giving the hosts a 5-0 lead, as the conversion was pulled wide of the post.
Soon after, Anna Goddard looked to threaten with a kick over the Gloucester defensive line but the nudge landed just beyond the onrushing Coreen Grant.
The cherry and whites then doubled their lead in the 13th minute when Underwood caught a loose pass out wide and found space down the right flank. After breaking a tackle, the winger offloaded to Kristine Sommer who bundled over the line.
Sarries reacted quickly, edging into the Gloucester 22 with sustained carries from the forward pack. That pressure bore results when a quick tap penalty, just metres from the Gloucester line, was ferried to Tansley who scored from close range under the posts.
Anna Goddard missed the conversion, making the score 10-5 in favour of the hosts.
Sarries spent the next ten minutes pinned back in their own half, but rode the pressure, benefitting from a few turnovers and two missed kicks for touch by Lleucu George.
Gloucester did come close to scoring though, shifting the ball wide with nimble handling, but a loose pass from hooker Ellie Gilbert stifled the attack.
With five minutes left in the half, Sarries regained momentum; a cute offload sending Tansley striding into space. The ball was then shipped wide to Vaughan-Fowler, who stormed down the right. Her offload only narrowly missed May Campbell and from that point on, barring a Gloucester line break, neither team came close to scoring before the halftime whistle.
Sarries returned for the second half with a point to prove. Lottie Clapp posed an instant threat, breaking the Gloucester line before offloading to Grant. A turnover came a phase later but the resulting clearance kick was caught by Ella Wyrwas who drifted right. After drawing the defender, she shifted the ball wide to Vaughan-Fowler who dotted down in the corner.
With the scores level, Sarries’ control over possession began to loosen. Gloucester took their chance as Underwood caught a clearance kick and pressed forward. The ball was then shifted to the flank and, following a few offloads, Millie Wood crossed to line to give Gloucester back the lead.
George converted to give the hosts a 17-10 advantage. Once again Sarries reacted well, constructing a strong maul deep in the Gloucester 22. A penalty came and Wyrwas took it quickly. Big forward carries helped nudge Sarries over the line but Goddard missed the conversion.
Minutes later Gloucester benefitted from a mishit kick by Sarries and recovered the ball before getting held up over the line. Confusion then ensued as Gloucester scored off a lineout while Sarries were conducting a substitution.
The tries didn’t stop there for the hosts. With nine minutes remaining, Underwood received the ball on the right, broke two tackles and scored in the corner. George converted to make the score 29-15 and, even though Sarries fought to the death, the score remained unchanged come the final whistle.
Written by Stefan Frost.