Match Report | Harlequins Women 8-22 Saracens Women
Written by Rhys Jones
Saracens Women avenged their early-season home defeat to Harlequins Women with a majestic 22-8 victory in front of the BBC cameras at The Stoop.
With plenty of fans in attendance and excitement around another clash between two Premier 15s heavyweights, it was the visitors who produced a brilliant second half to spoil the party.
What had started as a tense arm wrestle ended with Saracens’ ferocity shining through – Alev Kelter delivered another outstanding performance, taking on the kicking duties in Zoe Harrison’s absence.
The early momentum was with Quins, the hosts getting the better of things at scrum time and a strong maul proved too much as Amy Cokayne crashed over for the opening score.
Once Sarries had the ball, they showed what they can do with it. The response came via fly-half Holly Aitchison, who touched in the corner after some neat handling made the space for her. Kelter stepped up with the boot and slotted the conversion to give Sarries a slender lead.
Sarries were defending for large parts of the first 40 but the visitors stood firm, soaking up phase after phase of Quins ball. Lagi Tuima did slot a penalty before the break though as the hosts took a one-point lead into half-time.
Quins came out firing after the break, attacking the Sarries 22 with Shaunagh Brown and Rachael Burford carrying hard. Saracens were rather decisively winning the breakdown battle though with Marlie Packer as influential as ever.
Tuima then masterfully intercepted a pass and looked set to score only for Kelter to track back and incredibly pulled her down to stop the attack.
A second try looked to be on the cards for Harlequins as their rolling maul looked a real weapon but in the final 15 minutes it was Saracens’ ferocity that showed.
The kick chase effort from Lotte Clapp’s up-and-unders put immense pressure on the Harlequins back three. Kelter continued her mission of taking on the whole Quins side with her destructive carries and Alex Ellis and Packer provided powerful go-forward ball.
And the pressure paid off with a powerful rolling maul resulted in a try for the Women in Red, Packer emerging with the biggest smile from the pile of bodies, giving Sarries a four-point cushion with time running out.
Alex Austerberry’s side didn’t sit on their slender advantage though and kept pushing and Kelter extended the lead out to 15-8 with eight minutes left as Quins strayed offside.
The final nail in the coffin came from Vicky Fleetwood, who pushed through multiple Quins defenders and touched down to put considerable daylight between the two sides.
Kelter once again slotted the conversion to seal a fine victory for Saracens and extend their lead at the top of the Premier 15s table.
It’s back to StoneX Stadium for Saracens on Saturday, February 19 as they welcome Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC.