MATCH REPORT | Sale Sharks Women 26-41 Saracens Women
Saracens Women made it three wins from three in 2022 so far after a hard-fought 41-26 victory over Sale Sharks at the Corpacq Stadium.
Sarries had to work hard for it and found themselves behind early on, but eventually they ground down their opponents thanks to their resilient defence and clinical finishing.
It was Sale who came flying out of the blocks, and two tries in the opening 10 minutes gave the a commanding early lead.
Lauren Delany was first over the try-kine as she hit a flat pass at pace and then used her pace to race through to dot down. Lizzie Duffy’s first conversion of the afternoon put her side 7-0 ahead.
Barely two minutes later they were over again as the visitors were shellshocked. Vicky Irwin broke the line this time and in similar style to the first try chose to back herself which resulted in another try. The extras were added again, but this time it seemed to spark Saracens in to life.
A penalty was kicked to the corner which meant that the trusty rolling maul would enter proceedings, and as it so often does it ended with May Campbell rumbling over at the base which got her side on the scoreboard. Zoe Harrison, who was brilliant from the tee all afternoon cut the deficit to just seven points.
Ella Wyrwas then showed her pace with a break outside and just as she looked to pull away she was hauled in to touch, but the Women in Black were now back to their normal selves.
They were back level with 19 minutes on the clock, and once more it was the rolling maul which gave them the platform to score. It was brought down this time, but they went over from the next phase and Harrison’s conversion made it 14-14.
Lotte Clapp then completed the comeback on the half-hour mark, her perfectly timed run saw her beat her opposite number and coast over to dot down under the posts.
Sale refused to lie down and just as Saracens looked to be dominating they got level, a succession of penalties took them to within striking range and then they drove over to the delight of the home crowd. Duffy added the extras to make it 21-21 with just one minute of the first half left.
Sarries used that minute wisely though, and Campbell scored her second of the afternoon to make sure they were in front at the break. After Hannah Botterman was held up over the line they came back for an earlier penalty which was kicked to the corner, and then Campbell powered over. Harrison’s extras were the final play of the half, as they went down the tunnel with a 28-21 lead.
The visitors started the second half with plenty of ambition and they were rewarded with a fifth try 10 minutes after the restart to give themselves some breathing space.
It was once again a pick and go from close range, and the conversion meant the lead was 14 points with just less than half an hour to play.
Sale then sparked back in to life as Evie Tonkin squeezed over to get their bonus point try, but just as it did in the first half that seemed to galvanise the visitors.
Katie Barnes then thought she had crossed for her second Saracens try as she dived over in the corner, but the referee came back for a forward pass and the Australian was denied.
The Sale defence then struggled to keep up with the intensity and after giving away a penalty, Harrison kicked it straight through the posts to edge her side 12 points in front.
Sale then dominated the final 10 minutes as they took advantage of some ill-discipline from Austerberry’s side, but Sarries soaked it up and then got their reward as Harrison kicked another penalty to bring up the 40 point mark.
That proved to be the last notable action of a thrilling Allianz Premier 15s match, but a crucial win which sees Sarries keep their place at the top of the table.