Nov 04, 2017
Bonus point win for Saracens Women
Saracens Women continued their unbeaten start to the season with a hard fought 29-12 victory over Bristol Ladies at Allianz Park in round seven of the Tyrrells Premier 15s.
First half tries from Bristol’s Lucy Attwood and Saracens Kat Evans plus a conversion for Amber Reed kept it tight however the home side broke away in the second period with tries through El Perry, Marlie Packer and Poppy Cleall extended Sarries undefeated run to seven games.
It was a bruising encounter at Allianz Park under the floodlights with very little to separate the two sides in the first forty minutes as both teams Saracens found themselves under pressure as Bristol looked to set an early high tempo and were forced to concede a penalty which saw No.8 Poppy Cleall see yellow and ten minutes in the bin. Quick thinking from scrumhalf Caitlin Mattinson put the visitors on the front foot and Lucy Attwood spotted the gap to score between the posts. Captain Amber Reed slotted an easy conversion for a seven point lead.
Saracens defence, which has been robust so far this season was tested to the limit as Bristol threw everything at the home side and could have crossed for a second soon after if it weren’t for some tenacious try line tackling and turnovers to keep them at bay with eighteen year old Cara Wardle and Rosie Galligan leading the charge. Valeria Fedrighi and Garnet Mackinder were both casualties from the tough encounter picking up knocks in the first half which forced them from the field and tested the strength and depth of the Sarries bench.
Strong carries from prop Hannah Botterman and Marlie Packer gave the home side valuable metres, sucking in the Bristol defence to give Zoe Harrison room to float the ball out to hooker Katherine Evans to score and narrow the gap with four minutes remaining. The fly half was unable to convert a tricky kick leaving last year’s Premiership runners up with a slender lead going into half time.
The Women in Black were clearly not ready to surrender their unbeaten league run that easily and immediately came out of the blocks after the break. The scrum began to fire on all cylinders, driving Bristol back and allowing Poppy Cleall to stretch her legs off the base. Packer and Cleall were in fine form against their former club and some deft handling from the pair saw prop El Perry cross to put the home side in front after 43 minutes.
With momentum now in their favour, Sarries began to spot the gaps in a previously watertight Bristol defence and Player of the Match Packer burst through with captain Lotte Clapp on hand in support to cross in the corner and extend the lead to ten points.
It didn’t take long for leading Premier 15s try scorer Packer to add to her tally following another strong surge from the Sarries pack at scrum time. Poppy Cleall looked to be in with a pick from the base but Bristol held out only for Packer to bully over for the bonus point off the next phase. Cleall got her rewards from the back of a later Sarries scrum for the fifth of the afternoon on the 72nd minute mark.
Bristol earned a consulate try with a few minutes remaining on the clock as the effervescent Claire Molloy carried hard towards the line and the ball was quickly recycled out wide for Lagilagi Tuima to score but it was too little too late as Sarries took the 29-12 win.
Speaking after the match head coach Rob Cain said: “Full credit to Bristol they really tested us today. They played aggressive quick rugby and fully deserved to go in at half time leading the game.
"We were so much better in the second half - the players responded extremely well to the challenge Bristol brought to us and we found another gear to our play. We respected the ball a lot more and our go forward allowed more space for our threats to attack space and both the number of our line breaks and positive offloads went up. Our bench also did a great job today to continue the tempo and physicality. We knew this was a test today and their response to it shows how much character we have as a group.”
15 Rowan White;14 Garnet Mackinder (Okemba 60’) ; 13 Cara Wardle; 12 Lauren Cattell (Vistisen 61’) ; 11 Lotte Clapp ©; 10 Zoe Harrison; 9 Anna Goddard (Brown 54’) ; 1 El Perry (Salisbury 60’) ; 2 Kat Evans; 3 Hannah Botterman (Martinez Gion 52’); 4 Valeria Fedrighi (B Cleall 25’); 5 Rosie Galligan; 6 Harriet Austin (Thomas 56’); 7 Marlie Packer (Cleall 40’) ; 8 Poppy Cleall
Replacements 16 Geri Thomas; 17 Loz Salisbury; 18 Sam Martinez Gion; 19 Bryony Cleall; 20 Nina Vistisen; 21 April Brown; 22 Seraphine Okemba
Scores Tries Evans (36’), Perry (43’), Clapp (49’), Packer (59’), P Cleall (72’)
Cons Harrison 2/5
Yellow card P Cleall (19’)
Images: Daniel Nechita