Dec 03, 2017
Saracens Women come out on top in Quins showdown
Saracens Women battled to a 19-28 win against Harlequins Ladies in the Tyrrells Premier 15s at The Stoop on Sunday evening. Going into the fixture both teams were unbeaten with Sarries one point adrift of league leaders, Harlequins but it was the visitors who maintained their 100% record notching up a bonus point win and taking them to the top of the table. A try from Poppy Cleall, a hat trick from Marlie Packer plus some fine kicking from Zoe Harrison proved to be the difference in a hotly contested battle in front of a lively crowd in South West London..
Quins came out of the blocks fast, striking after only three minutes as Holly Myers broke out of her own half to stride down the wing and score. Sarries struck back minutes later through a surging driving maul and flanker Marlie Packer bundled over to level the scores. A fine touchline conversion from Zoe Harrison edging Sarries ahead.
Whilst Sarries appeared to have the edge at the lineout through superb work from Sonia Green and Valeria Fedrighi, it was Quins who dominated at scrum time and their pack were rewarded for their efforts when the referee was left with no choice but to award a penalty try after a number of infringements on the line.
Hannah Botterman showed why she was deserving of her international call up over the autumn series as Quins struggled to contain the powerful eighteen year old. Winger Ama Mayes had the try line in sight as Botterman bust through and put her through the gap but a scrambling defence snubbed out the attack. The young prop almost found herself on the scoresheet minutes later after a bulldozing break left several defenders in her wake but was denied inches short.
With momentum now swung firmly in favour of the visitors they added two tries in quick succession before the break, the first courtesy of some quick thinking from a quick tap penalty as Georgie Gulliver moved the ball to Packer and Cleall was on hand to finish from close range. Packer added her to tally as Sarries used the driving maul to good effect and Harrison nailed both kicks to give Sarries a 21-12 lead at half time.
It took just three minutes into the second period for Sarries to score again as Packer rounded off her hat trick bundling over from close range to earn the bonus point. It looked like the game could have run away from Quins however a yellow card for Poppy Cleall gave them the opportunity to claw back a vital score and narrow the gap as Fiona Fletcher walked in from the back of a scrum.
The final quarter was a nervy affair as Quins threw everything at Sarries however they could find no way through an unrelenting wall of white shirts. Fearless tackling lead superbly by captain Lotte Clapp and centre Cara Wardle kept them at bay and Sarries were able to close out the game and come away with a 19-28 victory to take them to the top of the Premier 15s and maintain their unbeaten run this season.
Speaking after the match head coach Rob Cain said: “I think Quins threw everything at us including the kitchen sink in that last 25 minutes but our desire, work rate and line speed was exceptional and it was great to see all the players hard work rewarded and we all enjoy that one.
“I said pre match it would be great for the neutral and it didn’t disappoint. There were a few heart in the mouth moments that we created ourselves but the players problem solved and worked tirelessly for each other and managed to find a way to see out the last 10-15 minutes. That was the difference today - we were prepared to work harder for longer periods of time and stop them creating quick ball to put into space.
“This is a great step in the right direction for us, we will enjoy it, learn from it and then back to work for another big game this weekend. As pecial thank you to all the Sarries supporters that cheered the players on and brought so much noise! It gave us so much energy when we needed it.”
15 Nina Vistisen;14 Ama Mayes; 13 Cara Wardle; 12 Helena Rowland; 11 Lotte Clapp ©; 10 Zoe Harrison; 9 Georgie Gulliver (Brown 63’); 1 Loz Salisbury (Perry 53’) ; 2 Kat Evans; 3 Hannah Botterman (Martinez Gion 66’); 4 Valeria Fedrighi (Galligan 74’); 5 Sonia Green; 6 Bryony Cleall (Austin 60’); 7 Marlie Packer ; 8 Poppy Cleall
Replacements 16 Scarlett Cooper-Wall; 17 El Perry; 18 Sam Martinez Gion; 19 Rosie Galligan; 20 Harriet Austin; 21 Lauren Newman; 22 April Brown
Scores Tries Packer (5’, 40’, 43’); P Cleall (37);
Cons Harrison 4/4
Images: Daniel Nechita