Dec 16, 2017
Saracens Women end 2017 unbeaten
Saracens Women rounded off 2017 in style with a dominant 7-34 win away to Loughborough Lightning in round eleven of the Tyrrells Premier 15s to maintain their 100% unbeaten record this season. Tries from Hannah Botterman, Cara Wardle, Lotte Clapp, Poppy Cleall and a brace for Marlie Packer was the difference on a chilly afternoon in the Midlands.
Sarries started brightly and never took their foot off the pedal with a dangerous blend of physicality up front and an energetic backline. Hannah Botterman got the visitors first points on the board after seven minutes when Poppy Cleall spotted an opportunity to pounce at the breakdown, turning over the ball which was quickly recycled for the prop to muscle over.
The centre partnership of Helena Rowland and Cara Wardle continues to blossom with the eighteen year olds leading the charge in both attack and defence. Wardle was rewarded with a score for her efforts when Zoe Harrison spotted the space in behind and threaded through for the centre to capitalise on a Lightning error metres out.
Italian international Valeria Fedrighi was lively in the loose and looked to be in for Sarries third try but the offload from Packer drifted inches forward to let Lightning off the hook. Their defence could only hold out so long as the visitors brought on wave after wave of sustained pressure and when Harrison kicked a penalty Sarries set up a surging drive pushing the home side back twenty metres for Packer to score.
Lotte Clapp was on hand to get the bonus point on the chime of half time in a well worked team try to give the visitors a twenty point lead at the break. Second rows Sonia Green and Fedrighi got positive touches along with Packer and the Cleall’s in the back row to put Sarries on the front foot and the ball moved along the hands for the captain to go over.
Newcomer Georgie Lingham went close to scoring as she showed a wicked turn of pace down the right wing but a dogged Loughborough defence scrambled back to keep her out ten minutes into the second period. Dominating possession and territory, Sarries inched closer to the line through strong carries from Bryony Cleall and Hannah Botterman but were denied on the line. Sarries flexed their muscle up front to win the resulting scrum against the head and Poppy Cleall made no mistake from close range. Helena Rowland adding the extras to take score to 0-27.
Lightning kept battling and with ten minutes remaining crossed for their first try through Natasha Jones as she slipped under the posts following a period of pressure fronted by Sarah Hunter and Ofure Ugiagbe in the Sarries danger zone. The fly half converting her own score to reduce the deficit to 7-27. But it was the visiting side that rounded off the afternoon’s proceedings as Packer broke the line to cross for her second and leave Sarries with a 7-34 win, keeping them the top of the league and unbeaten at the end of eleven rounds.
Speaking after the match head coach Rob Cain said: “What a great way to finish 2017. I am so happy for the players and backroom staff. So much effort goes into what we do, on and off the pitch and it’s a great reward being top of the table, with so many impressive individual and team performances for the first part of the season. Today we were aggressive, clinical and relentless with our work rate which allowed us to really pressurise a talented Loughborough team and suffocate their ability to play their game. There is lots more to come and after a well deserved Christmas break I am excited to see how much further we can go as a team. There have been some great memories so far and we can’t wait to create more in 2018.”
15 Nina Vistisen;14 Georgie Lingham (Mayes 64’) ; 13 Cara Wardle; 12 Helena Rowland; 11 Lotte Clapp ©; 10 Zoe Harrison (Brown 64’); 9 Georgie Gulliver; 1 El Perry (Fredrickson 69) ; 2 Kat Evans (Cooper-Wall 69’); 3 Hannah Botterman (Martinez Gion 60); 4 Valeria Fedrighi (R Galligan 60); 5 Sonia Green; 6 Bryony Cleall (Newman 60); 7 Marlie Packer; 8 Poppy Cleall
Replacements 16 Scarlett Cooper-Wall; 17 Charlotte Fredrickson; 18 Sam Martinez Gion; 19 Rosie Galligan; 20 Lauren Newman; 21 April Brown; 22 Ama Mayes
Scores Tries Botterman (7), Wardle (14’), Packer (26’ 76’), Clapp (40), P Cleall (63’)
Cons Rowland 2/6