Mar 21, 2016
Saracens Women secure Cup semi final slot
Saracens Women moved another step closer to retaining their National Cup title with a victory against a determined Lichfield side on Sunday.
Scores from Dowsett, Sim, Roby and skipper Sonia Green helped Saracens to a 24-14 win putting them top of the pool and securing a home semi final berth. It’s been a clean sweep for Rob Cain’s side who have not dropped a game in the pool stages and amassed an impressive 30 tries in 4 matches.
The first quarter was a cagey affair as both teams looked to settle into the game. Despite perfect conditions at Cooke Fields, several knock ons and loose passes stunted any real flow. Saracens were forced to make changes early on as young flanker, Harriet Austin, who has been in blistering form this campaign, left the field with injury. Brooke Sim proved a constant threat in midfield and triggered the opening score by bulldozing through the Lichfield defence. Full back Charlotte Barras was on hand for the offload feeding Laura Dowsett with her trademark subtle hands for the winger to turn on her pace burning down the wing to score.
With the deadlock broken Saracens began to grown in confidence and despite changes to the front row with last weekend’s starters, May Campbell and El Perry away on England U20’s duty, dominated set piece. Lock Ellie Gattlin was superb in the air, putting in a carbon copy performance of her Saracens counterpart George Kruis, in providing a solid attacking platform but also stealing opposition ball. The Saracens pack were rewarded with a penalty at scrum time and quick thinking from scrum half Georgie Gulliver put Sim through the gap to score.
With momentum swinging in the defending champions favour, Saracens scored direct from the kick off in a beautifully worked team try. Searing breaks from front row Geri Thomas and Becky Roby put Saracens on the front foot and captain Sonia Green was close in support to finish the move. The away side looking comfortable with a 19-0 lead heading into the break.
The game was far from over however as changes to the Lichfield pack at half time helped them launch a comeback. Gaining parity at scrum time gave the home side an attacking platform which they had been starved of in the first half. The Saracens otherwise solid defensive line was breached as a couple of missed tackles allowed Lichfield in to score under the posts. Sensing that they needed to shut the game down, Saracens responded through hooker Becky Roby who sprinted in support for a well deserved score. Lichfield were determined to fight until the final whistle and mounted the pressure inside the Saracens’ 22.
Marcella Collins was penalised at the breakdown and shown yellow, followed closely by replacement fullback Nina Vistisen on her return from injury, meaning Saracens had to see out the final 8 minutes with 13 players. Lichfield made the most of the extra two players, sneaking a try in the final passage of play as the ball was recycled wide against a stretched defence.
Head coach Rob Cain commented after the match – “Our aim going into the National Cup was always to top the pool and get a home semi final. Credit to everyone for making this happen over the past few weeks. We keep on ending up on the right side of the results even when at times we aren't playing as well as we would like. Individually, players are making huge statements but as a team we are still striving for more. Yesterday Becky Roby and Brooke Sim were outstanding, both with ball in hand and with their tackle count. Sonia Green put in another captain’s performance and our bench made a real impact which is always pleasing to see and gives us headaches for selections which is all we ask. The next few weeks leading into the semi final will be about making sure we hit the ground running straight from the first whistle.”
Saracens Women will be in semi final action on Sunday 3rd April at Allianz Park.
Final score: Lichfield Ladies 14 Saracens Women 24
Tries: Dowsett, Sim, Green, Roby Conversions: Brown x 2
Saracens Women: 15 Charlotte Barras; 14; Laura Dowsett; 13 Caz Roberts; 12 Brooke Sim; 11 Ama Mayes; 10 April Brown; 9 Georgie Gulliver; 1.Geri Thomas; 2 Becky Roby; 3 Jeanni Vinueza Yoyola; 4 Ellie Gattlin; 5 Marcella Collins; 6 Erica Mills; 7 Harriet Austin; 8 Sonia Green (c).
Replacements: 16 Mica Evans; 17 Becky Parry; 18 Loz Morton; 19; Rebecca Bushell; 20; Eloise Bloomfield; 21 Georgia Peedle; 22 Nina Vistisen