Jan 13, 2017
Saracens Women storm to victory against Aylesford Bulls
Saracens Women got 2017 off to a flying start with a four try win over Aylesford Bulls at Surrey Sports Park on Saturday in round twelve of the Women’s Premiership. Tries from Bryony Cleall, Sonia Green, Garnet Mackinder and Nina Vistisen, plus 11 points from the boot of Zoe Harrison further cemented Sarries play off hopes as they head into the final few rounds.
After falling to Aylesford at Allianz Park earlier in the season, the match always promised to be a physical affair. Saracens showed their intent to turn things around early on as Bryony Cleall intercepted a loose pass to break through but the pass to Zoe Harrison didn’t stick. A minute later Saracens won back possession and Harrison put in a perfectly timed pass to Garnet Mackinder who glided past several Aylesford defenders but her pass was intentionally knocked down in the midfield, leading to the dismissal of Aylesford winger Jess Wooden to the bin. Harrison slotted the penalty to get Saracens on the scoreboard for an early lead.
The home side responded as they kicked deep allowing prop Chloe Edwards to bundle over from close range. Saracens regained the lead minutes later as Aylesford were penalised for coming off their feet at the breakdown, allowing Harrison to kick for another three points.
Bryony Cleall struck on the 25 minute mark after a patient build up from Sarries put the number 8 in position to crash over the whitewash. Cleall was in the centre of the action again shortly after as Sarries had a penalty advantage and her ambitious drop goal attempt just strayed wide.
Aylesford found themselves a player down again at 32 minutes when centre Kate Hancock was shown yellow for a high tackle. This seemed to spur the home side on however as they began to pressure the Saracens line with a couple of minutes left of the half. The visitors defence held fast and the pack earned a vital scrum penalty on their line to clear and end the first period with a 5-11 lead.
Centre Nina Vistisen came out firing in the second half as she broke the line and rumbled into the opposition 22, earning a penalty from the scrambling Aylesford defence which Harrison coolly slotted. A high tackle on flanker Becky Roby by her opposite number Shaunagh Brown registered a third yellow card for Aylesford and Sarries instantly capitalised on the advantage. A searing break from French flyer Seraphine Okemba put Sarries on the front foot and the second row partnership of Ellie Gattlin and Sonia Green carried the visitors over for their third try courtesy of skipper Green. In what was turning into a fast paced and frenetic game, Aylesford struck back immediately as Edwards went over for her second. The home side then narrowed the gap to just two points as Hancock spotted an opportunity to chip over the top for Wooden to collect and score under the posts.
The final twenty minutes were wide open as the third and fourth placed Premiership sides battled it out searching for the all important win. It was Garnet Mackinder doing what she does best, exploding down the wing, that edged Sarries ahead with fullback Emily Scott slotting the tricky conversion from the touchline. Saracens had the final say of the afternoon to score their fourth as an error in the Aylesford midfield proved costly when Scott hacked through for Vistisen to gather taking the final score to 19-35 and denying Aylesford the losing bonus point.
Speaking after the match, head coach Rob Cain said: “This was a hardworking, physical, determined performance from the first kick of the game to the last kick against another one of our play off rivals. Every time we got challenged today the girls found the answer and even when Aylesford put us under enormous pressure, the team just stood taller and upped their work rate for each other. This enabled us to weather a few storms and not allow the momentum to swing away from us at crucial times, to get the win and the four points on offer and help keep our play off ambitions ticking along.”
Final Score: Aylesford Bulls 19 Saracens Women 35
Tries: Cleall (25); Green (45); Mackinder (66); Vistisen (75)
Cons: Harrison 1/2; Scott 1/2
Pens: Harrison x 3
Replacements used: Peedle for Harrison (58); Blindell for Evans (67); Galligan for Cleall (67); Hamlyn Williams for Gattlin (75); Dowsett for Mackinder (77); Uren for Okemba (66);
Tries: Edwards (7,47); Wooden (57)
Cons: Wooden 1/3
Replacements: Myers for Turner (6); Goodwin for Szecowka Harte (40); Monteiro for Vik (44); Sillari for Breach (58); Voyle for Field (75); Dainton for Myers (78)
Yellow cards: Wooden (5); Hancock (32); Brown (44)