Mar 24, 2018
Saracens Women take league challenge down to final weekend
Saracens Women fell agonisingly short in the penultimate round of the Tyrrells Premier 15s on Saturday, losing 32-29 to Harlequins Ladies. The home side went into the break trailing 22-12 and looked to be down and out after Quins added to their tally to pull away with a twenty point lead with twenty minutes remaining but a Sarries fight back brought them to within touching distance but it wasn’t quite enough to pull off the win.
Sarries couldn’t have asked for a better start as they found themselves awarded a penalty try after a surging driving maul was brought down illegally and the ref signalled under the posts after just two minutes on the clock. The pack were also behind try number two as Sarries marched from the catch and drive for Bryony Cleall to crash over giving Sarries a twelve point lead after seven minutes.
Whilst the first quarter may have been all Sarries, Quins grew into the game and dominated large periods of the second quarter putting themselves on the board through a Jess Wooden penalty. The pressure from the visitors paid dividends as Holly Myers intercepted a pass to walk in under the posts to reduce the gap to two points. Sarries wolfpack defence was tested to its limits approaching half time as wave after wave of quartered shirts battered the line. Finding no way through upfront in the tight, Quins switched tactic shipping the ball out wide for Myers’ second.
Sarries problems were compounded when no.8 Poppy Cleall was sent to the bin on the forty minute mark for playing the scrum half. Quins took immediate advantage of the extra player, kicking to the corner and driving over through Davinia Catlin to take the half time score to 22-12 to the visitors.
It wasn’t the best of starts for the Women in Black as they found themselves penalised from the restart allowing Quins to slot an easy three pointer through Ellie Green to extend their lead to 25-12. Shaunagh Brown was energetic throughout and got herself on the scoresheet as she bullied her way over from five metres out as momentum had swung firmly in favour of the South London team to take Quins twenty points out in front.
Sarries attacked the final quarter as they had the first and began to string some encouraging phases together to get back in to the mix. Emma Uren producing a moment of individual brilliance to see off several Quins defenders over eighty metres to launch the comeback. Sarries then bombarded the line with the Quins defence only able to hold out for so long before it was breached by Poppy Cleall. Sensing they were still in the fight, Sarries continued to battle and hooker May Campbell darted over with just two minutes remaining to take the score to 29-32. It was a nervy finale as Sarries continued to press but the clock ran out and Sarries had to settle for two points from an epic affair at Allianz Park. Saracens Women will now travel to Bristol Ladies on Good Friday hunting a win which will secure them top spot going into the play offs.
Speaking after the match, Rob Cain said: “This definitely shows how exciting the play offs will be and credit to both teams for producing such an exciting high tempo, high scoring game for the neutral. We knew how dangerous Quins are with successive collison wins and it was disappointing to allow them to change the momentum of the middle part of the game through this after such a positive start from us. Being twenty points down the game could have easily got away from us but that final quarter the players really grabbed the momentum back, winning collisions, offloads and scored some exciting tries to bring us back within three points. We definitely learnt we can’t afford to leave it this late over the next few weeks but I firmly believe this will give us new energy hg lighting the rugby that allows us to be so dangerous going into the play offs starting with Bristol away and the opportunity to finish top of the league.”
15 Lauren Cattell (Vistisen 59’); 14 Emma Uren; 13 Cara Wardle; 12 Helena Rowland; 11 Lotte Clapp ©; 10 Zoe Harrison; 9 Georgie Gulliver; 1 El Perry; 2 May Campbell; 3 Hannah Botterman (Martinez Gion 57’); 4 Sonia Green; 5 Tess Wijmans; 6 Bryony Cleall; 7 Kat Evans (Packer 44’); 8 Poppy Cleall
Replacements 16 Sarah Barber; 17 Sam Martinez Gion; 18 Kay Searcy; 19 Marlie Packer; 20 Emma Swords; 21 Nina Vistisen; 22 Garnet Mackinder
Scores: Penalty try (2’); B Cleall (7); Uren (62’); P Cleall (68’); Campbell (78’)