Nov 30, 2015
Women victorious in top of table clash
Saracens Women came out on top in this weekend’s clash away to league leaders Richmond. The reigning Premiership champions put an end to Richmond’s unbeaten season with a dominant second half performance which now sees them close the gap at the top to just two points.
As expected the opening quarter was a cagey affair as both teams kept each other at bay with strong carries countered by tight defence. Richmond possibly would have felt they had the slight edge as their scrum caused the visitors some issues in the early exchanges coupled with the departure of influential Saracens scrum half George Gulliver as she was shown yellow after 28 minutes.
Richmond were unable to capitalise on the numerical advantage and it was Saracens who began to ramp up the pressure despite being a player short. Fly half April Brown started to pull the strings using the strong winds to good effect to give the visitors strong field position playing deep into Richmond territory.
Saracens patiently played the phases and were rewarded when fullback Nina Vistisen (pictured) popped up amongst the pack to dive over in the corner. Saracens struck again before half time as centre Brooke Sim got the charge down, demonstrating some smart footballing skills to neatly gather and score giving them a 10 point lead going into the break.
The visitors continued to build momentum after half time forcing Richmond to defend for prolonged periods. The backline hit top gear as mature and composed performances from Brown, Cattell and Vistisen constantly asked questions of the Richmond defence.
The Saracens backrow of Gallagher, Cleall and Green were outstanding around the park, winning multiple turnovers and putting in some crunching tackles. Gallagher thought she’d got her herself on the scoresheet after a series of tight picks however was deemed to have knocked it on over the line. Saracens began to stamp their authority across all elements of the game as they tightened up the scrum to provide a solid platform to unleash the backs.
It didn’t take them long to cross again though as the ball was worked well down the line and player of the match Vistisen showed her finishing class for her second of the day.
Richmond had limited ventures into the Saracens 22 but took full advantage when a well worked kick forced the visitors back on their line. Some confusion followed as the referee signalled for a Saracens penalty which was quickly tapped by Richmond to score. Clearly aggrieved by the decision, Saracens responded immediately as Cleall put in one of her trademark breaks, brushing off several Richmond players to link with skipper Green who gave the away side their fourth of the afternoon.
Head coach Rob Cain speaking after the game said - “Today was a very disciplined, hardworking performance with great execution against an unbeaten, physical Richmond team.
We had a great balance between our kicking and running game and scored some exciting and expansive tries. Each week our performance levels keep improving and we are becoming more clinical and ruthless as a team with different players leading the charge each week.
We left a few tries out there but I couldn’t be happier with the players. They controlled the game throughout and really showed their teeth today. All the hard work over the past few months is beginning to really show and they deserve a well deserved break before we enter back into the league against a very tough Bristol team at home a week on Sunday.”
Saracens Women return to Allianz Park for their final two league games of the season on 13th December vs Bristol and Aylesford on 20th December.
Tries: Riley (65)
Tries: Vistisen (28,60) Sim (39) Green (68)
Saracens Women: 15 Nina Vistisen; 14 Deborah Fleming; 13 Lauren Cattell; 12 Brooke Sim; 11 Lotte Clapp; 10 April Brown; 9 Georgia Gulliver; 1.Karlee Walters; 2 May Campbell; 3 Geri Thomas 4 Marcella Collins; 5 Lauren Newman; 6 Poppy Cleall; 7 Hannah Gallagher; 8 Sonia Green (c)
Replacements: 16 Jeanni Vinueza Yoyola; 17 Fi Sim; 18 Becky Roby; 19 Laura Dowsett; 20 Ama Mayes