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’)
FINDLAY AND STREET’S LADIES GO TOP OF THE PREMIER 15S TABLE WITH AN AWAY WIN AT SARACENS
Despite a tough opening ten minutes, Harlequins Ladies rallied away from home to win 32-29 at league rivals Saracens. With this win, the quartered shirts go top of the Tyrrells Premier 15s table, with Saracens having one match left to play, against Bristol next weekend.
This was a fixture of tremendous quality and forced both sides to bring out their very best rugby. It was the home side, however, that started the better, scoring two tries within the first ten minutes, both from lineout drives. With hooker Davinia Catlin sent to the bin for collapsing a maul, the visitors were up against it from the get go.
With an early 12-point buffer, Saracens looked certain to run away with it in the first half, however Quins remained focussed and resolute. After forcing a penalty inside the Saracens half, young fly half Ellie Green stepped up to kick for goal, which brought about her side’s first points of the contest.
After putting points on the scoreboard, Quins seemed to relax into their patterns of play, and in the 32nd minute, Holly Myers was able to get on the end of a wayward Saracens pass, and run under the posts for her team’s first try. With the simple conversion completed by Green, Quins were now within two points of their North London rivals.
The away side were on the up, and six minutes later, Myers ran in for her second after some sustained pressure from the backs. Despite the missed conversion, Findlay and Street’s Ladies were now in front, and then, just before the break, Davinia Catlin redeemed her early infringements by going over herself for her side’s third try. Green then added the extras to mean that the visitors went in at half-time 22-12 up.
After the interval, the points continued to come, as Green slotted another penalty to give her side an even bigger buffer. Then, at the 49-minute mark, blindside Shaunagh Brown trundled over to bring up 30 points to the south-west Londoners. With Green again converting, Quins had now amassed a seemingly insurmountable 20-point advantage, with half an hour left to go.
Saracens, however, had other ideas, particularly winger Emma Uren, who after making an initial break from inside her own half, continued to sprint down the touchline for a fantastic individual score. With the conversion successfully kicked, Sarries were back to within 15 points of the leaders.
The home team now looked firmly in the driving seat up front, and after a stream of deadly pick and go moves from the forwards, they ran in for another try, bringing the score to 24-32 with less than ten minutes to go. They followed this up with another try at the 77th minute, meaning that with three minutes to go, another try would surely seal a memorable victory.
Harlequins, however, were able to hold out in the dying stages, and bring home the win, an excellent victory away from home for Findlay and Street’s Ladies.
Harlequins Ladies return to The Stoop for their home semi-final of the Tyrrell’s Premier 15s on Saturday 14th April (kick-off, TBC). Tickets are on sale for this fixture, and can be purchased by clicking here.
|24/03/2018||5:00 pm||Premier 15s||2017-18|