- Worcester still unbeaten after Bristol win
- Saracens win London derby in battling encounter with Wasps
Worcester and Richmond continue their battle at the top of the Premiership table with both sides recording victories again at the weekend.
After a three-week break from league action during the autumn international series, England’s star players were back playing for their clubs and the action was as furious as ever.
Worcester 21 Bristol 3
In an important clash for Worcester, who still top the table with a four point advantage over their nearest rivals Richmond, the Midlanders ran in 21-3 winners at home.
Bristol and England centre Amber Reed stroked over an early penalty for Bristol but that was where their points run ended. Sam Bree scored Worcester’s opening try before the home side ran in another two touchdowns.
England prop Kate Newton came closing to scoring for Bristol but had a try disallowed and England flankers Marlie Packer and Heather Fisher were in fine form, returning fresh from international duty.
Richmond 38 Lichfield 17
Lichfield couldn’t stop reigning league champions Richmond on Sunday as they were firing on all cylinders for this clash.
Just eight minutes in wing Holly Myers touched down, with England’s Alice Richardson converting. The momentum continued for the home side when a long pass from Richardson found Jackie Shiels. Wing Sophie Nicholas was in support and she beat her opposite number to score Richmond’s second.
As half time approached, Richmond continued to dominate with debutante Geraldine Rae rampaging over the line from ten metres out after picking up a short pass from Richardson. With the score converted the Londoners led 19-0.
Lichfield started the second half brightly and began to stretch the Richmond defence with some promising attacks. The visitors were helped by Richmond’s high penalty count, ultimately resulting in a lineout on their five metre line from which second-row Emily Braund forced her way over after a couple of quick rucks. Emily Scarratt converted.
The Lichfield score seemed to strengthen Richmond’s resolve though and they responded by scoring two quick-fire tries, a second each for Rae and Myers, both of which were converted.
Undeterred though Lichfield put pressure on the Richmond defence, which was ultimately rewarded with a try by Cerys Williams, taking the score to 31-12. Again, Richmond responded in a move that started with a scrum wide on the left and finished with Nicholas sprinting over in the right corner. Richardson converted.
The final score of the game was the product of some classy Lichfield back play finished by centre Vicki Johnson. It was undoubtedly the try of the game but the score was too little too late for the visitors.
Saracens 27 Wasps 22
In the London derby, Saracens came out on top against a battling Wasps side.
Wasps started well when their midfield combination of Tina Lee, Sarah McKenna and Michaela Staniford creating some width on the ball to free up Liz Riley for her first try of the afternoon.
Saracens, on the back-foot after Wasps’ spritely start, created some tempo with strong surges from Leah Carey and Poppy Cleall, both of whom were enjoying their finest games of the season. Winning a penalty, Hannah Gallagher slipped the ball to the ever-present Leanne Riley, who sprinted clear to score under the posts. Returning full back and captain Charlie Goode added the extras to take the lead.
Gallagher was at the heart of the action again when some good work by scrum half Rebecca Bushell helped get the ball out to the England flanker and she powered over the try line to make it 12-5 in Saracens’ favour.
Wasps responded though with Liz Riley finishing well to score her second from close range.
After the break Gallagher dummied her way through the Wasps defense and sent winger Ama Ofkar scorching up the touchline for a fine score before Leah Carey made it 22-5 to Saracens with another touchdown.
Both teams emptied their benches and all replacements made an immediate impact, none more so than Saracens flanker Lauren Newman with some punishing tackles.
Wasps also made some tactical changes with McKenna moving to fly half, an inspired switch that made an immediate impact. McKenna’s classy break catalysed momentum in favour of Wasps and Saracens’ scramble defence was not enough to hold out prop Geri Thomas.
Momentum changed once again as Saracens ran in one more try, guaranteeing the home side a bonus point, but once again Wasps responded through Jane Leonard. That score was not enough for Wasps, though, who ran out of time, with Saracens taking the spoils in the end.
The Premiership’s bottom-of-the-table clash between Thurrock and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.