- Bristol secure win over Worcester
- Richmond remain unbeaten
After a week’s break in the league calendar, the Women's Premiership returned at the weekend with some thrilling matches.
Defending Premiership champions Worcester suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of a dogged Bristol side on Sunday, losing 29-19 at the Portway.
Worcester were stifled by the penalty count and outclassed in the scrum in the first period, but against the run of play they still managed to take the lead in the early stages.
First a determined Samantha Bree outpaced three defenders to make Ceri Large’s conversion under the posts an easy task before England wing Kat Merchant touched down after 11 minutes, handing the title holders a comfortable lead.
Worcester then had a player sin-binned and Bristol capitalised with El Snowsill powering over the line. Skipper Amber Reed converted and then added a penalty, reducing Worcester’s lead to 14-10.
Bristol continued to deny the visitors possession and Worcester conceded a try on 36 minutes when uncharacteristic missed tackles allowed Sasha Acheson to score. Reed, in excellent form with the boot, took Bristol into a 17 -12 half-time lead.
After the restart, the penalties continued to flow and both teams received yellow cards. With Worcester again reduced to 14 players, Reed this time added a try, which she converted.
Worcester pulled one back through Sophie Watkins. Large converted, but with Kay Wilson touching down for a late converted try, Bristol took the significant win which puts them third in the table, one place ahead of Worcester.
A late surge from top of the table Richmond on Sunday left Lichfield still winless after four rounds this season after an upset had looked on the cards.
Richmond, who eventually took a 41-14 win at the Cooke Fields, started the game well and enjoyed the majority of the possession during the first twenty minutes.
The home side’s first opportunity of the match came from a line break after a well-worked turnover. A penalty was awarded and captain Emily Scarratt slotted it over.
Play continued in the same vein with Richmond attacking well and Lichfield having to defend a number of line breaks. Some astute kicking from Scarratt kept the visitors playing within their own half, but a mistake at the breakdown from Richmond after 35 minutes gave Lichfield another penalty, over 40 metres out. Scarratt confidently kicked it over to extend the lead to 6-0.
Moments later, Richmond lost centre Jackie Shiels to the sin bin and Lichfield capitalised with a superb drive from the forwards gaining ground before the hosts' back line made the most of being on the front foot, centre Vicki Jackson powering through to score the first try of the game. The conversion was missed, leaving the score at 11-0 to Lichfield.
With half-time approaching and Shiels still in the sin bin, Richmond rallied and put together a number of phases which put Lichfield back on their own line. Despite some strong tackling, the visitors managed to create and utilise an overlap which saw Jade Wong touch down in the corner. Abi Chamberlain converted to take the score to 11-7 at half time.
Immediately after the break Lichfield were awarded another penalty which Scarratt again kicked successfully to take the score to 14-7.
Once more the sides exchanged kicks for territory, which eventually led to a line break from Richmond. The move was finished off with a close-range try for prop Elisha Dee. This time the conversion was missed, taking the score to 14-12 with 30 minutes to play.
Lichfield then made a handful of substitutions and Richmond exploited the change in personnel with their fast-paced wide game. This proved too much for Lichfield’s defence and a hat-trick for centre Claire Allan soon followed, as well as two late tries for full-back Jo Watmore – handing Richmond a comfortable win in the end.
Premiership newcomers Aylesford Bulls remain without a win this season after suffering a 34-0 defeat to Wasps at Twyford Avenue.
Wasps started strongly and some impressive led to a try for No 8 Laura Quinn in the first ten minutes. Centre Hannah Edwards converted.
Wasps retained possession for much of the first half, and second row Lois Newcombe crashed over the line to put Wasps further ahead on 30 minutes. Edwards again added the extras.
Aylesford worked hard to come back into the game, but gave away a penalty within kicking range. Edwards stepped up and put three more points on the board handing Wasps a 17-0 at half-time.
Wasps’ Becca Rowe and Lynsey Douglas added further tries for Wasps after the restart before Rowe secured her second making the final score 34-0.
Saracens continued their run of good form and ran in six tries to beat a young, tenacious Darlington Mowden Parks Sharks outfit 30-16 on Sunday.
Saracens saw the better of the opening exchanges, with the front row trio of Hilary Leith, Geri Thomas and Kerrie-Anne Craddock prominent in their ball carrying. That opened up the space for Sarah McKenna on the 22-metre line and she danced around the Sharks full back to score a superb solo try.
The Saracens pack continued to pile on the pressure and this was rewarded when Leah Carey skilfully controlled the ball at the back of a powerful scrum to push her side over for the second score.
Sharks hit back with two penalties, converted by Katy McLean, making the score 10-6 at the break, before then taking the lead through Jenifer Edwards. Julia Hope took off on a dazzling run, only brought down by a great try-saving tackle from Saracens scrum half Leanne Riley. However, a neat offload to her supporting winger Edwards was enough to put her in to the clear to score out wide and take an 11-10 lead.
Saracens pulled together and increased the tempo with substitutes Lindsay Wheeler, Leigh Dargan and Kelly Wallis making big impacts. Their strong running and offloading made way for a trademark Maggie Alphonsi surge to score just wide of the posts, taking the home team back in to the lead.
Alphonsi’s try handed Saracens the momentum they needed resulting in further scores for Saracens courtesy of Sonia Green and Alphonsi, but once again the Sharks continued to battle hard and McLean this time brought home the rewards with a try making the score 25-16 in the closing stages.
Saracens, however, had the final word – Riley dotting down for the last try on the final whistle.