- Richmond top table after Worcester Win
- First victories for Saracens, Bristol and Sharks
Richmond moved to the top of the Premiership table on Sunday night after a significant 26-12 win over reigning champions Worcester.
In rain-soaked conditions, Richmond made a dominant start with Annabel Sergeant scoring after just a few minutes thanks to a good off-load from Alice Richardson.
However, despite dominating possession, Richmond found it hard to build on their slender lead. In fact, they gave away penalties in quick succession which allowed Worcester to gain the upper hand. Worcester wing Kat Merchant, who looked dangerous with every touch, then made a charging run down the right wing, handing off two players to score in the corner and bring the scores level at 5-5 heading into half-time.
A prolonged period of Richmond territory and possession opened the second half, but they still couldn’t convert that into points for some time. Eventually, some scrappy play saw Laura Jenkins crashed over the try line. Abi Chamberlain converted this time to hand the hosts a 12-5 lead.
With Worcester then losing England prop Rochelle Clark to the sin-bin, Richmond continued to pile on the pressure and their third try came when the ball was fed out to the backs following a maul. Richardson exploited the gap that opened up in front of her and touched down under the posts. Jackie Shiels converted.
Richmond’s momentum continued when Shiels put in a thunderous tackle five metres out from the try-line, forcing the ball loose. Richardson picked up and off-loaded to Joanne Watmore, who scored under the posts.
Worcester wouldn’t give up and their tenacity paid off when Stephanie Johnson got on the end of some good ball to touch down in the corner. Megan Goddard converted to make the final score 26-12.
Elsewhere, an understrength Lichfield suffered a surprise 21-8 home defeat to Darlington Mowden Park Sharks.
Lichfield started the game well, creating opportunities on numerous occasions, but handling errors prevented them from crossing the line. After a while, their pressure was converted into points when England scrum half Natasha Hunt added a tenth minute penalty.
However, the Sharks dominated possession in the subsequent period of play and eventually broke Lichfield’s defence with a well-executed backs move off a scrum. Jennifer Edwards went over in the corner but England fly half Katy Mclean couldn’t convert.
Lichfield responded almost instantly from the restart with a terrific break from Hunt. The ball was recycled and prop Justine Lucas touched down to take the score to 8-5 at half-time.
In the second half, Lichfield struggled to keep their error count down and the Sharks enjoyed the majority of the possession. Their hard work paid off with a penalty, which Mclean slotted home with ease to bring the sides level at 8-8 with 55 minutes played.
Mclean again proved to be crucial for the Sharks, converting two further penalties to put six points between the two sides. Then, in the final play of the game, a Sharks clearance saw Julie Hope recover the ball. She couldn’t finish off the move herself, but Edwards was on hand to complete a double. Mclean converted, making the final score 8-21.
Saracens proved too strong for newly promoted Aylesford Bulls, condemning the league newcomers to a 96-0 defeat at Bramley Road.
The scene was set early on when the lively Ama Ofkar crossed in the opening three minutes to finish some fine handling in the backs.
Despite the hard work of the ever present Catherine Spencer – the former England captain a constant nuisance throughout for Saracens – the sheer physicality and experience overwhelmed the Bulls, making the score 55-0 at the break.
Aylesford re-regrouped at that point and showed better control in the lineout and scrums in the second period. However, the running of Poppy Cleall and Lindsay Wheeler caused havoc, consistently feeding prolific finisher Sarah McKenna.
Meanwhile, Bristol picked up their first win of the season at home to Wasps. In tough conditions, Bristol ran out 19-7 winners with tries coming from Rachel De Filippo, Amy Wilson-Hardy and Sian Moore. England centre Amber Reed added two conversions.