- Richmond top of the table after comfortable Aylesford win
- Worcester edge Lichfield in Midlands derby
League leaders Richmond backed up their win over Worcester last week by condemning a spirited Aylesford Bulls side to a 62-0 defeat.
Premiership newcomers Bulls, on a sharp learning-curve since their promotion this season, welcomed a daunting plethora of England talent but were much improved from their recent defeats to Saracens and Worcester. In fact, their strong defence allowed them to take the game to the visitors at times.
Richmond’s experience proved pivotal though, and after 15 minutes wing Holly Myers broke through to score the first of her three tries that afternoon.
Further strong defence from the Bulls saw Richmond frustrated for long periods but in the end the home side’s concentration slipped and they tired allowing for scores though Joanne Watmore (2), Becky Essex (2), Claire Allan and Oli Davies.
Strong running and well-timed tackles from Deborah Harwood and debutante Ellie Ambridge, along with flanker Megan Snape and skipper Catherine Spencer, meant Richmond could never relax but in the end the Bulls had to settle for a 62-0 defeat.
Last season’s Premiership winners Worcester played host to Lichfield on Sunday, with their Midlands rivals welcoming the return of several star names.
Even so, the likes of England captain Sarah Hunter and her club and country teammates Emily Scarratt and Harriet Millar-Mills, couldn’t stop Worcester inflicting a crushing 32-8 defeat on them.
Lichfield started well and an early penalty saw Scarratt kick the visitors into the lead. More sustained pressure and some good teamwork from the Lichfield forwards then resulted in a try for England lock Emily Braund.
Worcester appeared to be suffering from a lack of confidence and despite Megan Goddard reducing the deficit with a well struck penalty after 30 minutes they found themselves entering the changing rooms at the break trailing 3-8.
The half-time chat paid dividends though, as a revitalised Worcester took the game to Lichfield from the kick-off and after two minutes Kat Merchant had levelled the score with a powerful run along the wing.
Persistent infringements saw Braund sent to the bin and Worcester took full advantage. Karen Jones, a half-time replacement, had a significant impact on the game and her contribution was rewarded with a try, forcing her way over the line following excellent work from a Rochelle Clarke tap penalty.
With Braund still out of the fray, the Worcester forwards, superbly lead by Clarke, were now providing an excellent platform for their speedy backline of Ceri Large, Merchant and Steph Johnson to cause havoc. Their new-found domination provided an opening for Large to set off on a strong try-scoring run. Goddard collected the extras.
With home side now in the ascendany, Merchant collected her brace after good interchanges of passes with Johnson and Worcester’s dynamic second half was rewarded with the bonus point try, when Johnson scored in the corner having outpaced the Lichfield defence.
Bristol, meanwhile, picked up their second win of the season on the road to Darlington Mowden Park Sharks on Sunday with a convincing 38-8 victory.
Bristol started strongly with a score in the first minute courtesy of prop Sasha Acheson. England fly-half Katy Mclean then clawed back three points for the Sharks, but Bristol were certainly making life difficult for the home side.
Bristol captain Amber Reed chipped over the Sharks’ defence for Claire Molloy to score, and fly-half El Snowshill cut a great line to score another not long after. With Reed converting both, the visitors marched into an early 3-19 lead.
Matters only got worse for the Sharks when Mclean was sin binned and Bristol’s wing Amy Wilson-Hardy took advantage making the score 3-26 at half-time with a good touch-down.
The second half started a much closer affair, with both teams battling hard. The Sharks were the first to break the deadlock with new England Elite Squad member Megan Ellery touching down after an impressive run through the Bristol defence.
Bristol kept the pressure on, and even with some great Sharks defence, Wales’ Philippa Tuttiet scored twice in the latter stages of the game to make the final score 8-38.
Saracens also beat Wasps 34-10 at Twyford Avenue this weekend. England flanker Marggie Alphonsi put Saracens on the scoreboard within ten minutes and, despite Wasps clawing back a penalty courtesy of Hannah Edwards, the north Londoners moved into a 12-3 lead with a touch down for centre Leanne Riley just before half-time.
Saracens’ momentum continued after restart with tries from Leah Morley, Stacie White and Leah Carey helping them into a comfortable 29-3 lead.
Wasps clawed a try back courtesy of wing Becca Rowe, but once again Saracens pulled ahead with Alphonsi having the final word.