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Women’s Premiership round 13: Richmond keep pressure on Saracens

13 January 2014

  • Saracens stay top after holding off Lichfield
  • Richmond keep the pressure on by thrashing London Wasps
Worcester's Kat Merchant

Photo: Rugby Matters

Saracens still top the Women’s Premiership table after 13 rounds but with a game in hand for rivals Richmond the race for the title is still very much on.

Saracens, who top the table by just four points, made it 11 league wins from 13 on Sunday after a hard fought 25-21 victory over Lichfield. The Londoners started at a quick pace and despite some brave defence, the home side were first to score with a try in the corner from Stacey White.

Lichfield hit back with a series of well-executed offloads by Sarah Hunter, Emily Braund and Justine Lucas, resulting in Becky Williams running in to score under the posts.

England wing Sally Tuson put Saracens back in charge when Lichfield were turned over in their own 22 couldn’t scramble back in time. Tuson then added a second for a 15-7 lead.

Once again Lichfield fought back. Scrum half Georgina Gulliver made a break through the Saracens defence and with offloads from Hunter, Harriet Millar-Mills and Braund, Lichfield came close through Stacey Maguire. In the end, however, it was England lock Braund who took the chance, leaping over the breakdown to score. Jackson once again converted, taking the score at half time to 15-14.

After the break both teams continued to threaten but Saracens had the majority of possession. Turned over again, Lichfield paid the price with White scoring to make it 20-14.

Following a long period of sustained pressure in the Saracens 22, Lichfield once again hit back. A penalty five metres out saw Lichfield opt for the scrum and scrum half Ali Taft made the break to go over and score. Jackson added the conversion to put Lichfield into the lead, making it 21-20.

With just one point in it, the last 20 minutes was a thrilling affair but in the end it was Saracens who took the spoils scoring in the latter stages of the game and securing an all-important bonus point.

Meanwhile, Richmond picked up an impressive 53-12 win against local rivals London Wasps at the weekend.

Wasps opened the scoring with a well-worked try from England wing Michaela Staniford, who had a clear run to score under the posts. Hannah Edwards converted.

However, Richmond hit back straight away, lock Rowena Burnfield evading tacklers with some nifty footwork to score. Richmond couldn’t make the conversion but it didn’t matter with Elisha Dee then finding a good line to score also.

Leading 10-7, Richmond then bagged try number three through Sara Anastasi. Abi Chamberlain converted before adding her own try moments later with a dazzling solo effort making the score 24-7 at the break.

The try bonus point for Richmond came soon after the restart, Molly Kinsella scoring the all-important fourth try.

The one way traffic continued though tries from England lock Becky Essex, Jo Watmore and Fran Matthews. Hannah Field then had the final word with a try against her former club, making the final score 12-53.

Last season’s Premiership champions Worcester had to settle for a 7-7 draw at Darlington Mowden Park on Sunday, leaving them fourth on the league ladder.

In tough, rain-soaked conditions, which actually saw the game abandoned after 61 minutes, the Sharks started powerfully with some penetrative combined forward and backs moves orchestrated by England fly half Katy Mclean.

It was the visitors who adapted to the conditions more readily though, and they forced the play into the Sharks’ 22 with some determined and powerful carries from Rochelle Clark and Lisa Campbell.

Worcester looked as if they would open the scoring ten minutes in when an excellent cross-kick saw Lydia Thompson chase, but her opposite wing covered.

Persistent pressure and probing kicks from Ceri Large eventually rewarded Worcester with the opening score. Sharks full back Sophie Lee elected to run a kick out of defence, was turned over by Sophie Watkiss, and Megan Goddard skilfully dribbled the ball over the line to dot down. Large added the conversion.

Sharks hit back though with Georgina Roberts collecting a loose ball and then scoring under the posts, with Mclean adding the extras.

For the remainder of the half, the game was fairly evenly balanced, although neither side really created scoring opportunities as they struggled in the conditions.

In the second half Steph Johnson came close to scoring for Worcester, only narrowly missing a touchdown following an excellent run, chip and chase.

Megan Goddard attempted a penalty kick from the 10 metre line, narrowly missing, while Mcean opted to run a penalty at the other end, but Worcester’s defence held strong, leaving the game at a draw when the match was abandoned.

In the final game of the Women’s Premiership at the weekend, Bristol picked up a well-earned 57-5 win against bottom of the table Aylesford Bulls.

Bristol, who led 40-0 at half-time, scored nine tries in a one-sided encounter, recording their eighth win of the season.

England Sevens player Amy Wilson-Hardy bagged an impressive hat-trick, while England centre Amber Reed added two tries and six conversions for a 22-point haul.

Siobhan Longdon-Hughes went over twice, while Katie Mason and Matilda Vaughan-Fowler also crossed the whitewash.