Source: Riki Teml

Premiership rugby round up

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With one round of matches left, Saracens remain top of the table, one point ahead of Richmond and for the 3rd year in a row we go into the last game not knowing who will be the champions. Can Saracens hold their nerve and beat Wasps to win the title?  This is what happened yesterday:

Richmond 20 – 15 Saracens

Always hotly contested and never slow, Richmond versus Saracens games are a treat for rugby supporters and yesterday was no different.  Richmond started the game well with a steely determination showing in their play and they were rewarded with a try from Natasha Brennan in the corner. The conversion was missed. 5-0.

Scrum 2 by Kate Clements

Source: Kate Clements

Both teams upped the tempo in the second half however an outstanding solo effort from Alex Matthews (playing at centre due to injuries) gave Richmond a second try against the run of play. The conversion was unfortunately missed in windy conditions. 10-0.

Saracens refused to let this phase them and Zira Handley calmly kicked a penalty to get their first points on the board before Poppy Cleall scored their first try. Handley converted to tie the scores at 10-10.

Richmond took the chance to go into the lead with a penalty from Abi Chamberlain however Saracens came straight back with a try out wide from Lotte Clapp to make it 13-15 with less than 10 minutes remaining.

The Richmond scrum and lineout were starting to dominate and Saracens gave away one too many penalties resulting in a yellow card for their prop. This however led to uncontested scrums due to injuries to the front row. Richmond instead used the opportunity to kick for touch and drive for the line. They recycled the ball and Matthews looked sure to get her second when there was an infringement and the referee signalled a penalty try. Richmond converted to give them the lead and held on for the remaining few minutes to take the win. 20-15.

Aylesford Bulls 5 – 106 Bristol Ladies 1st

Bristol Ladies stormed to a huge 106 – 5 win over Aylesford Bulls yesterday, with their biggest victory of the season by far. The victory takes them to third in the Premiership table, with the final game of the season next Sunday (18th Jan).

16 tries from 8 different players, combined with 13 conversions from the boot of Amber Reed gave Bristol a score line to be proud of.  Sydney Gregson, who scored four during the game, got her first within 30 seconds of kick off, with May Campbell and Tilly Vaughan Fowler adding two more within 10 minutes.

The first half progressed steadily, with Aylesford fighting hard to curb the Bristol attack. Gregson got her second on 14 minutes, followed by scores from Lucy Demaine, Amy Wilson Hardy and Devon Holt. Aylesford found a way through just before half time and got a try of their own, only for Nolli Waterman to come straight back and cross the try line twice in quick succession.

Gregson scored her third and fourth before being replaced by Rosie Kells on 48 minutes, leaving Amy Wilson Hardy to add three more of her own, Vaughan Fowler to get her second, with Captain Amber Reed closing the game with a fine try and conversion.

Sophie Hemming was named Forward of the match while team mate Sydney Gregson was named Back of the match.

Kick off on Sunday 18th January is a 5pm, with free entry to the women’s game. Beforehand Bristol Rugby face Yorkshire Carnegie at 3pm, with tickets available from the Bristol Rugby website.

Lichfield Ladies 21 Wasps Ladies 10

Playing against the wind in the first half, Lichfield were immediately put under pressure by Wasps and remained in their own half until Wasps were able to open the scoring on 13 minutes, through their right wing Rebecca Rowe who beat the covering defence to score in the corner.

As the first half progressed, Lichfield improved and went close on a couple of occasions. With their World Cup star Marlie Packer then yellow carded for stamping after 30 minutes, Wasps found themselves on the defensive and managed to hold onto their lead to reach half time 5-0 ahead.

In the second half, playing with the wind, Lichfield took control of the game led by their outstanding fly half and captain Tash Jones by playing quick passing running rugby. Their first try came after 54 minutes when following an excellent break by Millie Wood (starting for the first time), Lichfield got the ball to right wing Jasmine Coyne, who outpaced the defence to touch down. Sarah Nicholas added the conversion to give Lichfield the lead 7-5.

Lichfield scored their second try when after 60 minutes, following an outstanding handling move across the back line, full back Sarah Nicholas quick pass to Jasmine Coyne put her in for her second try, also converted by Nicholas to increase their lead to 14-5.

Despite conceding another try to Wasps, through Rebecca Rowe, Lichfield kept up the momentum and were rewarded with their third and final try through the excellent  Amy Cokayne who beat several tackles to score on 70 minutes, with Sarah Nicholas adding the extras to give Lichfield a 21-10 victory.

Worcester Ladies 14  DMP Sharks 32

Worcester were soundly beaten by an impressive Sharks team and the crowd braving the blustery conditions were treated to a master class in fly half play by Sharks’ and England Captain, Katy McLean.

From the kick off Sharks attacked with passion, denying Worcester possession for long periods in the game and even when the home side had the ball, a series of handling errors passed the advantage back to the visitors.

McLean made excellent use of the wind in the first half, kicking intelligently to the corners and exposing Worcester’s weakness in the line out. The home side gained no respite in the second half as the wind cruelly for them, changed direction to keep the advantage with Sharks.

McLean opened the scoring with a penalty after 8 minutes and increased their lead with try from the very lively Fiona Davidson, and further try from McLean, who also took the extras to give Sharks a 0-15 lead at half time.

Stern words from the Worcester coaches saw a more determined effort at the opening of the second period with a try on 45 minutes from Worcester’s outstanding player, Bianca Blackburn. Goddard took the extras. However, their comeback was short-lived as McLean added her second try, also converting minutes later, then added a penalty.

The home side rallied and Blackburn again crossed the line and the Goddard conversion on 76 minutes gave the home side some hope of salvaging the game, but Sharks were undaunted pressing to the end with a try from Emily Hunter, again converted by the excellent McLean.

This was a disappointing performance from Worcester who were outplayed in every department and must compose themselves for the final league game at Lichfield next Sunday, January 18th before returning to the Senior Cup campaign.