The sun was out in Darlington on Sunday as Sharks took on top 4 outfit Saracens in the final game of the regular season and the last game of the womenâ€™s premiership as we know it.
Alongside the match Sharks hosted over 100 of their loyal supporters for the Annual Wine and Cheese Luncheon and welcomed touring side Selby Pens (u13 and u15) who formed a guard of honour, along with Mowden Park Juniors, as the teams took to the field.
The first half of the game was to be a battle of defences as both teams applied some rapid line speed.Â Sharks adapted their game well and maintained possession forcing Saracens to infringe at the breakdown.Â Sharks captain George Roberts kicked excellently for the corner and the well organised driven lineout resulted in the first points of the game when prop Heather Kerr powered over the line from close range after 5 minutes.Â Fly half Hannah Morton missed the wide out conversion by only a few inches. 5-0
Saracens were next to score when hooker Vicky Fleetwood muscled over the line 5 minutes later, the added conversion giving Saracens a slender 2 point advantage.Â The remaining 30 minutes of the half saw a great display of rugby as supporters soaked up the sunshine at The Northern Echo Arena.Â Both sides had opportunities to score but neither were able to get over the line.
Sharks Coreen Grant had the crowd on their feet as she made a surging run through the Saracens defence advancing from deep in her own half to the Saracens 22m.Â Both teams appeared to be solar powered as they kept up a ferocious pace throughout the half.Â As the teams wentin for half time it was Saracens who were ahead on the score board but it Sharks who had dominated the half.
Coming out for the second half Sharks looked to maintain pressure after dominating set piece in the first half and generally having the upper hand.Â Sharks conceded a succession of penalties giving Saracens opportunities to attack from set piece but each time the home side found a way to grind out a turn over and clear their lines.
Sharks welcomed second row Abbie Scott back into the fray after a long layoff with a knee injury.Â At the same time Freya Wilde made way for replacement scrum half Caity Mattinson.
A turning point in the game came when Sharks prop Heather Kerr made a barnstorming run through the middle of the Saracens defence setting a platform deep in the Saracens 22m.Â The ball popped out of the breakdown and Saracens quickly turned their defence into attack outpacing the Sharks first line of defence.Â Zoe Aldcroft made a colossal effort to get back and make a crucial tackle close to the Sharkâ€™s try line.
Saracens were not prepared to let the opportunity slip and in the ensuing phase it was Fleetwood again was on hand to cross the line and break the deadlock of the second half.Â Sharks captain Roberts was injured in the melee and left the field with a blood injury forcing the home side to shuffle the team around.
Saracens sensed their opportunity and at 70 minutes snuck another try in to take a firm grip of the game.Â Roberts returned to the field patched up and Sharks fought hard in front of a vocal home crowd as time ran out on the game.
Sharks would like to extend a huge â€˜thank youâ€™ to everyone who shared the day and the season with them.Â The whole team are incredibly grateful for the support they receive from supporters and the wider club and hope that you will all join them as they venture into the new Super League next season. Watch this space for news of exciting opportunities to be a part of the new era of Sharks rugby!
Report courtesy of DMP Sharks