Pride of place
DMP Sharks must take centre stage after Round 5 of the Tyrrells Premier 15s. Tamara Taylor was proud beyond measure at the first win over the once-invincible Richmond. This takes them up to 7th in the table and Richmond’s fallible run continues.
DMP 15 Richmond 7
Lightning 36 Bears 18
Saracens 21 Wasps 5
Valkyries 19 Quins 69
Waterloo 10 Glos-Pury 43
Sarries squeeze the pips
Another warm breezy day at Allianz Park saw the two North London rivals tee off against each other again. Wasps were the first side to lower Sarries’ colours last year in a memorable 5-0 win. In the opening stages yesterday it looked as though they could repeat the dose.
The hosts were slow out of their blocks for the second match running. But crucially Wasps failed to get points on the board while close to the enemy line; a fine catch and drive was spoilt by an obstruction. It took Sarries a good 20 minutes to mount a threatening attack, but another penalty against them thwarted that chance.
Much of the play was of international standard – not surprising when we consider the line-up on view: two England full-backs (Nolli Waterman and SarahMcKenna, who once more showed her sterling qualities); two England wingers in direct opposition (Amy Wilson Hardy and Lotte Clapp), two centres (Lauren Cattell and Katie Mason) and four back-rowers making life awkward for each other (Claire Molloy, Poppy Cleall, Vicky Fleetwood and Marlie Packer). If Amy Cokayne, Harriet Millar-Mills, Chantelle Miell, Abby Dow and Rocky Clark had been around too…
There was far more kicking to enjoy than normal, and it was of the highest standard as Nina Vistisen, Lizzie Goulden, Mason and Cattell mastered the wind again and again.
Saracens grew more dominant as half-time approached. Nora Baltruweit was shown a yellow card, but Wasps held out for those 10 minutes. Their determined defence was finally broken when a fine Sarries’ move saw Fleetwood drive over the line on the right. Cattell converted with an outstanding kick in the swirling breeze.
The second half was more one-sided. Sarries got a drive going so well that a penalty try was awarded (14-0). When you offer the opposition an intercept, it’s always wise to throw it to the slowest player on the field. Wasps threw it to Lotte Clapp (21-0).
It’s greatly to Wasps credit that they held Sarries to those three scores and got themselves on the board before the end. Another break by the irrepressible Tova Derk, and Sarah Mitchelson was on hand to plonk the ball over the line (21-5).
So a high-quality game ended with the hosts unable to claim the extra bonus point. That leaves them equal on points with Lightning who saw off Bristol 36-18. The most significant stat in the Premier table is in Sarries’ Points Against column. Even after Wasps’ late try they still haven’t conceded 30 points this season.
Wasps had some recompense in seeing their 2nd XV gain a great victory 15-10. The quality on show highlights the breadth of talent available across the country these days.
Elsewhere, the Valkyries suffered the highest total against this season, going down 19-69 to Quins. While Quins will be delighted with this performance, they’ve lacked the long-term consistency their coaches would have expected. But they know they don’t need to head the table in order to gain the end-of-season trophy – a quirk of modern sport that is not to everyone’s taste.
In the north-west Firwood Waterloo once more achieved two tries, but leaked a worrying 43 versus Gloucester-Hartpury. Six of those scores came in a devastating first-half display as Kelly Smith chalked up a hat-trick. Glos-Pury have one of the most attractive running back-lines in the country.
The England management may already have made their minds up about the final selection for the first Quilters international on 9 November against the USA. But the players don’t know, and the standard of play on show reflects the fact.