It was great to see Amy Cokayne restored to active rugby service for Wasps in the most auspicious of circumstances. She has just graduated as an RAF officer. Is she their first England international since the great Rory Underwood, still the nation’s record try-scorer?
Saracens turn the screw to deny Richmond
Sarries proved their strength in depth back in November when they beat Lightning 29-0 while offering seven players to England’s team at Twickenham. On Saturdaythey were without Poppy Cleall, Ellena Perry and Marlie Packer, as well as Sonia Green (a long-term injury). In hideous conditions at Allianz Park they displayed skills which Richmond were unable to match.
Bad weather lays emphasis on core elements of play: giving and taking a pass, recycling accurately, catching the high ball. Every time Richmond failed to maintain possession, they were driven back by hard running or well-placed kicks. How they would have benefited from Abi Chamberlain’s presence at outside half to put boot to ball and force Sarries to turn.
When Richmond dropped a high ball in the opening minute, the response was immediate. Vicky Fleetwood flew down the left wing, looking for all the world like her skipper, Lotte Clapp. 5-0
This set the tone for the rest of the game: Sarries forcing, Richmond fingers in the dyke. Not long after, Sarries opted for a scrum at a penalty and Bryony Cleall (at No 8 in place of her sister) finished off a powerful drive. Georgie Lingham, now entrusted with the place-kicks, converted. 12-0
Even though the hosts were deprived of two of their leading forwards, Richmond’s eight had no answer up front. They twisted out of shape again to allow Cara Wardle to slice through and score under the posts. 19-0
On the half hour the visitors at last got their act together to threaten the line, but a knock-on deprived them of points. Lingham gave another hint of her impressive running powers on the right wing; she accelerated past flailing arms, carved infield and went all the way to the line. Her kick finished off a thoroughly satisfying solo effort..
Half-time: 26-0 Never have 30 players left the field so fast, like lemmings over the cliff.
Sarries won the next trick by reappearing in new dry shirts. By the time Richmond kicked off they were wet. The one-sided story continued, like the rain. Within three minutes Cleall had claimed her second try of the day 31-0
Richmond did have chances to score, but they couldn’t keep the accuracy going right up to the line; a dropped pass or a turnover frustrating their endeavours
Lingham enjoyed another burst, skipping past defenders to score her second on the right. 36-0 As spectators sought shelter higher and higher up the stand, Cleall claimed her hat-trick try. 43-0
With the game moving into its final stages, she broke again, this time providing Lingham with her own hat-trick.
Sadly, Richmond were decisively outplayed in every part of the field. Their pack couldn’t hold the hosts’ power, and when they did have ball in hand, continuity was put under severe pressure.
Stat of the day: the last time Sarries leaked a point was back in Round 8 on 3 November in Bristol. If ever there was a recipe for success!
Final score: 48-0
DMP 7 Bristol 5
Lightning 29 Glos-Pury 10
Waterloo 0 Quins 65
Worcester 5 Wasps 48
Valkyries gave their supporters hope by scoring the first try through Vicky Foxwell, but that was the end of the good news. Amy Cokayne made a long-awaited reappearance after half-time, and sure enough, got herself on the scoreboard with a try. Quite unbelievably, Wasps’ next try was Nolli Waterman’s first of the season!
The outstanding result of the weekend came from the far north. With a resolute defensive performance beyond the call of duty DMP saw off the challenge of the Bears 7-5. A first-half try by Georgina Roberts was converted, crucially, by Hannah Morton.
Chloe Edwards of Quins summed things up nicely: ‘Playing conditions today (Waterloo, North Lancashire) are exactly why I moved to the south.’ She wasn’t at Allianz Park.
Table after 12 Rounds:
The major point at issue is: who will claim that fourth spot for the play-offs? At present Wasps and Gloucester-Hartpury are separated by a clear 6 points, but neither club is producing the consistency its coaches would like to see:
Wasps’ recent balance sheet reads: LWLWW