Source: Bruce Perkins

Tyrrells Round 17 – A Landmark Day!

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Important results everywhere, but pride of place must go to:

Waterloo 19 Worcester 27

Yes, the Valkyries post their first victory after 35 attempts in the Tyrrells. Congratulations!

The smiles on their faces post-match said everything. The tweeter got so excited, we read COVY! instead of COYV! No apologies needed. It was good seeing Lydia Thompson’s name appearing on the team-list again and, sure enough, she registered the first try – from this season’s favourite ploy, the cross-kick.

Lightning 28 Saracens 31

Amongst the heavyweights there was high drama in the East Midlands. In a game offering nearly as many internationals caps as any 6 Nations match, Lightning took the lead over Saracens only in its dying embers, 28-24. But true to form, Sarries rallied, as they have whenever they’ve been under pressure – just that one exception this season: at the Stoop in the autumn where they failed to turn a game that was under threat.

Gloucester-Hartpury 20 Wasps 47

These were critical times for Wasps and Glos-Pury, two teams that are as unalike as you please. The Amber-and-Blacks (they’ve moved upmarket to become Black-and-Gold), are long-established and famed; their hosts are spring chickens who have made enormous strides in the shortest time, based on a college that is producing internationals by the score.

They have been in a season-long battle for the all-important fourth place, Wasps keeping ahead by a slender margin. Now in mid-March there were two points between them, and the winner would take (nearly) all – a place in the knock-outs.

And it’s bad, sad news for the hosts: they succumbed at Kingsholm by the decisive margin of 27 points. It started so well with Kelly Smith going over after three minutes – her 23rd offering of the season (international tries don’t count, of course!) On half-an-hour she repeated the dose.

But by half-time (10-20) Wasps’ forward power was taking its toll, and they were happy for Lizzie Goulden to strike for the posts whenever the referee gave her the opportunity. She popped three over. (15-23)

Wasps even opted for a scrum at a penalty. On the the way home their pack will be patiently explaining to the rest of the swarm how games are won: up front. Glos-Pury have an almost complete international back line, but without the right possession they couldn’t withstand the Londoners’ pressure. So Wasps’ lead stretches to six points and their place in the play-offs is secured.

Bristol 24 Richmond 5

In the one mid-table clash (let’s be polite to two clubs who have been under-performing most of the season) Richmond once again got off to a cracking start. Alex Zdunek went over after three minutes. But as has happened before, they could get no further. A player called Bern made a huge impression with her running skills and power, though she had to spend a spell on the naughty chair in between.

Bristol were the side able to complete promising moves, finally bringing up a try-bonus point to stretch their table-lead over the Londoners to a distant 16 points. Amber Reed was another Red Rose happily restored to the strength after a lengthy absence.

Quins 76 DMP 12

Down at a blowy Surrey Sports Park a close encounter wasn’t on the agenda. Quins’ array of internationals weren’t all on show; Jess Breach was allowed to watch from the sidelines after her non-stop service for the nation, and Vickii Cornborough waited till later to make an appearance. But since Chloe Butler felt unwell pre-match, Abbie Scott tied up her boots for the start.

That gave us the added pleasure of seeing England’s two foremost exponents at the line-out in direct opposition. Tamara Taylor worked assiduously to bolster her team’s efforts and give sage advice, but they had to wait till just before half-time for the results to show. Then they mounted attacks down the slope that earned them two well-merited tries, first to full-back Evie Tonkin, the second to Taylor herself.

But like their fellow sufferers towards the bottom of the table, they have trouble holding off determined attacks. Quins showed power and pace in their operations, so the gaps opened up all too readily.

They were merciless on the ball, totalling a round dozen of tries by the end. Heather Cowell added three more to her weighty collection. Breach’s replacement on the other wing, Beth Wilcock, went over twice on debut. Ellie Green confirmed her outstanding form with the boot, converting five of the tries, three from the edge. When she departed, Emily Scott took over duties with equal success.

All Scores:

Gloucester-Hartpury 20 Wasps 47
Waterloo 19 Valkyries 27
Bristol 24 Richmond 5
Lightning 28 Saracens 31
Quins 76 DMP 12

Tyrrells Premier 15s Table after 17 rounds:

1. Saracens                          79
2. Harlequins                      72
3. Lightning                         67
4. Wasps                              56
5. Gloucester-Hartpury    50
6. Bristol Bears                  44
7. Richmond                       28
8. DMP Sharks                   17
9. Waterloo                         15
10. Valkyries                        9