Sarries sail over the horizon

  • +1

Saracens v Gloucester-Hartpury

Two barely recognisable squads gave the lie to the term ’reserve weekend’. The unofficial international between Wales and the USA Falcons deprived the head coaches of a host of players. Contracted England players were noticeable for their absence and Sonia Green was a late withdrawal.

This is the game that had to be delayed after storm damage to the StoneX Stadium.

Gloucester-Hartpury started promisingly but a, attacking line-out near the line failed to work, so a first chance went begging. It took Sarries thirteen minutes to be awarded a scrum; from it Ella Wyrwas wriggled through right to the line. Only three minutes later a fine G-H attack saw Alicia Maude, the other No 9, score after she had set the move going.

In the second quarter Sarries’ forwards began to dominate, Mackenzie Carson running in from a distance after a great pack drive. But G-H kept fighting. Millie Wood making a strong run down the right touchline. The ball came back inside for Anna Caplice to dive over.

Half-time 14-12

It’s remarkable how often Sarries have found themselves in this sort of position this season. And here they had not one of their England players on hand to sort things out.

G-H won a penalty right in front after much pressure. Mo Hunt, who had come off the bench midway through the first half, wisely opted for the posts. Daisy Fahey obliged. (14-15) The visitors were in the lead for the first time, but they were to discover why their opponents lie seven places above them in the table.

Now Sarries were swinging along as the pack took charge. Alysha Corrigan, in the centre today, made an outside break and sold a dummy switch for good measure. Hunt bought it. (21-15)

The next try really shouldn’t have happened. Lisa Martin missed touch from a penalty, but G-H failed to clear the ball at the first opportunity. They tried to pick and go, but almost inevitably lost possession. Kelsey Clifford was the beneficiary with the try-bonus point.

Even without the usual experts on hand the Sarries pack now completed an accurate line-out drive.

Try to May Campbell, the one remaining expert. (35-15)

Ellie Underwood hadn’t looked comfortable at full-back, but restored to the wing she completed a fine try, refusing to be held up by determined defenders.

The Cherry-and-Whites finished the game inside Sarries’ 22, but couldn’t find the cohesion and control to hit the target. They had scored three fine tries, but not enough to earn them a single point from their trip to London.

The game did huge credit to both clubs and the league in general. With line-ups looking more like an Allianz Cup match, the standards were gratifyingly high.

Now comes the Big Break, with nothing to entertain us except… a new-look Six Nations!

Result: 35-20

Player of the Match: May Campbell

: 1 Kelsey Clifford, 2 May Campbell, 3 Alex Ellis, 4 Fiona McIntosh, 5 Sophie Tansley, 6 Catha Jacobs, 7 Katie Barnes, 8 Mackenzie Carson; 9 Ella Wyrwas, 10 Lisa Martin; 11 Emma Uren, 12 Alysha Corrigan, 13 Hannah Casey (captain), 14 Tilly Vaughan-Fowler, 15 Chantelle Miell

Bench: 16 Sarah Bebbington, 17 TBC, 18 Jodie Turl, 20 Cece Gordon-Hill, 21 Anna Goddard, 22 Ellie Lennon, 23 Sophie Shams

Gloucester-Hartpury: 1 Ranni Samuda, 2 Ellie Gilbert, 3 Kathryn Buggy, 4 Eeva Pouhjanheimo, 5 Shya Pinnock, 6 Tabitha Copson, 7 Megan Isaac, 8 Anna Caplice; 9 Alicia Maude, 10 Daisy Fahey, 11 Pip Hendy, 12 Rachel Lund, 13 Sophie Tandy, 14 Millie Wood, 15 Ellie Underwood

Bench: 16 Jordan Russell, 17 Amber Schonert, 18 Amy Dale, 19 Georgia Brock, 20 Elise Dickie, 21 Pippa Robinson, 22 Mo Hunt

Referee: Dan Jones
ARs: Mike Woods and Bill Burton

Table ​​​                      P​     W​      L​       D    Pts

Saracens​​               16      15      1     0    72
Bristol​​​                   16      ​11      4     1    59
Exeter​​​                    16      11     4     1     56
Harlequins  ​​         16      11      5     0  ​  55
Wasps                    16       9     6      1 ​   50
Loughborough ​​​    16       8      6     2    46
Gloucester-H        16       8      ​7     1    41
Worcester​​              16        4    12     0   24
Sale                   ​​      15         1    14   0      8
DMPDS​​                  16         ​0​   16    0      0