PWR Round Three – Quins v Saracens

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After the game at Sale was called off owing to a frozen pitch, we were left with a single Saturday match. How times change.

This famed London derby turned into a drubbing for Quins. In freezing conditions – most of the backs sporting black leggings – they had no answer to Sarries’ power, skill and efficiency. They hindered their own efforts with repeated infringements, quite apart from avoidable errors.

Yet Quins were impressive to start with, Flo Robinson getting the ball away smartly. But a nasty looking injury to Carys Phillips, only recently signed on at the Stoop, brought a lengthy interruption. Players left the field.

Quins proved incapable of completing promising moves. Now Sophie De Goede, not admitted to the World Team of the Year for reasons known only to the adjudicating panel, snaffled a line-out ball to deny them. This was a feature to be repeated right through the game.

The next moment May Campbell, who just gets better and better, won her fifth turnover of the season as Quins pressed. She seemed to be struck on the head, but the referee wasn’t convinced. After some treatment she continued, as pugnacious as ever.

Quins had had the better of the argument for 20 minutes, but the score was 0-0. Any opponents of Sarries will know that is not good news. Inevitably, they built an attack; Quins conceded a series of penalties; Sarries drove a maul, one more penalty, a catch and drive and Campbell was over. De Goede’s kick from the edge hit the crossbar and went over. 0-7

The first of Quins’ yellows came on 26 minutes, as Kaitlan Leaney was found guilty of collapsing a maul. The next moment Sarries seemed to be over from a front peel, but no, there had been a knock-on.

Now it was De Goede again, running clear. But no again, the short pass from Amelia MacDougall was forward. The 18-year-old typified the contrast between the two teams, totally at home, almost completely error-free.

By contrast, Bella Mckenzie now joined her fellow Wallaroo in the sin-bin, guilty of the second of two deliberate knock-ons close to the home line.

For the 9,000th time this season, 15 v 13.

As the break approached, Sarries upped the pace. The sequence was familiar: penalty, kick to the corner, catch-and-drive, try to the England captain. 0-12

They had time for another wonderful move, De Goede involved twice, but no more scores.

Half-Time 0-12

Quins were looking like a shadow of their former selves.

This was the final score in the west country derby the day before. Could Sarries extend that lead?  Yes! Quins went on upsetting the referee.

The one classy player in quarters was once more Ellie Kildunne, but even she couldn’t transform her agile movements into a score. After one hot-stepping run she was caught upright and conceded a scrum.

But if the rest of the side had been up to her standards, the result might have been very different. Quins have a number of injuries, but the effect is a patchwork of a team, some distance from likely knock-out participants. They kept on making minor and major errors.

It was all Sarries now; they kept punching at the line, helped enormously by the return of Poppy Cleall to full fitness. Then, as the ball came back, the teenager MacDougall hoisted a delicate cross-kick for Paige Farries to grasp on the right. Another unlikely conversion by De Goede. 0-19

Now came a move typical of Quins today. They were on the attack: McKenzie sent a fine long pass right to Kildunne; on to Emily Scott, but she doesn’t have the pace for a true winger any more. She passed back inside, Kildunne wriggled close to the line but isolated, and penalty to Sarries.

Now time for a third Quins‘ yellow card; Shaunagh Brown was found guilty of moving off-side at a retreating maul, then pulling it down.

Almost inevitably Sarries responded with a penalty try. 0-26

Now the Farries try was repeated, minus the cross-kick; the effect of 15 v 14. 0-31. That was the result of a final all-consuming forward drive.

In the encircling gloom there was little left for the loyal Quins’ supporters to cling to. Like Bristol the day before, they had been nilled at home.

Result: 0-31

Referee: Mike Hudson
ARs: Lionel Spooner and Gareth Holsgrove
with thanks to


This will be Rachael Burford’s last season.

Jade Konkel is due for an operation. This meant drafting Shaunagh Brown in at No 8.

Quins are missing a number of players (Lucy Packer, Bryony Cleall, Katy Mew, Freya Aucken, etc), but I’m not convinced by the overall quality of the squad; there are too many passengers. Even Lagi Tuima, Burford (now 37) and Scott (having to play on the wing) looked out of sorts.

Rosie Galligan may get drummed out of the Forwards Union. She plays far too like a back. Another ex-Quins player they couldn’t afford to lose.