Source: @AshSportsPhotos

PWR – Round 7

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Saracens’ fans will be relieved to hear that their favourite side won. They had won each of their last 17 matches, and beaten the Sharks by 40+ points at every meeting between the sides (thanks OPTA), so pre-match fans’ teeth must have been chattering with fear and trepidation. They did fail to mount 70 points.

Quins at last managed a second win, but the scoreline reflects weaknesses visible in Round One when they leaked 17 points against the other newcomers Trailfinders. There must be concern on the staff that Tigers moved to within two points (24-26) in the second half, as the bench was emptied. It needed two tries from Australian lock Kaitlyn Leaney to give the scoreboard some respectability for the London side.

Tigers can take heart from winning the second half 17-14, but they still haven’t won a game. I retain my doubts about their recruitment policy over the summer.

Saturday 6 January

Gloucester-Hartpury 42 Loughborough Lightning 24
Leicester Tigers 24 Harlequins 33
Sale Sharks 3 Saracens 69

The Sunday Match

Exeter Chiefs 38 Trailfinders Women 19

As expected, Exeter Chiefs saw off Trailfinders Women 38-19 to maintain thir pursuit of the PWR leaders. They had the bonus point wrapped up well before half-time, but from there Trailfinders once more showed the ability to come back and score good tries, three of them. The problem is to find this form from the start, and maintain it. That is the big challenge against the top teams.

Table ​​​

                                    P​     W​      L​      B    Pts

Saracens                  6      6      ​0        6     30
Exeter​​​                       6     5        1        7     27
Glos-Pury         ​​       5      5      0        4      23
Bears       ​​                 6       3      3         3     15
Trailfinders      ​​​       6       2     4          3     11
Harlequins  ​​           6      2      4          3      11  ​
Lightning                6        2     3         3     10
Sale         ​​                 5       1       4         3       7
Tigers​​​                      6       0      6         2       2


Nine of the fifteen Players of the Week in the previous Round 6 are NEQPs. We can be either delighted to see all the healthy international competition on view in the league, or worried about the squeezing out of home-grown talent.

The big talking point is indeed the question of limiting the number of NEQPs in the league. It’s too complicated a matter to deal with here; I’ll leave it for later. But it must have rattled around Sandy Park’s stands. No doubt which side of the fence Chiefs’ fans are sitting oon.

Gloucester-Hartpury had to post an alternative route to their ground as the main road was flooded. They didn’t indicate the distance involved, but it looked like a cross-country tramp.
It didn’t affect their own forward march: they look well-nigh unstoppable. Let’s bring on a WXV1 trophy winner for the final stages! (Mackenzie Carson).

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