Source: @AshSportsPhotos

PWR – Round 8 Preview

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The big one this week is once more at the StoneX, another chance for Chiefs to prove they are a match for the perennial top-dogs.

They have grown angry since it became apparent that the PWR board might actually enforce one of its significant regulations, a limit on non-England qualified players. Whether that will make them even keener on victory remains the big unknown.

At all events, the selectors have found room for at least five EQPs in the starting Fifteen.

Quins have a chance to secure two wins on the trot for the first time this season, but they must expect Lightning to regain their best form some time soon. The Midlanders have faced last year’s two finalists in succession.

Trailfinders will complete the same challenge as they take on the title-holders at home, again late in the day; it’s a double-header for them. They have done enough to prove their right to be sitting at the top table, but that’s not the same as winning matches against the best.

One fascinating detail about G-H’s success: they kick the ball (and regain it) more than any other club (thanks OPTA).

Sarries will face a similar double. After hosting Chiefs, next week they’ll travel to the west country to help deny Glos-Pury the pleasure of a second championship trophy. That won’t be a game for the faint-hearted. And Alex Austerberry is finding it harder and harder to pick holes in his squad’s performances.

It would be a small miracle if Tigers gained a point facing Bears; if they don’t start gathering a few in the new year, we have to wonder when they will. And should they not, somebody may raise the question, how did they come to receive an invitation to the dance?

Dave Ward has admitted Bears’ indifferent form. Though they can expect to win by a margin, he may add extra targets; for example, to complete a clean sheet, and that means keeping Meg Jones quiet.

More of OPTA’s stats make interesting reading, especially winning margins. At present they read:

7-point margin or less: 4 matches
8-14 point margin: 6 matches
15-20 point margin: 4 matches
21+ point margin: 12 matches

So plenty of tight(ish) finishes, but big victories win hands down.

Fixtures Saturday 13 January:

Leicester Tigers v Bristol Bears, KO 13.00
Quins v Loughborough Lightning, KO 14.00
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs, KO 14.30
Trailfinders Women v Gloucester-Hartpury, KO 16.45
Sale Sharks bye

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

Afterthoughts

It’s noticeable how many clubs are advertising girls’ intro sessions to their programme.

Equally, clubs are presenting you with an (almost) full-day menu for coming matches (Gates open at 11 am, or earlier! Rather like a cricket match, the game has to be fitted in or around a choice of meals.

Now it’s car-parking charges: £8 for your chauffeur-driven Roller at Welford Road.

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