Source: Loughborough Lightning

PWR – Round 12 Preview

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The news is dominated by the return to action of great Red Roses.

Emily Scarratt rejoins Lightning, two years after she needed an operation on an injured neck. The world of rugby will wish her the best of luck as she steps out at Ashton Gate.

And Amy Cokayne will wait the call for her overdue debut for Tigers at Welford Road. The question is, who have been more impatient: the players themselves or their fans, so desperate to see them in action again?

For the Bears the return of Simi Pam is equally significant. The Bears and Lightning occupy mid-table positions, so are all too anxious to improve matters and secure a place in the play-offs.

A Long Weekend

Once more matches spread across the weekend. Four clubs have the pleasure of kicking off long after sunset on a Friday evening. They entice customers with the promise of flares, fireworks and fun.

On Sunday Gloucester-Hartpury can extend their 4-point lead at the top of the table as they travel north to visit Sale, who have mustered three points all season. As luck would have it, G-H’s closest chasers, Saracens, take the weekend off. It’s Sharks’ misfortune to face the leaders twice in a row, though their management will put it to them as the best sort of challenge.

At the other end of the table, the two newcomers to PWR meet for the second time. In their first clash Trailfinders came through by the skin of their teeth. They are sure to find Tigers a tougher nut to crack this time, after their fine recent showings. You might wonder whether TF would like to have their four GB Sevens players available, Emma Uren (captain), Amy Wilson Hardy, Abi Burton and Ellie Boatman, but they are on their way to Vancouver. It’s five rounds since they last won, while Tigers have won two of their last three. And they have just added Eloise Hayward to their strength, as well as Cokayne.

In the remaining games the two west country clubs should be more than hopeful of seeing off their latest opponents. Neither Quins nor Lightning are firing on all cylinders at present. It’s up to those two to narrow the gap. Even though upsets keep coming, the general pattern grows clearer: the top four are pulling away from the rest.

England’s selectors will have their beady eyes on affairs even more closely than usual. John Mitchell may well have an ideal XV in mind already, but the players know they must produce their best to stay in contention for a place in the 6N squad.

One group that will be missing are the Wallaroos. They have returned south to join their teams for the Super W. In my view that is a wholly positive move. It’s important to have national leagues as strong as possible. And it will help PWR clubs struggling to conform to the eligibility rules.

Fixtures

Friday 23 February
Leicester Tigers v Trailfinders Women, Welford Road, KO 19.00
Bristol Bears v Loughborough Lightning, Ashton Gate, KO 19.45

Saturday 24 February
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins, Sandy Park, KO 14.30

Sunday 25 February
Sale Sharks v Gloucester-Hartpury, CorpAcq, KO 13.00

Table                          P​       W​      L​      Pts

Glos-Pury         ​​       10      10      0      49
Saracens                  10      9      ​1        45
Exeter​​​                      10      7       3        38
Bears       ​​                10      6      4        30
Lightning                  9      4       5        22
Harlequins  ​​           10      3       7        20  ​
Trailfinders      ​​​       9       2       7         13
Tigers​​​                      10       2      8          8
Sale         ​​                 10       1      9          3

NB Both Tigers and Sharks docked 5 points

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