Match Report: Saracens Women 36-10 Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC
Written by Jonny Bray
It was a Valentine’s Day massacre at the StoneX Stadiums as Saracens Women overcame a defiant Gloucester Hartpury Women’s RFC in a convincing 36-10 win.
Poppy Cleall scored for the Women in Black in a tight first-half before Zoe Harrison kicked a penalty for a 10-0 half-time lead.
After the break Saracens scored again through Number 8 Cleall and Rocky Clark but Gloucester-Hartpury responded through Kelly Smith
Captain Lotte Clapp and Deborah Fleming crossed the whitewash to put the hosts out of reach ahead of Millie Wood’s consolation in a match which saw Bryony Cleall make her long-awaited return from injury.
Aggressive Sarries defence kept Gloucester pinned in their half for much of the opening 10 minutes and the West Country side responded by repeatedly kicking for territory.
The visitors maintained their game plan and created some good opportunities through Daisy Fahey’s excellent short kicking game and patient attacking patterns.
However, Alex Austerberry’s Saracens showed their quality with the ball in hand and after some powerful carries, Poppy Cleall went over.
The England international showed off her now trademarked finishing ability to burst through several Gloucester defenders and Harrison converted the try before kicking a penalty just minutes later.
Saracens spent the final minutes of the half inside their own 22 but passionate defence and outstanding rucking saw them regain the ball to end the half 10-0 up.
The hosts started the second half superbly and after Georgia Evans carried the ball to the try line, Poppy Cleall showed ingenuity to peel off three defenders and score her second try which was converted by Holly Aitchison.
Veteran prop Clark then scored her fourth try of the season in similar circumstances after Sarries once again battled to the Gloucester line from the kick-off and Aitchison once again converted.
Gloucester would not lie down and nearly scored through Smith but tireless work from Cleall led to her ripping the ball as Smith went to touch it down over the try line.
She scored not long after though following patient attacking play from Gloucester which left them with a one-woman overlap and she showed great pace to get round Lotte Clapp for an unconverted try.
Clapp made amends shortly after by securing the bonus point, scoring in the corner after a superb looping pass from Chantelle Miell and this time Sarah Mckenna converted it to put Saracens 29-5 ahead.
Her opposite wing Fleming spotted a gap inside the Gloucester 22 minutes later to put Saracens even further ahead and despite Wood’s late score, Saracens held on to remain top of the Allianz Premier 15s table.