Match report: Loughborough Lightning 12 - 22 Saracens Women
Saracens Women produced a stunning second-half display to score 22 unanswered points and seal a 22-12 victory against Loughborough Lightning in the Allianz Cup.
The cup campaign looked like it could well be over at half-time but some relentless attacking pressure yielded four tries in the second period for Alex Austerberry’s side.
With the harsh Loughborough wind playing a huge factor in the direction of game it was no surprise that all 34 points were scored at the same end.
Loughborough came out the blocks quickest in front of an expectant home crowd and recorded the game’s first try inside ten minutes after a sustained spell of possession.
The Sarries defence was tested throughout the half and rallied on a number of occasions to stop the hosts adding to their score.
Loughborough looked to the line-out to force their way through but with the wind wreaking havoc it was difficult to set up a driving maul cleanly much to the relief of the Sarries defence.
When Sarries did get on the ball Carla Wardle looked threatening and often required a number of Loughborough defenders to drag her down.
In defence, Sarah Bebbington stood out as Sarries appeared to have kept the scoreline to 7-0 when playing into the wind but the hosts scored with the final play of the first half.
Fran Goldthorp weaved her way through a tiring backline to add to Loughborough’s lead.
The half-time team talk from Austerberry paid dividends immediately when Jodie Mallard spotted a gap in the Lightning defence and powered through to score a traditional scrum-half try.
The momentum shifted with Sarries first score and they had a second shortly after. The forwards peppered the Loughborough try line and eventually broke through to pull Saracens within two points.
Sarries refused to back down and came within inches of taking the lead for the first time with an hour played, only to be denied by the referee’s whistle for an infringement at the breakdown.
Not to be disheartened, the third try and decisive try came after 66 minutes when May Campbell took a quick tap and go to power home from close range. The strength of the Sarries pack proving too hot for the Loughborough defence to handle.
Loughborough briefly showed signs of a retaliation but Bebbington again led the defence well and relieved the pressure with a crucial turnover inside the Sarries half.
With just three points in it up stepped Rocky Clark to score her first try of the season and put the game beyond doubt.
Substitute Ellie Lennon added the extras to add further daylight between Sarries and the hosts and make the final few stages a little more comfortable.
Loughborough desperately tried to strike back in the closing moments but the defence which limited the score in testing first-half conditions were again defiant when required.
The victory is a huge boost to the Women in Black’s cup hopes after defeat to Worcester last weekend.
The cup action continues next Sunday at the StoneX as Sarries host Sale who are also one from two in the competition.
Written by Ben Hart.