MATCH REPORT | Sale Sharks Women 3-69 Saracens Women (PWR - Rd7)
Saracens Women put in a dominant performance, to start 2024 with a bang, up in Sale.
After an unbeaten start to the season, Sarries knew that this one would be a physical test, and so it proved, as Sale probed and asked questions in the opening minutes.
On a pitch that was carrying a large amount of water, it was the Sarries pack who opened the scoring, as Akina Gondwe crashed over from a devastating driving maul.
It was still proving tough going for Sarries against a Sale side who responded with a penalty. However, the hosts were undone on the 20-minute mark, as Paige Farries found space out wide and cantered in from distance.
Whilst Saracens were looking to continue to open up in attack, it was the work of the pack that was continuing to create the opportunities.
Poppy Cleall was industrious throughout the match and showed several deft touches as Sarries continued to probe and challenge the Sharks defence.
In the end, the pressure told, with Marlie Packer scoring off the back of another driving maul.
The co-captain wasn’t done there either, as she broke free from another relentless maul at the end of the first half, to crash over for her second of the afternoon; securing the bonus-point before the break.
The second half saw Sarries start like a freight train, as they scored three quickfire tries to end the match as a contest.
The first came from Cleall, after the number 8 had shown superb awareness to keep her side’s attacking flowing after good initial work from Farries. With a penalty awarded to her side, the number 8 took it quickly, to crash over under the posts.
Moments later Sarries were in again, and this one was arguably the score of the match.
After a massive scrum inside their own 22, Sarries looked to exploit the shortside, with Lotte Clapp bursting free into space. Cleall was involved again, with a deft show and go to keep the move flowing, before she found Wardle and Gregson, with the centre pair releasing Jess Breach to charge in for the score.
Minutes later, Sarries had their seventh, as Leanne Infante sniped off the base of the ruck to run in from 40m; the scrum-half just having the speed to evade the chasing defender.
Sarries made a raft of changes on the 50-minute mark, but that didn’t halt their desire to attack, with Breach nearly scoring a stunning solo try.
The fullback skipped out of danger deep inside her own half and burst passed several defenders to power towards the Sale 22. After clipping the ball past the fullback, she looked to regather and score, only to be denied by the bounce of the ball.
Sarries didn’t have to wait long for another score though, as Farries sliced through the Sale defence for her second, after another dominant maul from the pack had sent the Sharks back at a rate of knots.
In the final quarter, Sarries continued to accelerate away, as they found themselves within metres of the line. The pack kept it tight and continued to build the phases, before McKinley Hunt spotted a gap and crashed over for a try on her debut.
Saracens were continuing to find gaps in the Sharks defence, with Farries securing her hattrick after a lung-busting break from deep inside her own half.
Compatriot Sophie de Goede continued her fine afternoon off the tee and then added a classy score of her own, as she weaved through a tiring Sale defence to dot down out wide, sealing a superb result for her side.
Sale to their credit, continued to attack until the final whistle, but the Sarries defence held firm to keep the hosts to a solitary penalty for their efforts.