MATCH REPORT | Saracens Women 29-36 Harlequins Women
Saracens Women started their Allianz Cup campaign with a narrow defeat as they were beaten 29-36 by Harlequins at StoneX Stadium.
Alex Austerberry’s side trailed by 12 points heading in to the final quarter but never gave in and almost completed a remarkable comeback but had to settle for two bonus points.
It was Quins who were first out of the blocks and they surged in to the lead with just four minutes played. A 50:22 gave them good field position, and then former Saracen Bryony Cleall bulldozed over from close range to open the scoring. The conversion from Emily Scott meant the visitors had an early 7-0 lead.
Sarries then sparked in to life and scored twice in as many minutes to turn the game on its head.
First a penalty was kicked to the corner and after the maul charged towards the line, Bryony Field was able to carry from just a metre out and score our first try of the season. Amelia Macdougall’s brilliant touchline conversion brought the hosts back level.
Then almost straight from the restart a fantastic try from Sydney Gregson sent the home crowd in to delirium. Ella Wyrwas’ intelligent chip ahead bounced up perfectly for the centre who stepped the final defender and used her pace to dive over under the posts. The extras were added once again, and all of a sudden Sarries were 14-7 ahead.
Quins then drew themselves back level when Cleall scored her second of the night with another strong carry. They took play right up to the line after a succession of penalties and eventually the pressure told as she forced her way over the whitewash from close range. The conversion made ti 14-14 with 20 minutes gone.
Sarries were looking slick in attack with some innovative moves between the forwards and backs, and that was shown just before the half hour as a superb score from Emma Taylor put them back in front.
A penalty was kicked to the corner and then from the lineout it was quickly popped back to Field who was brought down just inches from the line. They kept going through the phases and then the Canadian forced her way through as the hosts gave themselves a five point advantage.
Quins wrestled their way in front just before half time with two tries in quick succession to edge ahead. Katie Shillaker was the beneficiary of a huge overlap on the right to dive over, and then Lucy Heryet drove over from close range to give the visitors a 24-19 lead after an enthralling first 40.
Sarries started the second half brightly and almost got themselves level in sensational style. A penalty was taken quickly and Gregson raced through the middle before releasing Isla Alejandro who was hauled down just short, denying a try of the season contender.
They were then punished for not taking that chance as Quins gave themselves some breathing space with their fifth try of the evening. They went from side to side and then found Amy Layzell on the wing who powered over from 20 metres out with a strong finish. The conversion from Ella Cromack meant Sarries now trailed by 12 points with 25 minutes remaining.
Sarries forced their way back in to the game on the hour mark to set up a thrilling finish. They kicked a penalty to the corner and Field mauled over from the lineout for her second of the evening to bring the hosts back to within a score.
The lead reduced further five minutes later as Field completed her hat-trick with 15 minutes left. A sliced clearance gave Sarries a lineout deep in the 22, and once again they went to their trusted maul and Field was there at the base to bring Sarries within two points.
Just as it looked like they had all the momentum however Quins struck back as Shillaker scored her second of the evening. A neat chip over the top bounced favourably for the visitors and the winger was able to bounce to put them seven in front once again.
Sarries gave it everything in the closing stages and had a number of opportunities to rescue a draw but couldn’t quite get over the line and Quins ended up securing the victory.