MATCH REPORT | Saracens Women 31-26 Wasps
Saracens Women ended the Premier 15s regular season with a stunning 31-26 comeback victory against Wasps to give them momentum heading into their home semi-final fixture next weekend.
Tries from Alysha Corrigan, Marlie Packer, May Campbell, Holly Aitchison and the winner from Alev Kelter capped off an eventful afternoon in which Sarries lead for a total of three minutes.
With the sun shining down on the StoneX, the opening exchanges were dominated by kicks from the backfield. Sarries quickly began to control possession but loose handling and successful jackaling stifled any rhythm in their attacking game.
Frustrations rose in the tenth minute when Wasps second row Chris Balogun intercepted a pass on the 10-metre line and ran in to score the first points of the game. Florence Williams converted in front of the posts to give her side a 7-0 lead.
A minute later Corrigan read the attacking move in front of her and intercepted brilliantly but eventually found herself isolated as the turnover was called for Wasps.
Consecutive penalties for not rolling away gave Wasps territory near the Sarries line, but the hosts defended the resulting lineout with grit, earning a penalty for their efforts.
The referee’s whistle came into action once more when Sarah McKenna carried the ball into contact and was judged to have not released the ball. Wasps opted to kick for touch and constructed a maul after winning the lineout. Bryony Cleall lingered at the back of the maul before peeling off to score a try in the 25th minute.
The conversion was clean and then five minutes later Ellie Boatman extended the visitors’ lead when she caught the ball on half way, scampered down the flank and dived over in the corner.
Sarries responded in fine fashion in the 38th minute when McKenna found space down the right, drew the defender and passed to the onrushing Corrigan. The Canadian still had much to do, stepping two players before scoring in the corner. Kelter then expertly converted to make the score 21-7 in favour of the visitors at the break.
Wasps came out of the blocks the quickest for the second 40 and began pilling the pressure on. After Sarries stifled an early driving maul, the hosts were undone by a well-executed hard line by Amy Wilson Hardy who broke into space and stepped a defender to score.
Sarries refused to drop their heads and proceeded to march up the field. After stringing together a few phases in the 50th minute, Kelter carried powerfully in the midfield and offloaded to Packer who had the legs to score a much-needed try.
With the conversion missed, the score read 12-26, but that changed once more in the 57th minute when Sarries earnt a lineout in the Wasps 22. A strong maul was constructed from the set piece and Campbell was the beneficiary, falling over the line to covert and make the score 17-26.
Soon after tempers began to flare as Packer and Cleall were both given a yellow card for a tackle off the ball. It was at this point that the game started to ebb and flow, as both sides enjoyed strings of possession but ultimately failed to truly threaten.
That was until Sarries won a lineout deep in the Wasps 22. The ball was quickly recycled to Aitchison who pounced, piercing the Wasps defence to land a vital blow. Kelter hit the conversation to make the score 24-26 with six minutes remaining.
It looked as though Wasps would steal the win until Aitchison, ever the opportunist, broke through the defensive line and drew her defender before offloading to Kelter who crossed the tryline and then converted to make the final score 31-26.
Try, set, match.
Written by Stefan Frost.