MATCH REPORT | Saracens Women 39-26 Exeter Chiefs Women (PWR Rd8)
Saracens Women put in a second-half clinic to ease away from a resilient Exeter side and extend their lead at the top of the table.
On a day when Lotte Clapp made her 150th appearance for the club and Georgia Evans her 50th, Saracens put in a performance that both would be proud of.
There’s a lot of rivalry between Saracens and Exeter in the women’s game and this match was the next chapter of what it already becoming a storied and competitive duel.
In truth, Exeter started the better, as they built the phases in the Saracens half.
Alex Austerberry’s side though, were first out of the blocks and it came in stunning circumstances.
Jess Breach fielded her own kick, with the bounce of the rugby ball deceiving Meryn Doidge, before Poppy Cleall kept play flowing, to allow Ella Wyrwas to skip over for a superb opening score!
Sarries were continuing to pepper the Chiefs defence, as they attacked in waves, with another try following shortly after.
This time, it was Sophie Bridger causing chaos, before Sarries kept the ball alive. May Campbell popped up with the ball and, after keeping herself alive in the tackle, the hooker bounded over the line with a superb dive to extend her side’s advantage.
Exeter are too good a side to give an inch though and they hit back after the 20-minute mark through Hope Rogers to cut the deficit.
Exeter were building now and they scored a second from close range through Cli Moloney, to hit the front.
Saracens needed a response and they found it through their Canadian superstar Sophie de Goede, as she picked up the ball on the far side and burst through multiple tackles to crash over out wide and retake the lead.
The match was ebbing and flowing now and, whilst Exeter didn’t manage to cross again before the break, they did straight after the restart, as Katie Buchanan raced free and fed Claudia MacDonald, as her side retook the lead.
Saracens stuck to their task though and were back ahead again shortly after, as a flowing backs move allowed Paige Farries to wrestle over out wide.
As with the first half, Saracens were now the side dictating the play, with Donna Rose popping up with some crunching tackles.
Clapp then nearly collected a crossfield kick to cross on her milestone afternoon, but Sarries weren’t to be denied for long, as Jess Breach pounced from 40m, after Exeter spilt the ball in contact, with Sarries feeding the ball to the speedster to race clear.
Exeter were at sixes and sevens now, as Poppy Cleall was denied a score on an afternoon where she put in one of the individual performances of the season. Cleall was everywhere all afternoon in both attack and defence, but this time, she was denied as the referee saw an infringement after she crossed the line.
Heading into the final ten minutes, Sarries needed another score to take the game away from Exeter. On an afternoon where defence had dominated at maul time, Sarries finally made this one count, as Marlie Packer burst over to increase her side’s advantage.
Exeter continued to probe, but they were handed a sucker punch with minutes to go, as Leanne Infante intercepted an Alex Tessier pass to race in from 80m and seal the victory for her side.
Exeter managed to seal a try bonus point in the game’s final act, as Kanako Kobayashi crossed, but it was far too late in the day to deny Sarries a seventh straight bonus-point win, heading into next weekend’s clash with Gloucester-Hartpury.