MATCH REPORT | Saracens Women 39-28 Worcester Warriors Women
Saracens and Worcester played out a thriller at StoneX Stadium but the league-leaders finally pulled clear in the last five minutes to claim a 39-28 victory.
For the second week running Alex Austerberry’s side were embroiled in the tensest of arm wrestles but had Marlie Packer to thank as two second-half tries from the skipper proved decisive.
After a quiet opening a succession of penalties allowed Worcester to work their way downfield. A lineout drive from five metres out seemed to be going nowhere but scrum-half Ffion Lewis peeled wide and passed to Lydia Thompson who added the simplest of finishes in the corner.
Sarries went behind last week only to respond quickly and repeated the feat again here. Warriors failed to execute their exit plan as a box-kick flew straight into touch and opened the door for the home side.
From the lineout Zoe Harrison unleashed Alev Kelter who took three defenders with her as she forged her way to the Warriors 22.
Sarries had found their stride and the quick ball available to Ella Wyrwas proved crucial to a close range finish from Hannah Botterman. Harrison added the extras after a trademark score from the prop to give Sarries the lead.
Warriors were again sloppy with the boot as the restart kick passed the Sarries dead ball and offered the hosts another attacking opportunity. That they took with glee as provider-turned-scorer Wyrwas turfed from the back of a Sarries scrum to score under the posts.
It was cruel on Warriors who after a bright start found themselves 14-5 down in next to no time. They did strike back with an Ellen Murphy penalty to cut the deficit to 14-8 but the respite was short lived.
An innocuous collision on half way then paved the way for Sarries to extend their lead as a penalty decision that could have gone either way was awarded to the hosts. It allowed Harrison to clear downfield just as the visitors were working their way back into the game.
Worcester managed to steal the lineout but just as they thought they were off the hook Packer towered over the ball at the breakdown and won another huge penalty.
May Campbell got the throw right and was then on hand to flop over the line after the pack had forced the Warriors back to their own line.
A few minutes later it was backs turn to flex their muscles. Kelter scored in the corner for her first in Saracens colours after a clever offload from Lotte Clapp.
Warriors did register another three before half-time and had played well despite trailing 26-11.
The away side started the second period just as strongly as they had the first and struck first again through Carys Phillips. The hooker subtly broke away from a lineout drive to finish under the sticks.
The sides then traded unconverted scores as Sarries lead remained just eight points. Packer powered over from the back of the scrum before Vicky Laflin scored in the corner after a quick tap and go.
Just before the Worcester’s third score Kelter was carded for an off the ball hit as Sarries failed to take a firm hold of proceedings.
That grip loosened further soon afterwards when fly-half Murphy kicked wide to Laflin and the winger dashed to the line to set up an intriguing last twenty minutes.
With the game in the balance Saracens had a chance to pull further ahead but Harrison’s penalty kick struck the upright, as a half of frustration turned into one of consternation.
Then with just five minutes left on the clock Sarries finally got the score to secure victory. Unsurprisingly Packer was the one to clinch it with another up front finish.
The relief on the pitch and in the stands was evident as hugs were exchanged and cheeks were puffed as the points were wrapped up.
Harrison added another three points in the dying seconds to take the final score to 39-28 and bring an end to a classic encounter at the StoneX.
It’s set to be another thriller next weekend as the Women in Black visit old foes Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop for a crucial table of the clash.
Written by Ben Hart.