MATCH REPORT | Saracens Women 48-7 Loughborough Lightning (PWR Rd - 1)
Saracens Women started their Allianz PWR campaign with a bang, as they put in an outstanding performance on home soil against Loughborough Lightning.
The hosts had the advantage from the first whistle with the first penalty of the clash. However, that glimmer of hope was lost due as the ball was spilt forward. Nevertheless, the home side reclaimed the ball and with a quick inside pass from Leanne Infante to Sophie De Goede, it was try time for the returning Canadian!
From there though, discipline proved to be Saracens’ downfall, as first Lotte Clapp and then Coreen Grant both saw yellow.
Both teams oozed excitement and hunger throughout, with Saracens Women holding strong in defence.
Eventually though, the pressure told as opposing captain Rachel Malcolm burst over the line. Helen Nelson delivered with her kick to edge the visitors ahead.
The hosts soon showed what they were about, even with a player down, as a strong carry from Kelsey Clifford pushed the pack forward towards the whitewash. An offload from back-row Poppy Cleall then gave Sophie De Goede her second try of the match, with the try-scorer converting to edge her side back ahead.
As the game pushed on, Saracens Women showed they had so much more to give, as they begin to show their grit in defence.
After a kick through from May Campbell had put pressure on the visitors, scrum-half Leanne Infante saw the chance to make the break and with speedy feet she sprinted for the line, adding another five points for the home side.
As the second half got underway, you could hardly take your eyes off the field as the match turned into an electric encounter. Loughborough started the faster, but Saracens Women continued to hold firm,
The first ten minutes of the half was a real battle in the midfield, before a penalty gave Saracens a perfect opportunity to extend their lead.
Marlie Packer’s appearance on the field didn’t go unnoticed either, as off the driving maul, she caused carnage, leaving the referee with little choice but to award a penalty try.
Zoe Harrison then marked her return from injury with a superb conversion, as Saracens extended their lead, with Lightning reduced to 14 players.
As the game continued, so did the tries. After being awarded a penalty in the opposition’s 22, Sarries thought fast and with a quick tap and go, it was number 8 Poppy Cleall who drove over the line to extend the advantage.
Sarries continued to press and probe but the Lightning defence held firm. It was going to take something special to continue to build the score and Sarries found it off of a stunning first-phase play. With Packer and Cleall combining in midfield, Packer then fed the ball wide to Jess Breach to coast in out wide.
The Sarries set-piece was starting to dominate now, as they routinely put Lightning under pressure. With the maul continuing to dominate, Packer eventually had her try, as she crashed over from the back of the maul to take her side past the 40-point mark.
There was still time for one final score too. With the clock ticking, it was centre Sydney Gregson who raced away for her side’s eighth of the afternoon, as Saracens caught Loughborough napping on the blindside.
Harrison’s conversion hit the post, but Saracens will not be too disheartened, following a confident opening day victory.
Seasons aren’t won on the opening day, but this was a big statement from Alex Austerberry’s side.