MATCH REPORT | Saracens Women 7-53 Gloucester-Hartpury
Sometimes it just isn’t your day. Credit to Gloucester-Hartpury, this was a clinical performance at StoneX Stadium, as the continued their unbeaten charge this season.
Saracens were dealt a blow pre-match, with the news that Sarah McKenna had been forced to withdraw, forcing something of a reshuffle in the matchday side.
There was a buzz inside the stadium before kick-off, after a World Cup Celebration festival for local girls rugby sides, but any Christmas optimism was quickly washed away by the visitors, as Kelsey Jones powered over after just two minutes from a rolling maul.
For Saracens, it wasn’t quite clicking on the field, with handling letting them down against a stern defence from the visitors.
With pressure mounting, Ella Wyrwas was forced to track back and stop the onrushing Gloucester-Hartpury attackers from dotting down, as Saracens looked to rally in front of the home faithful.
Grace Moore was at her typical rumbustious best as she looked to haul her side back into the match, with a physical turnover in the middle of the field, however the positive momentum didn’t last for long, as Mo Hunt latched onto an inside pass to charge over under the posts.
The visitors were rampant now, as they hunted a third try, which they found through Lisa Neumann on the right-hand wing, as she scampered away from the Saracens defence.
To their credit, Saracens popped up with some timely interventions from the likes of May Campbell, before Holly Aitchison and Lotte Clapp put the pressure on the visitors deep inside their own territory.
Much to the frustrations of those in the stands, a penalty at the breakdown stopped the Saracens charge, before a dropped ball at the lineout ended any opportunity of an opening score.
Gloucester-Hartpury needed no second invitation to pounce, as Sophie Bridger carved through in midfield for a fine individual score, with Bethan Lewis added a fifth before half-time to leave Saracens with a mountain to climb.
Any hopes that there would be a momentum swing in the second half were quickly extinguished with a penalty try from the visitors early on.
They would then score a second try in as many minutes, with Ellie Rugman finish off an impressive team move to leave the StoneX faithful stunned.
The icy cold conditions were continuing to take hold, with a stoppage for a serious injury for Gwen Crabb forcing both sides to keep themselves warm, as the stricken second row was helped from the field.
That stoppage didn’t seem to halt the visitors’ charge though, as Sisilia Tuipulotu crashed over, before Rugman grabbed another from a finely placed cross field kick.
Staring down the barrel, Saracens needed a moment to spark themselves into life, which they found with a crucial charge down from Cara Wardle.
Saracens continued to turn the screw as they hunted a much-needed score, with visiting backrow Neve Jones seeing yellow for an infringement at the breakdown.
Eventually, the pressure told, as the ball was worked out for Sharifa Kasolo to power over for her first try in the Premier15s.
Saracens continued to press and probe as they hunted a second score, but the visiting defence eventually held out, to seal an impressive victory.
This result, whilst disappointing is one that this young Saracens squad will learn a lot from, as they look to take a step forward next weekend against Sale Sharks.