What a delight to be back at the StoneX Stadium for the second time in a week, this time was in the company of good friends to watch the Semi-Final of the Aliianz Premier 15’s. Saracens were facing Loughborough Lightning and Harlequins were playing Wasps at the Stoop. Both home teams had been 1st and 2nd when the league was suspended in 2020.

The top of the table looked like this:-

Played Won Lost Drawn Pts Diff Points
Saracens Women 18152139679
Harlequins Women18143145073
Wasps Ladies18144038071
Loughborough Lightening18126019160
The Top of the Table

The Draw for the top two involved the natch between them, the in-season results between the semi-finalists were:-

  • Loughborough Lightning 29 Saracens 39
  • Saracens 29 Loughborough Lightning 24
  • Harlequins 20 Wasps 19
  • Wasps 12 Harlequins 31

Harlequins were winners at the Stoop, with the final score being Harlequins 25 Wasps 14, the match at the StoneX was a tight one!

A crowd of 1400 was there to see a game that went down to the wire, hopefully any first timers will have seen the quality of the play and return. I’d like to put a request into those who arrange fixtures that the 2 bodies involved liaise and ensure the men’s and women’s games don’t clash next season, both teams deserve a crowd.

Loughborough opened the scoring up, having won a penalty, Helena Rowland, the 21 year old England Fly Half (6 Caps) kicked for the corner. Another England international, Lark Davies (31 caps) went over as part of the Driving Maul. Emily Scarratt (95 England caps) added the extras.

Kicking is one of the elements of the game that’s unrecognisable from say, 5 years ago, in fact I have to confess that pre this competition set up I walked away from a match between Saracens and Worcester at Half-Time, the rugby was too hard to watch. The skill and standard has changed incredibly.

5 minutes later in this end to end game Saracens scored in a similar fashion with the Player of the 6 Nations tournament Poppy Cleall (47 England Caps) getting the ball down. Zoe Harrison (30 England Caps) Converted the try to even things up.

I was at the match with my good friends Alun and Sharon and just as Alun said that in spite of several errors from Saracens Loughborough were’t breaking through, a neat, no look pass from Scarratt, in the mid field saw Rhona Lloyd (28 Scottish Caps) speed up the pitch to score a cracking try! The conversion was good and Loughborough were 7 ahead again. The score was Saracens 7 Loughborough 14 after 17 minutes.

Play shifted into the Loughborough half just 6 minutes later and with Poppy Cleall off for blood her twin Bryony(5 England Caps) going o over the line from 5 meteres out. Bryony lost 5 years of her playing career with 4 knee operations. Off the field she’s Director of Rugby at The Harris CIty Academy in Crystal Palace, where she’s created the first Girl’s State School Academy, in tandem with Saracens. Harrison added the extras.

A try for Bryony Cleall

The next try went to Bryony Cleall as she powered over after taking a tap penalty, there was going to be no stopping her from 5 metres out again, this tome she scored under the posts and put Saracens ahead for the first time in the game. Harrison slotted the ball over the posts and the score after 28 minutes was Saracens 21 Loughborough 14.

Poppy Cleall re-emerged having had a long spell of treatment

The scoring wasn’t over in the first half, Loughborough again benefited from a penalty to drive over the line after their lineout. Lark Davies touching down. The conversion went wide, leaving Saracens 2 points to the good at Half-Time. The half had finished with a lovely cross field kick from hand from Poppy Cleall, which just missed it’s intended mark, bouncing into touch

Saracens extended their lead 10 minutes into the second half, Poppy matching Bryony with her second try, a loose ball came her way and she pounced to score. Marlie Packer (76 England Caps) had made the break to put Saracens in the danger area. The conversion was good from Harrison and the score at 46 minutes was Saracens 28 Loughborough 19.

Loughborough piled the pressure on but Saracens defence held up well, Vicky Fleetwood (79 England Caps) saw yellow with 66 minutes on the clock and they weren’t able to hold Loughborough out and Bryony Field touched down to close the gap to just 4.

The conversion was missed and a Sarcens turnover saw the match finish with the score on Saracens Women 28 Loughborough Lightning 24. A close run thing, Saracens will play Harlequins in the final in Gloucester on Sunday 30th May.

The men were playing Coventry at 5pm and we certainly rushed home to watch as much of the game as we could, counting down the points difference to Ealing who finished their season with 9 wins from their 10 matches and a point difference of 344. This, the 9th match for Saracens was a 73 nil win, which put them adrift points difference wise by a single point. They trail Ealing by 5 points with one game to play.

The play off games to see who wins the massive prize of Premiership Rugby for the 21-22 season will be contested by Ealing and Saracens on June 12th and June 19th. The team finishing top will decide who plays where in each leg.

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