The Spring weather turned up again at Stonex Stadium for the Women’s Premier 15’s match between Saracens and Exeter Chiefs. The men had won their first game back at the stadium in the new Premiership season. the Women were playing their 5th game and the second at home – their results so far –
- Wasps FC Ladies 20 – Saracens Women 26
- DMP Durham Sharks 5 – Saracens Women 75
- Saracens Women 38 – Loughborough Lightning 7
- Worcester Warriors Women 5 – Saracens Women 34
A very decent start for them, the 70 point gap in their game with DMP Sharks tells the story of a huge gap between the top and bottom teams in the league, after the 5 games to this week they have a points difference of -359, with those 5 points being the only ones they’ve scored. That. is not good for the game at all.
The move towards a league that looks like a mirror of the Premiership Rugby league saw Exeter Chiefs enter the fray last season, they won 10 of their 18 games and beat Saracens at their place. The team was formed in 2019 and they joined with Sale Sharks, that was controversial as it happened at the cost of 2 traditional women’s teams Waterloo Ladies and Richmond Women. I’ve written about the exclusion of traditional women’s clubs before, initially when this new league was first formed. If the powers that be wanted a league aligned with the Premiership Clubs they really should have admitted that in the first place.
On to the match played today, it was a very special game for Sonia Green, she was making her 300th appearance! That’s incredible considering the fact that she has a day job, and a very high profile one at that – here’s her profile from the Saracens High School where she’s Vice Principal.
Impressive both on and off the field, Students from the High School were at the game in force as were students from Winger Lottie Clapp’s school. There was a time when a handful of fans turned up to watch the women play, I’m very glad to say that’s very much changed and the teams now play in front of a decent, vocal crowd.
Exeter started off the scoring with their lively scrum half Brooke Bradley grabbing the ball from the ruck to go over the line, Gabby Cantorna slotted the conversion over to add the extras.
Saracens won a penalty straight from the restart and Zoe Harrison kicked into the Exeter 22; Exeter struggled with the Saracens rolling maul all through the match as it rumbled along unencumbered. The ball made its way out to Chantelle Miell who scored Saracens first try, Harrison who had a great afternoon kicking from the Tee added the extras.
It seemed strange seeing only one Cleall on the pitch, Bryony left for Wasps in the off season, her sister Poppy is always a dominant character making a big impact and today was no different. Another penalty put Saracens deep into Exeter territory and Poppy picked the ball up close to the line after it’s been rolled onwards again, that try put Saracens ahead and they would stay there.
Another of the forwards had a big impact on the day, Hannah Botterman scored out wide after Cleall made a run down the left wing, the ball was worked across to Botterman on the right who went over to the delight of the crowd and her team mates.
The second half started with a typical Poppy Cleall try, she used her strength to go over from close to the line – a very hard player to stop from that sort of position.
That put the score on Saracens 29 Exeter 7 – after Saracens had converted a couple of penalties; the home team had certainly taken control of the game. However the Exeter substitutes changed the momentum of the game for a while, they played with pace and scored through Ebony Jeffries, the conversion was wide. Exeter were denied by a strong defence and Saracens won another penalty, duly converted by Harrison.
Exeter had the last word with a try for Flo Robinson – but the final score was Saracens 32 Exeter 19 – a 5th win for Saracens they sit second in the table with 25 points, with Bristol Bears top with a slightly better points difference.
Action photos from the game – it was good to see Juan Figallo on the pitch, he’s stayed with the club as Academy and Women’s Forwards Coach.