A glorious afternoon at the Stonex Stadium saw Wasps Women visiting, the last game of the regular season was a cracker! Saracens had been heavily beaten in Exeter the week before. Exeter Chiefs Women scored 54 to Saracens 12. Wasps had played and lost to Gloucester Hartpury Women. Saracens had 15 wins for the season and Wasps 9.
This was the proverbial game of 2 halves, Wasps werte the better team by far in the first half, they scored 3 tries to Saracens one on the first half. The first was from an intercept by Second Row Chris Balogun, it tells us something that Linkedin is where I’ve had to go to find anything out about Balogun, and of course what I can find there are her professional details. When I search for a young, average county cricketer online I can find all sorts of details, including age etc. Not so for this Premier 15’s rugby player. Hopefully that will change and soon.
Balogun’s try was a sight to behold as she soared up the pitch, largely unbothered, the joy on her face is clear to see! Florence Williams converted the try and Wasps had a 7 point lead.
One of Saracens own, Bryony Cleall, now in a Wasps shirt, was next to score, Saracens gave away one of several penalties and on 25 minutes Wasps drove to the line from the resulting line out, Cleall drove over the line to score. This wasn’t looking like the team topping the table, nothing had worked for Saracens. A 14 point lead after a successful conversion.
5 minutes later and the ball went out to Ellie Boatman on the wing, in spite of a valiant effort by Alysha Corrigan she made it over the line in the corner, another great try.
This was a half of dropped balls and penalties conceded for Saracens, but Corrigan pulled a try back just before half-time, soaring down her wing, a much needed score to keep her team in the game.
The teams went in at half-time with the score on Saracens 7 Wasps 21. The 2nd half was a bad tempered affair, I’m not sure I’ve seen confrontation like at at a women’s game. Marlie Packer and Bryony Cleall had a disagreement that saw both sent to the naughty step for 10 minutes.
Wasps had added another try before that point, Amy Wilson Hardy took a great pass from Florence Williams to stretcg Wasps lead to 19. Saracens needed something more on the board, step up Packer, pre card, she combined well with her team mates to get over the line, in common with the Wasps first try scorer it was hard to imagine we were watching a forward score.
It was Wasps turn to give away penalties and Saracens turn to score from the rolling maul, replacement Hooker May Campbell was in possession. The conversion was missed, but Saracens were closing the gap, the score was Saracens 17 Wasps 26 on 57 minutes.
I was very premature with the yellow card scenario, Packer and Cleall left the field on 61 minutes. Holly Aitchison was next on the board for Saracens, this one I don’t have a photo for, the try closed the gap to 2 after the successful conversion. It took something special from someone special to get Saracens over the line. With 2 minutes remaining Alev Kelter who arrived at Saracens this year from America has settled in so well. Her Mum was sitting in front of us and she was giving great support throughout. I’m intrigued to know how this American became a special rugby player.
The try was on 78 minutes, Saracens had controlled the second half and were deserved winners, but Wasps gave them a really good run for their money in the first half. If you haven’t watched Women’s rugby live yet, the semi-final between Saracens and Harlequins on May 22nd at The Stonex Stadium is your opportunity to watch some top class rugby for just £10. These women deserve a good crowd as they fight for a place in the final.
Action photos from the game!