Sunday brought Harlequins to The Stones Stadium for the semi-final of the Premier 15’s competition. The teams contested last years’s final with Harlequins running out winners by 8 points. Both teams had won the away fixture in the regular season games with the score in December being Saracens 16 Harlequins 36 whereas in February it was Harlequins 8 Saracens 22. So, a lot to play for in addition to a place in the final. The crowd was over 2000, which was a good crowd in many ways, yet also rather disappointing. There were international players galore amongst both teams, both teams play high quality rugby and deserve better numbers.

It was a glorious day, one that was hot to sit in let alone play a fast paced game of rugby and it was most certainly that.

Poppy Cleall was back for Saracens, and that, is always a huge boost, she’s an exceptional rugby player and competitor in a team that was more than determined to get to that final. It was Quins who threatened early on but the Saracens defence was up to what was thrown at them. Quins decision making wasn’t great at times, they had probably one of the quickest back lines in the competition with Ellie Kildunne, Heather Cowell and the brilliant Jess Breach, they barely got their hands on the ball, which was a shame for the gathered crowd, Breach in particular is a sight to behold in full flight.

It was Cleall who got her name on the scoreboard first, a Saracens maul edged close to the Quins line, holding the ball in patiently until Cleall was able to touch down. Alev Kelter, who is as much of a find for this team as Theo McFarland is for the men’s team, missed this conversion, which is very unusual. And her Mum? Well, her support is just ace! She’s the epitome of how crowd support should be, loud, supportive and respectful all round!

A break by Alysha Corrigan was well halted but the ball remained with Saracens and none other than Marlie Packer powered over the line for Sarecens 2nd try. Another top class rugby player, her presence on the pitch is undoubtedly a driving factor for this team. This conversion was a success and Saracens had a lead of 12. Kelter added a penalty in the 27th minute.

Unfortunately Kelter fell foul of the referee, taking a card for the team after too many infringements close to the line. Quins made the most of the space and Jess Breach scored a minute later. We saw the speed of that back line as Breach and Kildunne combined, but the final pass from Breach was forward.

I’d noted the time by the stadium clock when Kelter was sent to the naughty step, it said 8m 50 secs remained, I can only presume that wasn’t accurate as she returned before half time. other than have that gas closed with their second try Poppy Cleall scored her 2nd try. The teams went in with the sciors on Saracens 22 Harlequins 5.

Saracens started where they finished off with another maul heading towards the line, this time it was Hooker May Campbell with ball in hand. The conversion went wide, but Kelter kicked a penalty successfully to stretch the lead. Campbell had been shown a yellow card, meaning Saracens played 20 minutes of this game with 14 on the pitch.

Quins did score a late try after a determined attack, Amy Cockayne scored, but it was too little too late and Saracens had their place in the final. The final score was Saracens 30 Harlequins 10.

Saracens will face Exeter in the final at the Sixways Stadium on June 3rd, hopefully in front of a big crowd!

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