Match report: Exeter Chiefs Women 7 - 57 Saracens Women


Caroline Moore at Sandy Park

Exeter Chiefs Women saw their successful home streak come to an end against Saracens this afternoon as the visitors ran in nine tries to take a comprehensive Allianz PWR win.

Chiefs are still in the semi-final play-offs however, with one more game to play to prepare themselves for the season’s finale and to regroup to fix all the areas where they came off second best today.

Even with multiple players missing on Pacific Four Series duty, head coach Susie Appleby was not making nay excuses: "Saracens were missing players too, but we came off second best in the collisions, our handling was really poor, and in defence we stood off tackles and you cannot do that against a really decent outfit.

“Saracens were really good. They were really on it, very clinical, them put themselves in the right areas of the field and they converted. That’s what rugby is; it’s a simple game."

Appleby added: “We have just had a re-group and said that in two weeks;’ time, we play Leicester here and that’s a really important game. In three weeks’ time, we are in the play-offs and we need to be who we are can be.”

It was a dismal first half for Exeter Chiefs, which was in complete contrast to the sunny outlook of the weather. Six tries down after the first 40 minutes was tough to watch…unless you were a Saracens supporter.

The first of their six came after just 90 seconds when centre Sydney Gregson sped over the line off the back of a lineout and drive.

Their second was all about the forwards with No 8 Poppy Cleall peeling off the back of a scrum followed by flanker and captain Marlie Packer. The forwards carried on the momentum to propel Donna Rose over for the try.

Chiefs then had three attempts to score as they finally found themselves in Sarries’ half. Winger Kate Buchanan was just inches away, and Chiefs were held up twice more in the next minute but, ultimately, came away empty handed.

Meanwhile, any scrum or lineout in Chiefs’ 22 was a golden opportunity for the visitors. A lineout for Saracens resulted in a successful drive to give the backs some extra territory. The ball went from nine to 14 for winger Coreen Grant to score.

Saracens’ fourth try was care of a sweet interception from full-back Sarah McKenna.

England winger Jess Breach thought she was in minutes later but her ‘score’ was disallowed following a forward pass, but Saracens did not need to wait long for their next try following another successful lineout and drive to release Gregson for her second.

The last try of the half went to scrum-half Ella Wyrwas after a quick-tap penalty was taken by the ever-menacing Cleall. Sadly, the half ended with yellow card for Lizzie Hanlon too so little to be cheery about during the break.

Chiefs started the second half a little brighter and potentially assisted by the wind. When centre Kananko Kobayashi kicked the ball ahead to be chased down by scrum-half Brooke Bradley, it looked like we were going to finally score. Five-metres out from the try-line and there was a bit of fisticuffs, but referee moved the game on and awarded Chiefs the penalty. Two penalties later and Saracens flanker Georgia Evans was sent to the bin but still Chiefs could not score.

Cli Moloney was next in the sin-bin for tackling a player off the ball so the player advantage was brief.

Having held back the scoring tide for nearly 20 minutes, a kick up field from Wilkins was run back by McKenna and passed to Wyrwas gave her a second try.

And then it happened…we finally got a try! Taz Bricknell took a quick-tap penalty and passed the ball to Wilkins who kicked cross-field to Buchanan who scooted over the line.

But the fun stopped there. Evans was a thorn in Chiefs’ side in the second half, making breaks down through the middle to deliver ball to her team-mates. McKenna was the grateful recipient of such a break and pass.

To add insult to injury, Chiefs were pushed off their own scrum in the final minute. When the penalty was kicked to touch, the lineout and drive saw Bryony Field over for Saracens ninth try.

Exeter Chiefs Women: M Doidge (vc); E Sinclair, K Kobayashi (N Brennan 72), S Langford (D Preece 72), K Buchanan; R Wilkins, B Bradley; D Swann (A Middlebrooke 66) C Moloney (C Nielson 55), L Hanlon (H Sams 73), L van der Velden (N Orchard 61), P Leith (c), E Jefferies (H Sams 45-51) (E McMahon 51), M Allen (Bricknell 51), M Feaunati (C Neilson 55)

Try: Buchanan

Con: Wilkins

Yellow cards: Hanlon, Moloney

Saracens Women: S McKenna (S Bridger 31-40); C Grant, S Gregson, B Blacklock (S Bridger 67), J Breach (A MacDougall 71); Z Harrison, E Wyrwas (L Infante 62); A Gondwe (C Tremelling 51-61, 69), M Campbell (B Field 65), D Rose (K Clifford 65), F McIntosh (L McMillan 60), E Taylor, G Evans, M Packer (c), P Cleall (G Moore 65)

Tries: Gregson (2), Rose, Grant, McKenna (2), Wyrwas (2), Field

Cons: Harrison (6)

Yellow card: Evans

Referee: Alex Thomas

Attendance: 2,092

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