REPORT | Lichfield Ladies 29-12 Worcester Valkyries

By Thomas Branston


Worcester Valkyries’ hopes of reaching the Women’s Premiership play-offs came to an end on Saturday as Lichfield Ladies secured a 29-12 bonus-point win at Cooke Fields.
Lichfield flew into a 24-0 lead with scores from Emily Scarratt, Sarah Nicholas and a brace from Carys Hall.

Worcester replied through Samantha Bree but went into the break trailing 24-5 against their local rivals.

Scarratt completed her brace early in the second-half to all but secure victory before Heather Cowell added a consolation score late on for Valkyries.

Lichfield were dangerous from kick-off and broke the deadlock when Scarratt touched down in the corner after receiving the ball from a Worcester lineout and she converted her own try.

The hosts had their second when Hall stretched over the line with Lydia Thompson hanging off of her but Scarratt missed the following kick from a tight angle.

Lichfield soon added a third try with a second for Hall as the pacey winger received the ball out wide after quickly-recycled ball from a scrum.

Nicholas then secured Lichfield’s try-bonus point as she caught the ball from a Valkyries clearance before scoring in the corner and Scarratt added the extras.

However, Worcester hit back late in the half courtesy of Bree who received the ball out wide to score.

Lichfield went in at half-time with a comfortable 24-5 lead and soon added to their score shortly after the break.

Worcester found it hard to deal with Lichfield’s attacking style and were punished shortly after the interval as Scarratt added her second after picking up a loose ball from close range to dive over.

Cowell added a score in the final minutes for Valkyries following a delightful move and Large converted but it wasn’t enough as their hopes of reaching the the play-off semi-finals came to an end.

Valkyries now turn their attentions to the Senior Cup as they face Darlington Mowden Park Sharks at Sixways on Sunday 5 February.

Valkyries | 1 Rochelle Clark, 2 Lark Davies, 3 Laura Keates (Balmer 45), 4 Stacey Hiscox (Haigh 45), 5 Courtney Gill, 6 Lyndsay O’Donnell, 7 Sian Williams, 8 Lisa Campbell (c), 9 Bianca Blackburn, 10 Ceri Large, 11 Sam Bree (Bixley 64), 12 Rachel Lund, 13 Zoe Bennion, 14 Alexia Mavroudis, 15 Lydia Thompson (Cowell 45)

Replacements | 16 Tracy Balmer, 17 Harriet Dunn, 18 Rosie Haigh, 19 Helena Bunce, 20 Sarah Davey, 21 Heather Cowell, 22 Jaz Bixley

02m | Scarratt try 5-0
03m | Scarratt con 7-0
05m | Hall try 12-0
14m | Hall try 17-0
27m | Nicholas try 22-0
28m | Scarratt con 24-0
31m | Bree try 24-5
54m | Scarratt try 29-5
74m | Cowell try 29-10
75m | Large con 29-12


REPORT | Worcester Valkyries 60-19 Wasps Ladies

By Tom Branston


Worcester Valkyries claimed a bonus-point win as they produced a destructive 60-19 display at Sixways to beat Wasps Ladies in the Women’s Premiership on Saturday.
Valkyries led at the break with Rachel Lund scoring an impressive first-half hat-trick followed by scores from Samantha Bree, Bianca Blackburn and Zoe Bennion to set up a 38-0 scoreline at the break.

In an open second period, Wasps scored three tries courtesy of Abigail Dow, Hannah Edwards and Sarah Mitchelson but late scores from Lisa Campbell, Lydia Thompson, Ceri Large and a second score from Bree, sealed an emphatic victory for Worcester.

Valkyries began brightly with an early score from Bree who touched down in the corner and Large added the extras from a tight angle.

Wasps were unable to deal with the bombardment of Valkyries attacks with Lund scoring a second within ten minutes of kick-off.

The full-back found space in the defence to ease her way through under the posts and Large added the following conversion.

In a dominant opening period, Worcester added their third of the game as Blackburn finished off a neat move in the corner after receiving the ball from Alexia Mavroudis who found space out wide.

Dominating possession and territory, Lund added her second of the game after taking the high ball and wriggling through challenges to score.

Wasps began to grow into the game but were pinned back by continuous mistakes which ultimately led to another Worcester try as Bennion crashed over after Worcester shipped the ball wide and Large added the extras.

Lund made it a first-half hat-trick just before the interval with an unstoppable run and Large converted again.

Wasps looked depleted at the break with the scoreline reading 38-0 to Worcester.

However, it took 30 seconds for the visitors to score after the break as Dow received the ball from a quick turnover and made no mistake in touching down in the corner, with Edwards adding the extra points.

Wasps then had a player advantage to help their surge as Lyndsay O’Donnell was the unfortunate recipient of a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, when it appeared to be a fellow Valkyries player.

But it was 14-man Worcester who scored as Campbell dived over after a dominant five-metre scrum.

Wasps did score in O’Donnell’s absence as Edwards scored after some good build-up play and the visitors looked dangerous on the counter with Mitchelson peeling off the back of a driving maul to go over and Edwards added the extras.

However, Valkyries put the nail in the coffin with three tries in the last ten minutes, with Thompson racing clear to add the first following good work from Large and Bree.

Large then scored a sensational try running in from halfway and Bree converted.

And Worcester rounded off a fantastic afternoon when Bree dotted down after receiving a ball out wide from Thompson.

Valkyries travel to Lichfield Ladies next Saturday in a must-win clash if they are to book a play-off spot in the Women’s Premiership (kick-off 5.30pm).

03m | Bree try 5-0
03m | Large con 7-0
07m | Lund try 12-0
07m | Large con 14-0
13m | Blackburn try 19-0
21m | Lund try 24-0
30m | Bennion try 29-0
31m | Large con 31-0
39m | Lund try 36-0
40m | Large con 38-0
41m | Dow try 38-5
41m | Edwards con 38-7
64m | Campbell try 43-7
67m | Edwards try 43-12
70m | Mitchelson try 43-17
71m | Edwards con 43-19
73m | Thompson try 48-19
76m | Large try 53-19
76m | Bree con 55-19
78m | Bree try 60-19

Valkyries | 1 Rochelle Clark, 2 Lark Davies, 3 Laura Keates (Balmer 54), Stacey Hiscox, 5 Courtney Gill, 6 Helena Bunce (Davey 62), 7 Lyndsay O’Donnell, 8 Lisa Campbell (c), 9 Bianca Blackburn (Thompson 62), 10 Megan Goddrd, 11 Sam Bree, 12 Ceri Large, 13 Zoe Bennion (Parker 45), 14 Alexia Mavroudis (Cowell 57), 15 Rachel Lund

Replacements | 16 Paula Robinson, 17 Tracey Balmer, 18 Rosie Haigh, 19 Sarah Davey, 20 Lydia Thompson, 21 Rhi Parker, 22 Heather Cowell

REPORT | Darlington Mowden Park Sharks 24-10 Worcester Valkyries

By Tom Branston


Worcester Valkyries fell to a 24-10 defeat against Darlington Mowden Park Sharks at a foggy Northern Echo Arena on Sunday.The defeat takes a chunk out of Valkyries’ play-off hopes with just three games remaining in the Women’s Premiership.

Lisa Campbell and Lyndsay O’Donnell scored for Worcester but tries from Amy Needham, Brogan Church and Emma Harbage gave the hosts a 17-10 lead at half-time.

Valkyries pushed for another score but were undone by their own mistakes when Jo Brown picked up a loose ball to finish the tie.

Worcester pressed for the first score of the game early on with Campbell crashing over from a well-constructed scrum but Ceri Large couldn’t add the conversion.

Darlington started to dominate possession and territory soon after conceding and an ill-disciplined Valkyries defence gave away several penalties which led to a score.

Sharks formed a driving maul that couldn’t be stopped as Needham went over the whitewash and Katy Mclean missed the extras with a difficult kick as the fog settled over the pitch.

Worcester soon added their second try after a spell of pressure with O’Donnell diving over to score.

The Scottish international reacted quickest at a ruck as she leapt over but Large missed the following conversion.

Sharks gained momentum again with Mclean controlling the game with her long-range kicks, which allowed the hosts to gain territory.

Darlington took control of the game scoring their second try as Church peeled off a maul to crash over untouched.

Mclean missed the extras but Harbage then added a third try after a quickly-taken penalty as the centre ran in to the corner to extend their lead.

Mclean converted this time giving the hosts a seven-point cushion at the half-time interval.

Laura Keates and Rochelle Clark dominated at the breakdowns which secured ball in hand for Valkyries but the latter soon received a yellow card for an illegal tackle that was deemed to be in the air.

Rachel Lund saved Worcester on two occasions as Darlington looked to add a bonus-point try but with a player advantage, Sharks struggled to capitalise and nearly conceded as a confident Worcester forward pack bombarded the tryline.

However, the visitors couldn’t take advantage of their field position.

Back to their full contingent, Worcester searched for a way back into the game but made several handling errors as any hopes of a draw were slipping away.

And when they lost possession five metres from their own tryline, Brown reacted quickest to seal victory for the Sharks, denying Valkyries a losing-bonus point in the process.

Mclean added the conversion with the last action of the game as the hosts came away with a 24-10 victory.

Valkyries will be looking to bounce back when they host Wasps Ladies next Saturday at Sixways (kick-off 2pm).

Timeline |
03m | Campbell try 0-5
10m | Needham try 5-5
15m | O’Donnell try 5-10
21m | Church try 10-10
30m | Harbage try 15-10
30m | Mclean con 17-10
79m | Brown try 22-10
80m | Mclean con 24-10

Valkyries | 15 Rachel Lund, 14 Sam Bree (Parker70), 13 Zoe Bennion (Byrne 70), 12 Megan Goddard, 11 Alexia Mavroudis, 10 Ceri Large, 9 Bianca Blackburn (Richards 40), 8 Lisa Campbell (c), 7 Lyndsay O’Donnell, 6 Helena Bunce (Balmer 51), 5 Courtney Gill, 4 Stacey Hiscox (Donnahey 70), 3 Laura Keates, 2 Lark Davies (Robinson 70), 1 Rochelle Clark (Davey 55)

Replacements | 16 Paula Robinson, 17 Tracey Balmer, 18 Sarah Davey, 19 Rhi Donnahey, 20 Sam Parker, 21 Jo Richards, 22 Charlie Byrne

REPORT | Worcester Valkyries 15-22 Saracens Women

By Tom Branston


Worcester Valkyries put in a dominant performance but were forced to settle for a losing-bonus point as Saracens Women held on for a 22-15 win in the Women’s Premiership at Sixways on Sunday.

First-half scores from Emma Uren and Claire Allan gave the visitors the lead before Lydia Thompson pulled one back for Worcester.

Zoe Harrison converted her own try for a Saracens third but a score from Lyndsay O’Donnell just before half-time kept Valkyries in the game.

Substitute Garnet Mackinder all but ended the affair late on before Rhi Parker’s try at the death secured a bonus point for the hosts.

In a tightly contested opening period, Worcester dominated early possession and territory with Shona Powell-Hughes yet again showing how powerful she is at the breakdown.

Against the run of play, Saracens opened the scoring from a swift lineout move, and slick hands from Emily Scott and Allan saw Uren go over in the corner.

Worcester were on the front foot again after conceding, with Laura Keates, Lark Davies and Rochelle Clark bringing the ball forward.

However, Saracens added a second try when Scott’s delightful grubber kick to the corner was picked up by Allan to score.

Just moments later, Thompson received the ball following a lucky bounce and made no mistakes as she sprinted home to score from halfway for Valkyries.

Worcester continued to knock on the door when attacking but the Saracens defence held out.

The visitors again scored another try against the run of play when Uren claimed a crossfield kick before setting up Harrison, who stepped up to convert her own try.

However, Valkyries heads didn’t drop and they continued their resilient attacking play which was rewarded with a try during overtime in the first period.

O’Donnell crashed over the line after continued phases in the Saracens 22 as the Scottish international grabbed her first try of the season.

In a very tight affair, it was Saracens who took a 17-10 lead into the interval after three breakaway tries giving them the advantage.

In a hugely frustrating second-half, Worcester again dominated possession and territory, pinning Sarries in their own 22 for long periods.

Valkyries were handed a boost when Harrison received a yellow card for not rolling away but despite the player advantage and looking set for the line, Saracens managed to hold them out.

When the visitors got back to their full quota of players, they managed to secure a bonus-point try against the odds as Mackinder raced to the line.

Despite the late score, Valkyries stayed true to the Club’s name as they battled on like warriors and finally got their reward with a try at the death.

Parker reacted quickly from a penalty five metres out to score in the corner as Valkyries picked up a valuable losing-bonus point.

Valkyries’ next match comes in 2017 as they travel to Darlington Mowden Park Sharks on Sunday 8 January in the Women’s Premiership.

17m | Uren try 0-5
23m | Allen try 0-10
26m | Thompson try 5-10
34m | Harrison try 5-15
34m | Harrison con 5-17
40m | O’Donnell try 10-17
73m | Mackinder try 10-22
78m | Parker try 15-22

Valkyries | 15 Sam Bree (Mavroudis 53-58), 14 Lydia Thompson 13 Zoe Bennion, 12 Ceri Large, 11 Rachel Lund, 10 Megan Goddard (Mavroudis 71), 9 Rhi Parker, 8 Shona Powell-Hughes, 7 Lisa Campbell (c), 6 Lyndsay O’Donnell, 5 Courtney Gill, 4 Rosie Haigh, 3 Laura Keates, 2 Lark Davies, 1 Rochelle Clark

Replacements | 16 Steph Clarke, 17 Helena Bunce, 18 Donna Kennedy, 19 Alexia Mavroudis

REPORT | Bristol Ladies Rugby 34-10 Worcester Valkyries

By Tom Branston


Bristol Ladies Rugby saw off Worcester Valkyries 34-10 to claim a bonus-point win in the Women’s Premiership at Cleve Rugby Club on Sunday.

Becki Blecher and Sarah Bern gave Bristol a comfortable lead before Shona Powell-Hughes hit back for Worcester.

El Snowsill added a penalty to give Bristol a ten-point lead going into the break but second-half tries from Poppy Cleall, Meg Jones and Cat McNaney sealed victory for the league leaders before Rachel Lund added a late consolation score for Valkyries.

Bristol scored a try within two minutes with a neat move as the ball was quickly recycled from a scrum and Belcher received it to score in the corner.

The hosts were on the front foot with quick attacking play and pressure told as they added a second try through Bern, with the hard-hitting prop smashing through the defensive line to score and Snowsill added the extras.

Worcester began to grow in confidence and dominated territory and possession in the Bristol 22.

The hosts’ defence held out well until Powell-Hughes received the ball from the ruck and found a gap to give Worcester a way back into the game. Ceri Large narrowly missed the conversion.

From the restart Bristol dominated possession and were awarded a penalty with the visitors penalised for not rolling away.

Snowsill added three points to the score as the hosts went in at half-time with a 15-5 lead.

Bristol started the second-half as they did in the first with high intensity and on the front foot.

A quickly-recycled ball fell to Lottie Holland and the centre looked set to score but Lydia Thompson made a last-ditch challenge to deny her.

However, moments later Bristol extended their lead through Cleall as the number eight found a way through three defenders to score and Snowsill added the conversion.

Rochelle Clark and Tracy Balmer looked to charge forward but mistakes were the Valkyries’ downfall with knock-ons and penalties conceded leading to Bristol adding their fourth try of the game.

Jones capitalised on a quick penalty and ran in from close range with Snowsill adding another conversion.

A lapse in concentration then saw Worcester concede a fifth just moments later when McNaney received the ball out wide from the restart and she ran in to score.

With a convincing scoreline, Bristol took their foot off the gas in the final quarter as Worcester dominated possession.

Lisa Campbell and Dyddgu Hywel caused problems for the defensive line showing their strength crashing through several challenges and late on Bristol’s Sarah Graham received a yellow card for consistent infringements at the breakdown.

And Valkyries capitalised after a prolonged period in the Bristol 22 as Lund shoved her way through a challenge to score a consolation try for Donna Kennedy’s side.

Valkyries face play-off rivals Saracens Women in the league at Sixways on Sunday 11 December (kick-off 2pm).

02m | Belcher try 5-0
11m | Bern try 10-0
12m | Snowsill con 12-0
29m | Powell-Hughes try 12-5
32m | Snowsill pen 15-5
48m | Cleall try 20-5
48m | Snowsill con 22-5
59m | Jones try 27-5
60m | Snowsill con 29-5
61m | McNaney try 34-5
78m | Lund try 34-10

Valkyries | 15 Dyddgu Hywel, 14 Alexia Mavroudis (Thompson 40), 13 Lisa Campbell, 12 Rachel Lund, 11 Sam Bree (c) (S Parker 72), 10 Ceri Large, 9 Megan Goddard, 8 Shona Powell-Hughes, 7 Helena Bunce (Snead 57), 6 Lyndsay O’Donnell, 5 Courtney Gill, 4 Rosie Haigh (Byrne 57), 3 Tracy Balmer, 2 Lark Davies (Robinson 57), 1 Rochelle Clark (Dunn 72)

Replacements | 16 Paula Robinson, 17 Harriet Dunn, 19 Chelsey Snead, 20 Lydia Thompson, 21 Sam Parker, 22 Charlie Byrne

REPORT | Worcester Valkyries 50-29 Richmond Women

By Tom Branston


Worcester Valkyries produced an impressive performance to secure an eight-try, bonus-point victory over Richmond Women in the Women’s Premiership at Sixways on Saturday.

First-half tries from Shona Powell-Hughes, Ceri Large, Alexia Mavroudis and a brace from Bianca Blackburn gave Valkyries a healthy 31-10 lead at the break.

A brace of tries from Samantha Bree and a second try for Large after the interval were enough to secure the win, and despite three late scores for Richmond, Valkyries celebrated a 50-29 triumph.

Valkyries scored within two minutes of the game kicking off, as Large and Sian Williams combined to set Blackburn through to score under the posts and Large added the extras.

Richmond had a chance to pull back the score with a penalty but Abi Chamberlain missed the target.

Good pressure from a Worcester lineout then led to quickly recycled ball and Large went over in the corner.

Richmond found it hard to deal with Valkyries’ attacking style and saw themselves concede a third when Josie Symonds produced a break away and Powell-Hughes benefited from quick ball to crash over the whitewash.

However, Richmond responded well and scored their first try through Sian Hobday from a smoothly-executed lineout and driving maul.

Dutch winger Mavroudis then broke away for Valkyries and popped the ball up to Blackburn for her second of the game and Large converted.

It didn’t take long for a fifth Valkyries try as Harriet Dunn’s break led to Mavroudis pacing her way through a gap to score under the posts and Large converted again.

Richmond were quick out the blocks from the restart and had Valkyries pinned back under pressure.

Worcester folded under that pressure as Richmond added a second of the game through Becky Ball as the centre crashed her way over.

Worcester were in danger of conceding another just before the break but good defensive work from the forwards turned the ball over.

With a 31-10 lead at the interval, Valkyries extended their advantage after the break when Bree brilliantly ran through six defenders to score and Large kicked another two points from the tee.

Just seconds later, Bree added her second try of the game thanks to a Powell-Hughes break from halfway before sending the full-back to the line.

Worcester looked comfortable in possession and dominated territory with Large soon adding her second of the game as she scored following sustained pressure at the breakdown before converting her try.

Valkyries’ Sarah Davey was then shown a yellow card for repetitive offences and Richmond took full advantage when Kiri Lose broke from a ruck on the 22 and scored in the corner with Chamberlain adding the conversion.

Richmond piled on the pressure in the last quarter of the game and were rewarded for their efforts with another try from Claire Phelps who picked the ball up off the back of a driving maul to dive over and reduce the deficit.

They added a third try late on courtesy of Emily Scott, when the powerful prop ran straight through after a quick-tap penalty on the 22 to secure a try bonus point.

Chamberlain chipped over another two points but despite the late onslaught, Valkyries recorded an emphatic win.

The result means Valkyries have picked up maximum points off the 2015/16 Women’s Premiership champions after September’s 31-15 bonus-point, away win.

Valkyries travel to league leaders Bristol Ladies Rugby on Sunday 4 December (kick-off 2pm), who lost for the first time in the league at the weekend to Aylesford Bulls Ladies, in a 51-5 hammering.

02m | Blackburn try 5-0
03m | Large con 7-0
14m | Large try 12-0
17m | Powell-Hughes try 17-0
21m | Hobday try 17-5
24m | Blackburn try 22-5
25m | Large con 24-5
31m | Mavroudis try 29-5
31m | Large con 31-5
34m | Ball try 31-10
47m | Bree try 36-10
47m | Large con 38-10
49m | Bree try 43-10
55m | Large try 48-10
55m | Large con 50-10
62m | Lose try 50-15
62m | Chamberlain con 50-17
69m | Phelps try 50-22
77m | Scott try 50-27
77m | Chamberlain con 50-29

Valkyries | 15 Josie Symonds, 14 Alexia Mavroudis, 13 Ceri Large, 12 Sam Bree (Donnahey 60), 11 Jo Richards, 10 Megan Goddard (Byrne 51), 9 Bianca Blackburn (R Parker 40), 8 Shona Powell-Hughes, 7 Sian Williams (Davey 40), 6 Helena Bunce (Snead 60), 5 Rosie Haigh, 4 Stacey Hiscox, 3 Lizzy Binks (Clarke 47-63), 2 Lark Davies (Robinson 60), 1 Harriet Dunn

Replacements | 16 Paula Robinson, 17 Steph Clarke, 18 Chelsey Snead, 19 Sarah Davey, 20 Rhiannon Donnahey, 21 Charlotte Byrne, 22 Rhi Parker

REPORT | Saracens Women 22-8 Worcester Valkyries

By Tom Branston


Worcester Valkyries produced a hard-fought display but fell to a 22-8 defeat against Saracens in the Women’s Senior Cup at Allianz Park on Sunday.

First-half tries from Emma Uren, Garnet Mackinder and a converted Zoe Harrison score gave the hosts a convincing 17-0 lead at the break.

Harriet Dunn crossed the whitewash for Worcester but a late try from Nina Vistisen destroyed any hope of Valkyries overturning the score.

Saracens began the game the stronger side with early possession and territory in the Valkyries half and they opened the scoring in the 26th minute as the ball was recycled into the path of Uren who scored in the corner.

Three minutes later Sarries added a second when Mackinder flew past the Valkyries defence and the hosts then had their third as fly-half Harrison dummied a pass and found a gap to score before converting.

The Valkyries defence held out for the remainder of the half as Saracens went in at the break with a 17-0 lead.

Worcester burst into life in the second-half producing more attacking play which was soon rewarded with Dunn crashing over the whitewash for the first time in a Valkyries jersey.

The powerful prop profited from a quickly recycled ball and the Worcester pressure took its toll.

Valkyries looked close to scoring another when Large received the ball just metres out but the fly-half was tackled into touch.

Lark Davies was a battering ram throughout the game and produced several holes in the Saracens defence, while Dunn and Rosie Haigh were also causing problems.

However, Valkyries were caught out against the run of play when Vistisen produced an excellent solo try from inside her own half.

Depleted by the score, Worcester looked to get straight back at Saracens with Stacey Hiscox and Steph Clarke bringing the ball forward before Megan Goddard chipped over a penalty in the last play of the game.

Valkyries return to Women’s Premiership action this Saturday 26 November at Sixways (kick-off 2pm).

26m | Uren try 5-0
29m | Mackinder try 10-0
33m | Harrison try 15-0
34m | Harrison con 17-0
46m | Dunn try 17-5
67m | Vistisen try 22-5
80m | Goddard pen 22-8

Valkyries | 15 Sam Bree (C), 14 Megan Sampson, 13 Charlie Byrne, 12 Ceri Large, 11 Sam Parker, 10 Megan Goddard, 9 Bianca Blackburn, 8 Courtney Gill, 7 Sarah Davey, 6 Rosie Haigh, 5 Chelsey Snead, 4 Stacey Hiscox, 3 Steph Clarke, 2 Lark Davies, 1 Harriet Dunn

Replacements | 16 Paula Robinson, 17 Katie Phillips, 18 Rhi Donnahey, 19 Jo Richards, 20 Josie Symonds, 21 Lyndsay O’Donnell