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