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).
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