By Tom Branston
Worcester Valkyries sealed an impressive 31-15 victory over last season’s champions Richmond Women at the Athletic Ground on Sunday.
It was the Valkyries’ first win of the new Women’s Premiership campaign as they ran in five tries to pick up a bonus-point.
Valkyries began the game on the front foot with early pressure in the Richmond 22 and were able to convert their possession and territory into points with an early try.
Winger Alexia Mavroudis received the ball out wide and used her pace to race over the whitewash.
It wasn’t long until the Valkyries got their second of the game, this time courtesy of lock Courtney Gill.
More brilliant pressure from Worcester led to a lineout after Rochelle Clark sped down the wing.
Stacey Hiscox won the resulting throw in and the driving maul forced its way over with Gill dotting down and Megan Goddard successfully converted.
The Valkyries were dominating but allowed Richmond back into the game in the latter stages of the first-half as the hosts were awarded a penalty try after Worcester gave away successive penalties just metres from the line.
Ceri Large was an influential figure again throughout the game, breaking the line of play and finding gaps in the Richmond defence on several occasions.
With the first-half drawing to a close, the Valkyries could have conceded another try if it were not for a solid defensive effort preventing Richmond a second score.
Valkyries led 12-5 at the break but notched their third try after the interval when Large darted in under the posts and Goddard was able to add another two.
Lisa Campbell enjoyed a great game in defence with some big hits that proved vital for the Valkyries during the second-half where Richmond came at them.
Pressure eventually told when Richmond scored a controversial try that looked to have been knocked on over the line as Rowena Burnfield touched down.
However the referee deemed it a try and Richmond remained in the game.
But Rachel Lund soon put an end to Richmond’s hopes of a comeback when the Valkyries won a scrum on the 22 and the winger darted past everyone untouched to score in the corner – and securing her side a try bonus-point in the process.
Richmond added another score from a driving maul when Sam McCarthy managed to ground the ball under the bodies but the Valkyries would have the final say when Large broke a tackle, offloading to Steph Clarke who ran in under the posts from the 22. Goddard added the extras to finish proceedings.
In their next encounter, Valkyries host Bristol Rugby Ladies at Sixways following Warriors’ clash with Sale Sharks on the main pitch this Saturday 24 September (kick-off 5pm).
Worcester Valkyries | 15 Rachel Lund, 14 Alexia Mavroudis (Parker 73), 13 Zoe Bennion, 12 Ceri Large, 11 Jaz Bixley (Symonds 50), 10 Megan Goddard, 9 Bianca Blackburn, 8 Lisa Campbell (C) (Haigh 71), 7 Lyndsay O’Donnell, 6 Rhiannon Donnahey (Bunce 50), 5 Courtney Gill, 4 Stacey Hiscox, 3 Laura Keates (Clarke 73), 2 Tracy Balmer, 1 Rochelle Clark
Replacements | 16 Helena Bunce, 17 Steph Clarke, 18 Rosie Haigh, 19 Sam Parker, 20 Josie Symonds
09m | Mavroudis try 0-5
12m | Gill try 0-10
13m | Goddard con 0-12
26m | Penalty try 5-12
44m | Large try 5-17
45m | Goddard con 5-19
56m | Burnfield try 12-19
60m | Lund try 12-24
66m | McCarthy try 17-24
79m | S Clark try 17-29
80m | Goddard con 17-31