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