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