Gloucester-Hartpury edged an enthralling encounter in Round 7 of the Allianz Premier 15s as Warriors Women played in front of supporters for the first time in over ten months.
Jo Yapp’s side were 15-0 down at the break courtesy of tries from Kelsey Jones and Ellie Underwood, but a Sioned Harries score on 47 minutes tipped the balance of the contest going into the final stages.
Experienced Wales international Harries bulldozed her way over the line on the back of multiple phases which saw the Warriors heavies edging towards the visitors’ whitewash.
It was no less than what Warriors deserved after coming out for the second half all guns blazing, itching to overturn a 15-0 deficit.
The Cherry and Whites went in front as early as the second minute by virtue of a Daisey Fahey penalty after a mix-up directly from the kick-off, which saw Warriors penalised for offside. Jones extended the visitors’ lead four minutes later from a driving lineout, with Fahey adding the extras to make it 10-0.
Despite the early set-back, Warriors recovered nicely with experienced campaigners Alex Matthews and Harries coming up with important plays to thwart any momentum generated by the Cherry and Whites.
Vicky Laflin and Paige Farries were also in the attacking groove, eying any gaps in the Gloucester defensive line throughout the first period as they played running rugby rather than a kick-chase game.
On 23 minutes Warriors could breathe a sigh of relief as they managed to stop their opponents from doubling their try-scoring tally for the afternoon with resolute defending. Phase after phase, Gloucester were unable to breach Warriors’ rearguard and the score remained at 10-0.
However, just past the half hour mark Underwood raced in under the posts for Gloucester’s second try of the afternoon after the ball was shifted to the near side at pace. Fahey sliced the conversion, with Warriors going into the interval 15-0 down.
Warriors came out for the second half in positive mood and had Gloucester on the back foot for large periods as the Cherry and Whites’ defensive resistance was challenged to the max.
Matthews set Sarah Nicholas free with a sublime drop of the shoulder and offload on 46 minutes to set the tone for Warriors’ attacking intent, but try as they might, the hosts were finding the visitors’ defence a tough proposition to crack.
Warriors got their just reward on 47 minutes through Wales international Harries, who burrowed over from close range following a series of phases. The likes of Jo Brown and Alex Callender made some crucial metres forward to give Harries the chance to add her name in lights. Nicholas booted the extras to reduce the deficit to 15-7, with Warriors no doubt fancying their chances with over 20 minutes left on the clock.
Gloucester came back at Warriors with an immediate line break, but the impressive Abi Kershaw took care of matters with an excellent covering tackle into touch. The visitors had a try chalked off moments later as they threatened a third score and despite Warriors’ resilience when their backs were against the wall, they were unable to get the losing bonus point they craved as time ran out.
Warriors Women | 15 Abi Kershaw, 14 Paige Farries, 13 Jade Shekells, 12 Meg Varley, 11 Vicky Laflin, 10 Sarah Nicholas (CC), 9 Caity Mattinson, 1 Caryl Thomas, 2 Carmen Tremelling, 3 Flo Long, 4 Sioned Harries (CC), 5 Cara Brincat, 6 Taz Bricknell, 7 Alex Callender, 8 Alex Matthews
Replacements | 16 Hannah Stephens, 17 Roz Jermine, 18 Amelia Buckland Hurry, 19 Philippa Rawbone, 20 Jo Brown, 21 Brooke Bradley, 22 Hannah Bluck, 23 Zoe Heeley
2m | Fahey pen 0-3
6m | Jones try 0-8
6m | Fahey con 0-10
31m | Underwood try 0-15
47m | Harries try 5-15
47m | Nicholas con 7-15