Warriors Women mounted a second half fight-back as they went agonisingly close to securing a losing bonus-point against table-toppers Harlequins Women in the Allianz Premier 15s.
Jo Yapp’s side were 17-0 down at the break, but an early second half score from Sioned Harries and a Cara Brincat try ten minutes from time set up a tense finish in front of a crowd of just under 400 at Sixways.
Taz Bricknell went within a whisker of diving in at the corner in the closing moments which would have secured the bonus-point, however the replacement back-row was tackled into touch by a dogged Quins defensive unit.
It was a huge team effort from the home side, who made full use of the bench with Jemima Moss making her senior debut in the latter stages of the contest.
Quins are clearly a side with a lot of quality in their ranks and demonstrated their attacking prowess in the first period through tries from Heather Cowell, Leanne Riley and Jess Breach.
Cowell opened the scoring on 12 minutes, darting in at the corner on the back of a swift backline move, before Riley doubled the visitors’ tally with a quick-tap penalty with 23 minutes on the clock.
Warriors tight-head Flo Long was yellow carded moments later for infringing at the ruck and Quins took full advantage with Breach sprinting in to extend her side’s lead going in to the break.
Despite conceding a try just after the restart, Quins’ Breach bagging her second of the afternoon, Warriors were a completely different outfit in the second 35.
A driving lineout yielded Warriors’ first try of the day, Wales international Harries dotting down underneath a pile of bodies on 44 minutes. Harries has been in a rich vein of form for Warriors in recent weeks and she proved her worth once again with a captain’s performance.
On 57 minutes, Harries threatened to crash over for her second try of the game when she broke the line and fended off a series of would-be tacklers before being hauled down just short of the whitewash.
Warriors continued to build pressure on Quins’ try line and their endeavour was rewarded on the hour mark through Brincat, who touched down from close range. Exciting full-back Abi Kershaw was the catalyst with a scintillating line break, before being thwarted inches from the try line. Sarah Nicolas’ conversion cut the gap to 24-12 with everything to play for going into the final stretch of the game.
With Warriors piling on the pressure as well as winning a succession of penalties at the breakdown, Quins began to get frustrated and it showed as both sets of players had a heated exchange after the Londoners were penalised.
Jade Shekells’ explosive carry down the near side was just one of a number of attacking opportunities created by Warriors in the final moments of the match. A rolling maul was also held up over the line as the blue and gold’s went in search of that illusive third try.
Quins to their credit stood firm and denied Warriors the losing bonus-point, but it was a display that the Sixways side could be very proud of as they now turn their attention to DMP Durham Sharks in the New Year.
Warriors Women | 15 Vicky Laflin, 14 Paige Farries, 13 Jade Shekells, 12 Meg Varley, 11 Hannah Bluck, 10 Sarah Nicholas, 9 Caity Mattinson, 1 Caryl Thomas, 2 Carmen Tremelling, 3 Flo Long, 4 Cara Brincat, 5 Amelia Buckland Hurry, 6 Jo Brown, 7 Alex Callender, 8 Sioned Harries (c)
Replacements | 16 Hannah Stephens, 17 Roz Jermine, 18 Jemima Moss, 19 Philippa Rawbone, 20 Taz Bricknell, 21 Brooke Bradley, 22 Robyn Wilkins, 23 Vicky Foxwell
14m | Cowell try 0-5
23m | Riley try 0-10
24m | Scott con 0-12
33m | Breach try 0-17
36m | Breach try 0-22
36m | Tuima con 0-24
40m | Harries try 5-24
58m | Brincat try 10-24
58m | Wilkins con 12-24