It was heartbreak for Warriors Women as a last gasp Gloucester-Hartpury try denied Jo Yapp’s side maximum points in the Allianz Premier 15s.
Warriors were 24-21 ahead with the clock at zero, only for Robyn Lock to burrow over from close-range and seal victory for the Cherry and Whites in dramatic fashion.
It is a sign of how far Warriors Women have come that they were gutted at the final whistle not to take all five points rather than just the two, with a hat-trick from the impressive Sioned Harries and a score from Alex Callender pushing Gloucester-Hartpury all the way.
The result moved Warriors up to seventh place, one point ahead of Bristol who they welcome to Sixways next weekend for what is expected to be a humdinger of a Premier 15s clash.
The Sixways outfit had it all to do at half-time, just like their previous outing against Sale when they overturned a 21-12 deficit to win 31-21. Warriors went close to repeating the feet and were good value for the win having dominated possession for much of the second half, but this time they came up short.
Gloucester-Hartpury led as early as the seventh minute when skipper Zoe Aldcroft motored her way past a series of would-be tacklers to touchdown. Emma Sing, who was impeccable from the kicking tee throughout the contest, added the extras to put the hosts ahead at 7-0.
The character of Warriors has never been in question this season, and this was highlighted three minutes later as Meg Varley’s barnstorming 40 metre carry got her side to within a whisker of the try line to present Harries with the chance to snipe over. Sarah Nicholas was unable to convert and Warriors trailed 7-5.
The home side extended their advantage on 17 minutes through Kelly Smith, the wing sprinting in with ease after a Warriors handling error on half-way had tipped the balance and allowed Gloucester-Hartpury to attack the space. Sing’s excellent conversion made it 14-5.
On 23 minutes Harries registered the second of her tries and arguably the best of the bunch, crossing the whitewash after leaving a flurry of Cherry and White defenders in her wake on her way to the line.
Looking like they would be going into the break just 14-10 down, the home side rallied for their third try, with Aldcroft notching up her second of the game which was duly converted by Sing to put her side 21-10 in front at the interval.
Warriors came out for the second half all guns blazing, with the likes of props Caryl Thomas and Flo Long setting the platform with a succession of carries which was a key feature of the game. Alex Matthews was in fine form once again too, her consistency in Warriors blue leading her to get call-ups for England as well as the GB training squad.
The next score would be crucial and it was Warriors who ensured it was them who got over the line first in the second period thanks to Callender. The Wales capped back-row emerged from a heap of bodies having crashed over from close-range, with Nicholas slotting home the two points to cut the gap to 21-17.
The visitors continued to dominate territory in the minutes that immediately followed their try as they looked to get their noses in front – the tension too much to bare at times as Warriors looked to throw the ball around the park in expansive style.
Warriors were rewarded for their endeavour in attack when Harries sealed her hat-trick seven minutes from time to edge her side 22-21 ahead. Harries forced her way over on the back of excellent build-up play which needed an air of patience as they worked through the phases. Nicholas made no mistake with the conversion and her side needed to hold on to their 24-21 advantage going into the final three minutes.
With the clock ticking down, the hosts were awarded a penalty for a high tackle which was pumped into touch deep inside Warriors’ 22. Clean ball at the lineout presented the Cherry and White forward line with the opportunity to muscle their way towards the try line, leading eventually to Lock scything over to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Warriors Women | 15 Carys Cox, 14 Paige Farries, 13 Jade Shekells, 12 Meg Varley, 11 Vicky Laflin, 10 Sarah Nicholas, 9 Caity Mattinson, 1 Caryl Thomas, 2 Carys Phillips (c), 3 Flo Long, 4 Cara Brincat, 5 Amelia Buckland Hurry, 6 Taz Bricknell, 7 Alex Callender, 8 Alex Matthews
Replacements | 16 Carmen Tremelling, 17 Abby Smitheman, 18 Abi Castle, 19 Elizabeth Shermer, 20 Sara Moreira, 21 Sioned Harries, 22 Brooke Bradley, 23 Lowri Williams
7m | Aldcroft try 5-0
8m | Sing con 7-0
13m | Harries try 7-5
18m | Smith try 12-5
19m | Sing con 14-5
23m | Harries try 14-10
32m | Aldcroft try 19-10
33m | Sing con 21-10
45m | Callender try 21-15
46m | Nicholas con 21-17
64m |Harries try 21-22
65m | Nicholas con 21-24
70m | Lock try 26-24
70m | Sing con 28-24