Warriors Women left Surrey Sports Park empty-handed as they went down 31-7 against Harlequins Women in their penultimate Allianz Premier 15s fixture of the season.
The Sixways outfit battled hard from start to finish and even led as early as the 10th minute thanks to a Paige Farries intercept try, but ultimately the day belonged to Quins who moved to within a point of table-toppers Saracens having played a game more.
Warriors, despite the delight of opening the scoring through the Canada wing, never really got going in the attacking stakes, although the scoreline arguably flattered the hosts who were only 10-7 up at the break.
It was first blood to Warriors when Farries’ line speed in defence enabled her to pluck a loose Quins pass out of the air to sprint in under the posts. Sarah Nicholas duly converted to give the visitors the advantage at 7-0 and they would have no doubt hoped for a clean restart to settle themselves down after the elation of the try.
Instead, the ball was knocked on from the restart to enable Quins an attacking platform and despite Warriors initially standing firm to a barrage of pressure, Alex Eddie eventually crashed over for the Londoners. Emily Scott fired the conversion wide of the upright and Warriors had a two-point lead at 7-5.
Five minutes later Freya Aucken doubled Quins’ try-scoring tally for the afternoon, the wing dotting down in the corner on the back of a clinical attacking move. Scott was unable to add the touchline conversion, with Quins now in front at 10-7 which is how it stood at half-time.
The likes of Flo Long and Caryl Thomas continued to battle hard with ball in hand, making gruelling yards to set the platform for some backline attacks. Vicky Laflin and Abi Kershaw looked particularly menacing when provided with ball in hand to get Warriors on the front foot on series of occasions. Additionally, Cara Brincat looked dogged at the breakdown, earning her side a penalty at a crucial time in the first period.
Jo Yapp’s Warriors had much to be encouraged about at the interval, with Quins holding a slender 10-7 lead with a second enthralling 35 minutes still to come. Quins came out for the second half firing on all cylinders from the get-go, and on 41 minutes Lucy Packer charged down an attempted box kick, prior to her gobbling up the ball and racing in for her side’s third try of the afternoon. This time Emily Scott converted to make it 17-7 to give Warriors much to ponder.
Warriors continued to find life difficult as they struggled for territory, with attacking opportunities at a premium as Quins continued to starve their opponents of possession. That coupled with some unforced handling errors in the Warriors camp gave the home side the chance to seal the bonus-point on 56 minutes through Beth Wilcock who scythed in at the corner. Scott was on point with the conversion to increase the title challengers’ lead to 24-7.
Moments before Quins’ fourth try, Warriors welcomed back Akina Gondwe after a lengthy stint on the sideline as she replaced the hard-working Thomas in the loose, with the Warriors players and staff giving her warm applause.
Quins had the last word however as Rosie Dobson touched down by virtue of a dominant rolling maul, which had Warriors in a spin and Scott’s conversion made it 31-7.
Warriors, who will finish seventh in the table thanks to superb run of form in March, now turn their focus to May 8 when they welcome Saracens to Sixways Stadium, a game which will be live streamed by the club (kick-off 2pm).
Warriors Women | 15 Abi Kershaw, 14 Paige Farries, 13 Carys Cox, 12 Jade Shekells, 11 Vicky Laflin, 10 Sarah Nicholas, 9 Brooke Bradley, 1 Caryl Thomas, 2 Carmen Tremelling, 3 Flo Long, 4 Cara Brincat, 5 Amelia Buckland Hurry, 6 Charlotte Wright Haley, 7 Alex Callender, 8 Sioned Harries
Replacements | 16 Abby Smitheman, 17 Akina Gondwe, 18 Elizabeth Shermer, 19 Taz Bricknell, 20 Jo Brown, 21 Caity Mattinson, 22 Meg Varley, 23 Lowri Williams
10m | Farries try 0-5
11m | Nicholas con 0-7
12m | Eddie try 5-7
14m | Aucken 10-7
41m | Packer 15-7
42m | Scott con 17-7
56m | Wilcock try 22-7
57m | Scott con 24-7
70m | Dobson try 31-7