Warriors Women made it back-to-back victories to end the Allianz Premier 15s campaign strongly, running in nine tries against a resilient Sale Sharks outfit.
In what was billed as the Legends Day fixture, Jo Yapp’s side did the badge proud in front of a number of iconic players who were in attendance among a packed West Stand.
It was first blood to Warriors as early as the fourth minute when hooker Lana Skeldon burrowed over from close-range following a well-executed lineout. Sale were back on level terms six minutes later through number-eight Amy Orrow, who barged her way passed a flurry of Warriors defenders to touchdown. Sale’s character was never in question throughout the afternoon.
On 16 minutes the hosts regained the lead with an emphatic attack involving England Sevens player Jade Shekells, who offloaded to Vicky Laflin for a 30-metre sprint to the try line. Sale hit back on 22 minutes and took the lead for the first time when Evie Tonkin sprinted clear to score under the posts, which Vicky A. Irwin converted.
With the half hour mark looming, Shekells notched up the first of her two scores, profiting from a Sale mix-up inside their own 22 to cross the whitewash. Japan fly-half Minori Yamamoto added the extras for a 17-12 lead.
Moments later Warriors increased their advantage courtesy of Canada wing Paige Farries, who combined with her opposite wing Laflin to steam in from 25-metres out. Again Yamamoto converted to make it 24-12 going into the break.
Sale came out for the second half in positive mood and were rewarded for their endeavour by virtue of prop Catie Benson. Patient build-up play gave the front-row the chance to bulldoze her way over the line and reduce the deficit to 24-19 after Irwin’s conversion.
Sioned Harries, one of three Warriors players to be named in the TikTok Six Nations Team of the Championship, got herself on the scoresheet on 49 minutes. The Wales star escaped the attention of a series of defenders at the set-piece to steamroller in for Warriors’ fifth try.
Shekells then bagged her brace soon after, diving over from point blank range after doing the hard work of getting Warriors within inches of the try line with a blistering line break. The lung-busting centre had sliced through Sharks’ defensive line at will in the previous phase to set-up a meaningful attack, which resulted in her score.
Carys Cox was next to get in on the act 11 minutes from time, supporting Alex Callender’s outrageous break to sprint clear of a scrambling Sale rearguard. Sale never knew when to lie down and they were on the scoresheet again through Lizzie Duffy, however Harries made sure there would be no sensational comeback from the visitors as she intercepted from just inside Sale’s half to saunter home for her second try.
Paige Farries put the icing on the cake with a trademark score in the final act of a scintillating afternoon of rugby at Sixways Stadium.
Warriors Women | 15 Abi Kershaw, 14 Paige Farries, 13 Jade Shekells, 12 Meg Varley, 11 Vicky Laflin, 10 Minori Yamamoto, 9 Caity Mattinson, 1 Caryl Thomas, 2 Lana Skeldon, 3 Laura Keates (c), 4 Lyndsay O’Donnell, 5 Amelia Buckland Hurry, 6 Alex Matthews, 7 Alex Callender, 8 Sioned Harries
Replacements | 16 Carys Phillips, 17 Flo Long, 18 Carmen Tremelling, 19 Alycia Washington, 20 Charlotte Wright Haley, 21 Ffion Lewis, 22 Carys Cox, 23 Cat McNaney
4m | Skeldon try 5-0
9m | Orrow try 5-5
16m | Laflin try 10-5
21m | Tonkin try 10-10
22m | Vicky A. Irwin 10-12
28m | Shekells try 15-12
29m | Yamamoto con 17-12
36m | Farries try 22-12
37m | Yamamoto con 24-12
44m | Benson try 24-17
45m | Vicky A. Irwin con 24-19
49m | Harries try 29-19
55m | Shekells try 34-19
69m | Cox try 39-19
70m | Duffy try 39-24
71m | Vicky A. Irwin con 39-26
75m | Harries try 44-26
80m | Farries try 49-26
80m | Yamamoto con 51-26