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Will Carpenter


Posted Saturday, September 21st 2019

Report: Bristol Bears Women 22-35 Saracens Women

Clara Nielson scored with the final play to earn Bristol Bears Women a consolation bonus-point in a 22-35 defeat to reigning champions Saracens at Shaftesbury Park.

The co-captain powered over from a driving lineout to score her side’s fourth try, after Keira Bevan’s second of the afternoon saw the Bears rally late on.

Lucy Attwood’s early score and Bevan’s first of the match had fired Bristol into a 10-3 lead midway through the first-half.

But after a yellow card for Sonia Green, Saracens hit back with a decisive 15-minute blitz, as tries from Marlie Packer and Lottie Clapp turned the game on its head at the interval.

And the visitors put the game to bed in the second half, with tries from Jodie Rettie, Chantelle Miell and Rocky Clark, after Bristol’s Lillycrap was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle.

The hosts weren’t finished though and launched a stirring fightback in the closing stages, with Nielson’s try just reward for a spirited display from Kim Oliver’s side.

What happened?

It was Saracens who took an early lead courtesy of a Lisa Martin penalty, but the Bears hit back in style, as Lucy Attwood applied the finishing touches to Siwan Lillycrap’s break down the right-hand side.

Kim Oliver’s side continued to apply the pressure and came close to a second from successive driving lineouts.

Sarries repelled the initial surge, but were unable to do so legally, with Sonia Green sent to the sin-bin for not rolling away.

Now with a numerical advantage, Bristol made it pay immediately, as Sonia Bevan sniped her way over from another strong Bears drive.

But back came Saracens to deliver a devastating 15-minute blitz before the interval, with tries from former Bristol player Marlie Packer and wing Lottie Clapp.

Two conversions and a penalty from the pinpoint boot of Lisa Martin edged the visitors into a 10-point lead at half-time.

Kiera Bevan scores her second of the afternoon (JMPUK).

The second-half started poorly for Bristol, with Lillycrap sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle and Saracens scoring their third from close range through Jodie Rettie.

They secured the bonus-point six minutes later through Chantelle Miell, breaking away down the left wing after slick handling in the Sarries midfield.

The Bears thought they had pulled one back when Attwood scooped up a loose ball to cruise in from 50 metres, but the score was ruled out for a knock on in the build-up.

But the hosts’ third finally arrived ten minutes from time, created by some sensational footwork from replacement Lauren Smyth and finished expertly by the supporting Bevan, who grabbed her second of the afternoon.

With time almost up, Bristol launched one final charge for the all-important fourth try – and it arrived in the shape of Clara Nielson, touching down from a well-worked lineout drive to earn a crucial bonus-point.

The teams:

Bristol Bears Women: Hughes, Stoeger-Goddard, Phoebe Murray, Attwood, Burgess, Snowsill, Bevan; Keddie, Nielson (c), Bern, Cunningham, Lillicrap, Jefferies, Leitch, Marston. Replacements: Budge, Mulhearn, Thomas, Mayes, Skuse, Smyth.

Saracens Women: McKenna, Laqeretabua, Casey, Miell, Clapp, Martin, Hayward; Botterman, Carson, Layola, Green, Galligan, Fleetwood, Packer, Rettie. Replacements: Campbell, Clark, Siczowa, Evans, Knight, Wong, Staunton.

Bristol Bears Women: Tries: Attwood 8, Bevan 22, 70, Nielson 80. Cons: Snowsill 70. Yellow: Lillycrap 49

Saracens Women: Tries: Packer 24, Clapp 31, Rettie 50, Miell 55, Clark 73. Cons: Martin 24, 31. Pens: Martin 2, 29. Yellow: Green 20

Key moment:

A yellow card for Saracens' Sonia Green saw Bristol capitalise immediately on their numerical advantage, but the visitors weren't to be deterred and hit back with a devastating 15-minute blitz whilst down to 14, with two converted tries and a penalty putting the game out of Bristol's reach.

Player of the match: Rownita Marston

The powerful number eight put in a huge shift at the back of the Bears scrum, carrying well in the loose and landing some thundering shots in defence. 

Marston was key to a sensational start from the Bears, before the reigning champions turned the screw at Shaftesbury Park.

Oliver reaction

Photo of the match

Lucy Attwood scores Bristol's opening try (JMPUK).

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