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Match report – Saracens Women 17 – 25 Harlequins Women


Harlequins Women became Premier 15s champions for the first time on Sunday, beating incumbents Saracens

Lagi Tuima netted five penalties and Amy Cokayne scored two tries to give the Harlequins their first Allianz Premier 15s title in a thrilling 25-17 final in Gloucester against defending champions Saracens.

Quins entered Sunday’s game as an underdog, having also lost star winger Jess Breach to injury in last weekend’s semi-final, with the Saracens looking to defend back-to-back titles against the team which they had beaten in the two previous finals.

But it was the Saracens who struggled with discipline as Quins settled in early, finding himself inches from the opener in the opening four minutes.

The away team missed their first real opportunity when Sarries flanker Marlie Packer threw a wide throw from Quins’ roster and saved the early damage.

Quins opted to kick after referee Sara Cox caught Sarries offside, and Tuima kicked the goal cleanly between the posts for the game’s first score.

The thrilling final was played at Kingsholm in Gloucester, with Saracens favorites ahead of kick-off

The thrilling final was played at Kingsholm in Gloucester, with Saracens favorites ahead of kick-off

But Quins, who was already missing at Breach, received a heavy blow early on as captain Rachael Burford was shot after just eight minutes.

Burford lay on the pitch in pain before limping with an apparent knee injury, leaving the pitch with the help of two Quins staff.

Young Izzy Mayhew replaced his skipper as Quins continued to press. Tuima’s boot was then tested again after another penalty from Sarries, doubling the points in the 12th minute.

Quins kept the ball inches from Sarries’ try line, ultimately scoring the game’s first try, with Cokayne winning the driving maul’s credit to bring the score to 11-0.

The Harlequins scored two tries thanks to hooker Amy Cokayne and five penalties via Lagi Tuima in the win

The Harlequins scored two tries thanks to hooker Amy Cokayne and five penalties via Lagi Tuima in the win

And it was the Quins hooker who scored again a few minutes later, scoring in the 27th minute as Tuima failed to convert.

Sarries eventually managed to scoop up a few points after a fiery Packer broke free on the right and did so just before the Quins’ try line before finally breaking through a group of Quins defenders with Zoe Harrison converting for the two additional ones.

Tuima added three more before the break, scoring another penalty to send Quins into the second half with a 19-7 lead.

Saracens, who conceded 11 penalties to Quins’ three in the first 30 minutes, put referee Cox’s nerves to the test early in the second half, as Bryony Cleall received a yellow card just outside Quins 22. Tuima took the opportunity to bring the score to 22-7.

Packer showed no sign of giving up all afternoon and she recovered the ball from the ruck to bring Sarries back to 10 points in the 49th minute with her second try.

Marlie Packer kept Sarries in touch with two tries throughout

Marlie Packer kept Sarries in touch with two tries throughout

Quins, who had proven to be the most disciplined team throughout the first half, started to fall apart as Abbie Ward and Cokayne were both sent to the trash within seconds.

Sophie de Goede took advantage of the two women’s advantage to touch in the 53rd minute to reduce the game to four points.

With a return opportunity on the horizon, it looked like the momentum was finally in Sarries’ favor, but they conceded another penalty and Tuima scored his fifth successful kick of the game to bring the score to 17-25. .

It was enough to seal the deal for the underdogs – now champions.

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“[My injury] feels a little better now, I don’t know if it’s because I have this medal around my neck, ”Burford joked after the game.

“Lagi has been evolving throughout the season, and I thought she had an exceptional performance – her management, her defense, her attacking prowess, and Izzy was exceptional, she was brilliant, she was dominant defensively and managed to force them mistakes.

“Izzy is a player who has come so far this season and it just shows Quins is in a very good position to move forward with young talent like that.

“We also have other players who weren’t even on the squad. It’s amazing you know as I was going out I wasn’t worried because I just knew the team had had enough. .

“I was not going to make the difference, it was the effort of the whole team that made the difference today.”

It was the third time the London rivals have met in the final since the new high-level competition format debuted in 2017, with the Saracens having emerged victorious from the previous two encounters.

Quins dominated the first half, in part thanks to an unusually unruly Sarries side who increased penalty after penalty under the watchful eye of referee Sara Cox and led 19-7 at the break.

But the steadfast north London team looked set to come back in the second half after Abbie Ward and Cokayne were sent to the trash.

Watching from behind the scenes didn’t make the victory any less thrilling for the Quins skipper, who had every confidence in his squad to finish the job.

“I am so proud of the players,” she said. “Jock [Karen Findlay] Said Thursday night, it wasn’t just the 23 on the pitch, it was a whole team.

“The way we’ve been out all week and our preparation, we just have total confidence and conviction and we knew that if we did the job right, the things we wanted to do on the pitch, we could come out victorious.

“I’m so proud of how we pushed ourselves through, knowing what the Saracens can do under these conditions as well.

“Just immensely proud and really thrilled, we managed to get lucky for the third time! “





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