Old Albanian Saints secure the double but bosses already planning for more success next year

PUBLISHED: 16:55 18 April 2019

OA Saints celebrate winning the Women's Intermediate Cup against Harrogate. Picture: EMMA COOKE

OA Saints celebrate winning the Women's Intermediate Cup against Harrogate. Picture: EMMA COOKE

Archant

Old Albanian Saints put the cherry on top of an almost perfect season by adding a national cup to their league title and promotion.

OA Saints in action against Harrogate in the final of the Women's Intermediate Cup. Picture: EMMA COOKEOA Saints in action against Harrogate in the final of the Women's Intermediate Cup. Picture: EMMA COOKE

The winners of Women's Championship Division Two South East had earned promotion to the second tier of English rugby seven days earlier by beating Guildford Gazelles in a promotion play-off.

And they carried that confidence with them to Derby where a 24-10 win over Harrogate clinched the Women's Intermediate Cup.

OA Saints in action against Harrogate in the final of the Women's Intermediate Cup. Picture: EMMA COOKEOA Saints in action against Harrogate in the final of the Women's Intermediate Cup. Picture: EMMA COOKE

But despite the success, head coach Darran Brown and his assistant, Saracens and England full-back Sarah McKenna, feel there is more to come from their talented squad.

He said: “Sarah and I could not have asked of any more from this group of players this year.

OA Saints in action against Harrogate in the final of the Women's Intermediate Cup. Picture: EMMA COOKEOA Saints in action against Harrogate in the final of the Women's Intermediate Cup. Picture: EMMA COOKE

“However, we believe we are only scratching the surface of their true potential and look forward to new challenges next season.”

The final saw them up against an unbeaten Harrogate side, themselves destined to play in the second tier next season.

OA Saints in action against Harrogate in the final of the Women's Intermediate Cup. Picture: EMMA COOKEOA Saints in action against Harrogate in the final of the Women's Intermediate Cup. Picture: EMMA COOKE

And the promise of a classic encounter was soon realised as the teams brought their best to the table for the full 80 minutes.

Harrogate put lots of pressure on the Saints' defence in the opening 20 minutes but OAs were up to the challenge and as the half wore on, they started to take control.

Beth Saunders in action for OA Saints against Harrogate in the final of the Women's Intermediate Cup. Picture: EMMA COOKEBeth Saunders in action for OA Saints against Harrogate in the final of the Women's Intermediate Cup. Picture: EMMA COOKE

The first try of the contest came just before half-time courtesy of Steph Plunkett, with Beth Saunders adding the conversion.

The second period began with an unconverted try for Harrogate but Saints responded with one of their own, this time through Georgina Kreysa.

A third score followed, Plunkett getting her second and as she had done with the first, Saunders added the conversion.

A breakaway score kept Harrogate in the mix, although the extras were again missed, but the final 10 minutes were dominated by Saints and they clinched the win when Claire McKenna went over.

Brown added: “Harrogate are a very good side and showed their quality throughout.

“But collectively on the day we had a little bit more and got the result that the squad's effort has deserved.”

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