Saints face shootout to save Premiership status
OA Saints 23 Worcester 41
A HOT sunny day in St Albans formed the backdrop for the final league game of the season.
OA Saints kicked off but nerves showed and Worcester were able to spin the ball wide to their winger who sprinted from her own half down the wing and over the try line just two minutes in, with their fly half slotting the ball over for the extras.
After the restart Worcester pushed the ball wide again and while the Saints were still finding their feet the other winger got to show off her pace touching down at just five minutes, with the conversion kicked with ease.
Staring at a two try deficit so early on it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for the Saints. The Saints were not going to lie down and the next 15 minutes was played in the Worcester half with the Saints attacks coming from one to 15, the ball being recycled time and time again.
Frustration finally showed with a penalty awarded to the Saints for an infringement at the ruck. Breaking the deadlock Sarah McKenna kicked the three points, to make the score 14-3.
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Pressure came immediately from kick off from the Saints again who worked the ball wide from the restart and down the touchline back deep into the visitors half. A disrupted lineout allowed the Saints to work back into the 22 where Worcester were again penalised for the same offence within five minutes and another three points came from the boot of Sarah McKenna for the Saints.
For the rest of the half both teams defended well however on the stroke of half time Worcester’s fly half picked a great line and exposing a mismatch in defence and added another seven points.
Worcester came out firing after the restart and pinned the Saints back early and were awarded a penalty and three tries in quick succession. With 30 minutes still to play the score stood at 41-6.
Things were not looking good for the Saints as they lost a flanker to the bin for persistent ruck infringement and centre Simone Shepherd was off the field with a blood injury. The forwards recycled the ball well with strong running from No.8 Leah Carey and prop Ellisha Dee building momentum, with prop Kat Brinsley crashing over for a try, despite the Saints having only 13 players on the park
Spurred on, the Saints attacked from kick off and soon found themselves camped on Worcester’s line, the defence was deemed in at the side of the ruck and it was Worcester’s turn to play a man down. Choosing to take a tap penalty the Saints forwards formed a mobile maul rumbling towards the line only to be pulled down just short by a desperate defence and were awarded a penalty try, converted by McKenna. The final score came shortly after from a well worked move from the Saints stretching the ball wide through the hands of centre Karina Page and No. 8 Carey finally to winger Claire McKenna out flanking the defence and touching down.
The tough transition to the Women’s Elite level has been difficult for the Saints this season who now face a play-off against Bath, the winners of the North v South championship, at Reading this Sunday to fight for their place next year.
Squad: Pretty, Brannon, Brinsley, Knighton, Wadham, German, Thomas, Carey (c), Cameron, S McKenna, C McKenna, Shepherd, Page, Carter, Barnes. Rep: Dee, Willson, Saint-Smith, Allen.