Saracens Women 33-17 Harlequins Ladies: Saracens retain Tyrrells Premier 15s title
Last Updated: 28/04/19 10:13am
Saracens Women retained their Tyrrells Premier 15s title with a powerful 33-17 victory over Harlequins Ladies at Franklin's Gardens.
The defending champions did the damage by combining an attacking masterclass in the first-half with a gutsy defensive performance in the second half.
Vice-captain Poppy Cleall opened their scoring after just three minutes and Cleall was one of two players to finish the first 40 minutes with a brace.
Zoe Harrison was the other while Sydney Gregson also crossed to stamp Saracens Women's authority on the final as they held a 27-0 half-time lead.
After the interval, Harlequins Ladies fought back with considerable purpose and pressured their opponents until the final whistle.
Gary Street's outfit scored their opening-points through Emily Scott's boot before tries arrived from Vickii Cornborough and Rachael Burford.
But in the face of the considerable pressure, Saracens Women held their nerve and, after having the final say on the board, confirmed the defence of their title.
"Quins made us fight for it at the end there, we were under the cosh for the whole of the last 40," said Cleall who was named the Tyrrells Player of the Match.
"Thankfully we've worked hard on our 'D' because we knew that they had great players and that they were going to make us work for it."
The victory at Franklin's Gardens marked the final outing in club colours for 33-year-old Saracens scrum-half Georgie Gulliver.
Gulliver, who now is a back-to-back title winner, announced her retirement earlier this week and was visibly emotional when she left the field in the second half and was replaced by Emma Swords.
"Women's rugby has come so far and I feel so privileged and proud to have been a part of it right from the start," said Gulliver after the full-time whistle.
"It's been building momentum and building momentum and now it's at this ridiculous place where it's taking off.
"I feel so proud to be a part of it and the youngsters are going to take the reins now and kick it on to the next level, like they have been all season."
Saracens Women finished the regular season having won 17 of their 18 matches, their only loss came at the hands of Harlequins, and they followed that run up with a victory over Wasps in the play-off semi-finals.
For Alex Austerberry's side, Saturday's result marks consecutive final victories while for Harlequins it marks consecutive final losses at their hands.
"We didn't turn up in that first 40 minutes and you can't give away that many points at this level and expect to come back," said Harlequins Ladies' captain Burford.
"I'm really proud of the fight that we did come back in the second half but that doesn't take away a trophy.
"Sarries put in that first half performance, they were relentless and we just couldn't get it back."