Saracens beat Harlequins 33-17 in Tyrrells Premier 15s final at Franklin’s Gardens

Saracens win back-to-back Tyrrells Premier 15s titles

A crowd of 2,590 braved the wind and the cold at Franklin’s Gardens to see Saracens secure back-to-back Tyrrells Premier 15s titles by beating Harlequins 33-17.

While Saracens stormed out of the blocks – scoring five first-half tries – Quins didn’t kick into gear until the second period, which was far too late to mount a challenge for the trophy.

This was expected to be a tight contest, both league games between the two sides having three-point winning margins, but Saracens looked in control of all facets of the game as they took a 27-0 half-time lead.

Saracens win back-to-back Tyrrells Premier 15s titles

The prelude: Saracens and Harlequins walk out for the final at Franklin’s Gardens (Getty Images)

They dominated lineouts both on their throw and Quins’, look to have mastered the ‘Wolfpack defence’ the Saracens men’s side are known for and even when they came under pressure at scrum time, Player of the Match Poppy Cleall managed to get them out of trouble when breaking from the base.

It was Cleall who scored Saracens’ first try, touching down within four minutes after Hannah Botterman had made ground from the a close-range driving maul.

They had doubled their lead at the ten-minute mark when Botterman produced the scoring pass to put winger Sydney Gregson into space for a simple try in the corner.

Saracens win back-to-back Tyrrells Premier 15s titles

Over the line: Sydney Gregson scores Saracens’ second try against Harlequins (Getty Images)

Quins simply couldn’t get a foothold in the game, their own errors and Saracens’ line speed limiting their attacking threat.

Sarries had another try midway through the half when Zoe Harrison burst through two defenders – Botterman making ground in the build-up again – and Cleall grabbed her second in the 26th minute when jumping through a breakdown.

Quins then did have a series of penalties in the Saracens half but the decision to opt for scrums on the 22 rather than kick for the corner didn’t prove fruitful and Sarries scored a fifth try even while their openside Jodie Rettie was in the sin-bin.

Botterman and Cleall both made strong carries before Harrison glided through the Quins defence for her second try. She converted this one, too, for a 27-0 half-time lead.

Saracens win back-to-back Tyrrells Premier 15s titles

No rooom: Leanne Riley is closed down by Saracens (Getty Images)

Quins brought on Bethany Wilcock and Tove Viksten at the start of the second half, Emily Scott moving to fly-half in place of Ellie Green and slotting an early penalty.

Harrison replied from the tee to maintain Sarries’ advantage but Quins were also harrying her in defence, charging down a couple of kicks, as they showed more determination in that second period.

Their renewed vigour was rewarded when Vickii Cornborough scored a try from a five-metre scrum and Scott converted to make it 30-10.

Quins came again, speeding up the game with quick tap penalties and offloads to try to negate the speed with which Sarries were closing them down.

Captain Rachael Burford got their second try after Abbie Scott had taken them to the line. Burford, whose distribution game had been nullified by Saracens closing down the space around her, picked up the ball at the back of the ensuing ruck and stretched over to ground it.

That made it 30-17 with 15 minutes to play and Saracens were clearly wary of a Quins comeback given that they opted to kick for the posts a few minutes later. Harrison missed that one but slotted another from in front of the posts in the final minute to secure a second successive title.

It was certainly a contrast in halves but Saracens were deserved winners.

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