Richmond Women played Worcester Ladies in the first ever semi-final play-off on Sunday and once again exerted their power and dominance, which saw them take the top of the table spot this season, winning a cool 35-0.
In front a great crowd of supporters and filmed for SkySports, the pressure was on for favourites Richmond to perform in the all or nothing game.
Richmond didn’t have the perfect start as they kicked off and conceded a penalty from the first break down. Both teams had a nervy start as they both tried to settle into the game.
Worcester were pinned in their own half but weren’t going to let Richmond have it all their own way. Star Worcester and England scrum half Bianca Blackburn applied pressure at the base of the scrum, scragging Anna Caplice as she picked and carried the ball, disrupting Richmond’s attack.
But in a game littered with penalties at the break down, it was Worcester’s turn to have the whistle blown against them, which proved costly as Abi Chamberlain kicked the three points.
Strong carries from the forward pack of Ellisha Dee, Anna Caplice and Captain Emma Croker took Richmond right into the red zone but ferocious tackling from the visitors kept them at bay, until Worcester conceded another penalty on their own 22.
Opting for the corner, Richmond sucked in defenders through a catch and drive. Centre Amy Turner took a crash ball off of it and popped the ball up to the ever-threatening Vickki Cornborough who scored the opening try of the game.
Spurred on by the score, Worcester charged their way forward and powered their way into Richmond’s half. It was then Richmond’s turn to get a chat from the ref for ill discipline and it gave the perfect attacking platform for Worcester who took the lineout from the resulting penalty.
Richmond were under immense pressure as the midlanders launched wave after wave of runners at the try line and were camped only metres from the line for a long period of time. Dogged defence from Richmond kept them out and they managed to turn the ball over and kick their way out of danger.
But Worcester’s pacey back line ran back hard and Richmond were caught short in their defensive line. With numbers on out wide, it was only thanks to a great tackle from winger Alicia McComish who took man and ball that prevented a score.
Leading by example, Captain Croker took her team back up the pitch and Richmond look dangerous again with slicing runs coming from Caplice.
The half time score stood at just 8-0. The crowd knew whichever team scored next would have a big impact on the outcome of this game.
No sooner had the whistle gone for the second half, Richmond struck again. A well-worked move off a scrum put Cornborough in space and she sliced through defenders, giving her team a great territorial advantage.
As Worcester infringe again in their own 22, England scrum half Leanne Riley took a quick tap, catching Worcester unawares and scored under the posts. The conversion was missed, bringing the score to 13-0.
The front row combination of Croker and Cornborough proved tough to handle as Croker exploited gaps around the ruck on several occasions. Cornborough got on the scoresheet for her second try of the day after bulldozing her way through tacklers.
Richmond showed great control and composure as they started to extend their lead. The third try of the game came through some superb handling down the backline, drawing in defenders and creating enough space for McComish to run down the wing to cross the line.
But as frustrations mounted, so did the penalty count and both teams found themselves seeing yellow: Rocky Clarke and Ellisha Dee both spent 10 minutes in the bin.
Richmond unleashed their bench and getting straight into the action with her first touch of the ball, Laura Kapo rampaged her way to the line and brushed off tacklers to get five points. The conversion was missed, bringing the score to 28-0.
Comfortable and playing with confidence now, Worcester struggled to cope with Richmond’s power and accuracy. The forwards pound away at the tryline again and also assert themselves at scrum time, sending the Worcester pack backwards.
Worcester then found themselves down to 14 again when hooker Tracey Balmer was binned with four minutes to go. Richmond played tactically and opted for the scrum for the resulting penalty. Unable to combat the oncoming Richmond pack, the ref awarded the home side a penalty try, which was converted by Chamberlain. The final score was 35-0
An impressive performance from the home side who were able to weather the Worcester storm in the first half, has earned them a place in the first ever Premiership Final against Saracens on Sunday 17th January, KO 5.30pm.
|10/01/2016||2:30 pm||Premiership Semi-Finals||2015-16|