Dogged Aylesford fight back to book final place
THE Women’s Premiership will have a new winner next Sunday after Bristol and Aylesford Bulls reached the final for the first time in their history. Bristol defeated Saracens 43-10 at Cleve RFC last Sunday thanks to two tries apiece for Poppy Cleall and Claire Molloy, while Aylesford stunned Lichfield 22-15 on the road.
The final will take place at Sixways Stadium with Lichfield taking on Saracens in the third place play-off as a curtain raiser before the final at 3pm.
Roy Davies’ Bristol, who ended the regular season at the top of the table, scored three more tries through Clara Nielson, Kayleigh Armstrong and Chantelle Miell, while Amber Reed kicked 13 points as they led 43-0 going into the last ten minutes.
Saracens finally got themselves off the mark after 73 minutes when Lotte Clapp crossed out wide, and Bryony Cleall made sure both sisters got on the score sheet when she powered over from close range three minutes from time.
“I’m really pleased with the whole squad performance,” said Davies.
“What was really encouraging was there were points in the game where we were under pressure and had to work our way through, and the team did this exceptionally well.
“We had a strong bench and each player who came on had an impact and played an important part in the victory.”
In the other semi-final at Cooke Fields, Aylesford came from behind to beat Lichfield, with tries from Vickii Cornborough, Jess Wooden and Manuela Furlan.
Lichfield scored two tries of their own through Jennifer Maxwell and a penalty try.
Aylesford Bulls head coach Karen Findlay said: “Our backs were against the wall at points during that match, and all we asked of the squad was to empty their tanks and they did exactly that.
“I am extremely proud of what the squad achieved.”