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Loughborough Lightning & Saracens both unbeaten

Loughborough Lightning and Saracens both remain unbeaten with hard-fought victories to retain their top two places in the Tyrrells Premier 15s table.

Lightning overcame Bristol Bears Women in an enthralling encounter, while Saracens powered past fellow top-four outfit Wasps FC Ladies as both sides are yet to taste defeat through five rounds.

Harlequins Ladies climbed to third, while there were also victories for Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks.

Saracens 21 – 5 Wasps

Saracens made it five straight wins with a 21-5 win over Wasps FC Ladies as the north London side continue the defence of their Tyrrells Premier 15s title, leading the league on points difference.

The hosts controlled large parts of the proceedings and remain unbeaten heading into next weekend’s fixture away to Harlequins Ladies at Twickenham Stoop.

Saracens were made to work for their half-time lead but found the breakthrough as the ball was worked wide to England international Vicky Fleetwood, who was left plenty of space to open the scoring before Lauren Cattell tucked away the conversion to send Saracens 7-0 up at the break.

In the second half, a penalty try was awarded to the home side following a commanding scrum, before captain Lotte Clapp intercepted a stray pass to race through and score.

Wasps managed to pull a try back after Bryony Cleall received a yellow card for Saracens, the visitors taking advantage almost immediately with Sarah Mitchelson on hand to make the pressure count but it wasn’t enough to deny the hosts.

Loughborough Lightning 36 – 18 Bristol Bears 

Loughborough Lightning maintained their perfect start to the season, as a strong second-half showing secured a six-try bonus-point 36-18 victory over Bristol Bears Women.

After a quiet start, it was four-cap England international Charlotte Pearce who brought the game to life, as her two tries – one of which Katy Daley-Mclean converted – left Loughborough with a 12-6 lead after 30 minutes; with Welsh international Elinor Snowsill booting a pair of Bears penalties in response.

Pearce’s first came from a striking team move that started in the Lightning 22 saw Carys Williams make huge ground and offload to the supporting winger to score.

Lilly Stoeger-Goddard and Olivia Jones then exchanged tries to put the home side 17-11 up at the break but, as the hour mark approached, Bristol edged ahead when Poppy Leitch barged over and Snowsill converted.

Their joy was short-lived as Jenny Maxwell restored Loughborough’s advantage with 15 minutes left by diving in from close range, before player of the match Natasha Jones and Cath O’Donnell gave the final score an emphatic look.

Firwood Waterloo Ladies 10 – 43 Gloucester-Hartpury 

England international Kelly Smith crossed for a hat-trick as a first-half blitz from Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC secured them a second win of the season with a seven-try 43-10 triumph at Firwood Waterloo Ladies. This puts her joint top of the try scorer table with seven for the season so far alongside Saracens forward Poppy Cleall.

Gloucester-Hartpury racked up 40 points in defeat against Loughborough Lightning last time out but it was more than enough for a bonus-point win at the Memorial Ground on this occasion, as six tries established a 38-3 half-time lead.

Winger Smith – who made her Red Roses debut in this year’s Women’s Six Nations – finished off three slick team moves out wide in a first 20 minutes that also saw fellow England international Bianca Blackburn snipe her way over the whitewash.

Ellie Underwood and Millie Wood also dotted down in the first 40 minutes, before Wood took advantage of Megan Goddard’s initial break after the interval for the visitors’ only score of the second half, although Firwood Waterloo had the final say with a late try.

Worcester Valkyries 19 – 69 Harlequins Ladies

Harlequins put in a convincing performance to beat Worcester Valkyries 69-19 and climb to third in the Tyrrells Premier 15s table.

The visitors made their mark early on with four tries in the first 15 minutes – two scores from England scrum half Leanne Riley and one each from Lucy Packer and Jade Mullen to put Quins firmly in control.

England forward Shaunagh Brown twice showed her strength to touch down either side of half-time and Irish front-rower Leah Lyons and wing Heather Cowell also went over as the visitors continued to rack up the points in Worcestershire.

Valkyries hit back with two quick tries from Zoe Bennion and England U20 Charlie Wilcock but there was to be no comeback as Emily Scott, Kristine Sommer and Sarah Cornforth rounded out a dominant display for the Londoners.

Darlington Mowden Park Sharks 15 – 7 Richmond FC

Beth Blacklock and Rachael Woosey both crossed for tries as Darlington Mowden Park Sharks held off Richmond to secure their second win of the season.

It was Blacklock who got the game’s opening try, chipping ahead and collecting herself for a fine solo score.

Sharks bagged a second before the break when Woosey was fed by Lisa Thomson to dot down and this time Blacklock’s extras bisected the posts for a 12-0 lead at the interval.

A Blacklock penalty extended their lead in the second half to 15-0 before Richmond finally mounted a response.

Cerys Lawrence’s smart score reduced arrears but that was as good as it got for the visitors and the Sharks held on for a 15-7 win that denied their opponents even a losing bonus point.