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Richmond take title on a weekend of upsets

Richmond secured their third consecutive English women's rugby Premiership title at the weekend despite losing just their second game of the season to Lichfield. Saracens were unable to capitalise on the league-leaders' loss, losing themselves at DMP Sharks meaning the title stayed in west-London once again this year. Elsewhere Bristol beat Wasps (see Sally Tuson scoring in that game above) and Worcester beat OA Saints. Image thanks to Lloyd Guy.

Lichfield 20 Richmond 19

Richmond secured their third Premiership title in a row at the weekend despite a one-point loss away at Lichfield. Their bonus point loss as well as a loss for Saracens was enough to secure them the title after a tight game here.

Despite the absence of several key players from both team-sheets, this was a fixture which promised excitement and quality.

Lichfield hooker Becky Williams had crucial involvement in the opening exchanges; first tackling man and ball in defence, and then in attack, drawing the last defender and putting winger Saskia Brazier Kobus in for the first try, which she ran in under the sticks.

Richmond missed a penalty, but continued to have the better of the possession and territory, but Lichfield fulfilled their duties without ball in hand and kept their score to nil. Emily Scarratt added three points from the boot to take Lichfield ten points clear.

Lichfield looked in danger of conceding after Richmond conjured an overlap, but the referee blew for a forward pass. From the resulting scrum, a neatly executed blind side move from the Lichfield back row generated some quick ball. The backs held the space, which Scarratt made her own and Lichfield ended the passage of play 17 points to the good.

The restart saw Lichfield fire-fighting under their own posts. They could not snuff this one out and Richmond winger Claire Dennison raced over in the corner with Fi Davidson hitting an excellent wide conversion to give the visitors their first seven pointer.

After the break, Richmonds industry and commitment to running-rugby continued as they enjoyed plenty of possession. However uncharacteristically the league leaders made a number of errors preventing them from capitalising on good ball. Eventually though the visitors made good with a try and a conversion from Davidson and it was a three point game going into the last 20 minutes.

Scarratt though extended the lead with a well taken penalty and despite a late try from Emma Croker, a missed conversion from wide out meant Lichfield held on for a one point win.

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Bristol 27 Wasps 17

Playing at home, this was a big target game for Bristol who by their own admission have failed at times this season to close out games.

The home side started strongly with the pack laying on a good platform for the direct running of the impressive Sally Tuson who grabbed two early tries showing good pace and footwork.

Wasps answered with a try of their own from free-scoring prop Steph Te Ohaera Fox but fresh from International duty, Claire Molloy and Marlie Packer, made their presence felt around the pitch with Packer grabbing the third try of the game for the home side converted by Sarah Graham.

The first half ended with the home side leading 17-7 with Tina Lee having converted the Wasps try.

Although Bristol looked in control, Wasps did come back in the second half to threaten the home sides lead.

Kim Olivers well taken early second half try secured a much sought after bonus point, but this was followed swiftly by two tries from Wasps.

First Laura Quinn went over and then front row Davinia Monteiro crashed over with the Wasps scrim dominating throughout the second half. But neither of the tries were converted and Bristol held the ten point lead.

Bristol managed to find gaps in the Wasps line and continued to play some exciting rugby; Tuson and Amber Reed, back from injury, distributed well and with excellent speed and offloading down the wing, Becky Hughes set up Sarah Graham for a final Bristol try.

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Worcester 79 OA Saints 0

OA Saints have had a tough season in the Premiership and arrived at Worcester with only 14 players and the game commenced with uncontested scrums. Despite this, Worcester and England props Rochelle Clarke and Laura Keates both sustained injuries during the game.

Worcester were also struggling to field a team, with long term injuries and England duty taking its toll. That situation saw player-coach Donna Kennedy back into action, and her dedication was rewarded with a try on the stroke of half time, after which she withdrew from the action.

The game was very one sided and totally dominated by the young Worcester backs who ran some good patterns of play and scored freely. Worcester reduced their numbers to 13 due to injury after 60 minutes, but were still far too strong for the spirited Saints.

The half time score was 47 0 and the full time score was 79 -0. Ceri Large was not having her best day with the boot, with only two of the fifteen tries being converted.

To the credit of Saints, they came for a game and did their utmost to provide one, playing with passion and gusto to the very end, but sadly without significant effect.

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DMP Sharks 48 Saracens 13

Saracens suffered just their third defeat of the season going down a rampant home side up north. The loss meant that Saracens couldn't take advantage of Richmond's slip-up and make the title race go all the way to the final game. DMP Sharks flew out of the blocks with a try from Irish international Sophie Spence which England skipper Katy McLean converted.

Saracens hit back with a penalty from Darel Poole and then a try from flying winger Ziara Handley but then the home side really stepped up the pace running in three unanswered tries before the break from Tamara Taylor, McLean and Ruth Nash as the hosts took a 26-8 lead into the break.

Taylor added a second try right after the break and though Saracens replied with a try from Alma Okafar it was too little too late. DMP ended the game emphatically with Nash grabbing another score before two more from Ruth Leybourne.

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