We round up all the action from our joint Saints / Loughborough Lightning side in the Women’s Premier 15s competition, with our other partner club – Bedford Blues – enjoying a weekend off from Championship action…
Bristol Bears Women 26 – 26 Loughborough Lightning
Loughborough Lightning fought back from a 14-point deficit to claim a dramatic draw against second-placed Bristol Bears in the Allianz Premier 15s at Shaftesbury Park.
This was the second week in a row that a match involving Loughborough finished all square, following their 19-19 tie at home to Gloucester-Hartpury the previous week.
It could not have been a worse start for the Lightning in the West Country, as they conceded two tries in the opening four minutes.
Hannah West cut through to cross the whitewash in the second minute and with the visitors still reeling from that early setback, Jasmine Joyce sped clear to score herself – with Amber Reed converting both efforts.
Bristol then had a Leanne Infante ‘try’ disallowed for an infringement in the build-up and Loughborough made the most of that let-off to get themselves back in the contest.
In the 21st minute, a superb break from Georgie Lingham led to Helena Rowland darting over for a score that the fly-half converted herself.
It wasn’t long until the hosts restored their 14-point cushion, however, as a solid set-piece led to Rownita Marston crashing over the line, with Reed once again adding the extras.
History then repeated itself, as captain Rachel Malcolm pulled a score back for Lightning, only for Bristol to pull clear again by sealing their four-try bonus point through Kayleigh Powell after 35 minutes.
That left the Bears 26-12 in front at half-time, with Loughborough facing a mountain to climb against the team they defeated at Epinal Way back in December.
The second half was a tighter affair than the first, but Lightning had hope on 65 minutes when hooker Lark Davies was driven over the line by her fellow forwards, with Rowland’s conversion reducing the gap to seven points.
Spurred on by this score, the visitors had the chance to level the match with seven minutes left when USA prop Charli Jacoby powered over to score, with Rowland holding her nerve with the conversion.
Loughborough’s second successive draw was their last league fixture before the start of the Women’s Six Nations and they now lie sixth in the table, five points off the play-off places.
Their next match in the Premier 15s, against Worcester Warriors, won’t be until Saturday 6 May, but they will resume their Allianz Cup campaign at Exeter Chiefs on March 26.