- Bristol win their first three Women's Premiership games
- Take an in-depth look at our featured fixture of the round
Bristol continued their fine run of form with a 10-60 win over Worcester Valkyries at Sixways Stadium on Saturday.
The West-Country outfit scored nine tries in total, two apiece for Marlie Packer and returning Olympian and new recruit Jasmine Joyce, with Izzy Noel-Smith, Charlotte Holland, Sasha Acheson, Chantelle Miell and substitute Clara Nielson also touching down.
Captain and England centre Amber Reed was in superb form with the boot, kicking a penalty and six conversions.
All of the Valkyries points were scored by fly-half Megan Goddard, who landed a consolation try at the death for the home side.
THREE IN THREE
With Bristol keen to put the disappointment of missing out on last season’s play offs behind them, they have made a fine start this time.
They have scored 141 points in their first three games, with 22 tries through 14 different players, and England flanker Packer leads the way with five tries, two in the first 20 minutes as she placed herself expertly on the back of two driving mauls.
And captain Reed believes her side have not reached their full potential so far this season.
“We just want to keep the momentum we’ve built so far," said Reed.
“We’re only three games into the season but you can tell by the look of the girls when we were underneath the sticks after conceding that try that we were genuinely disappointed, even though we still had a gap of 50-odd points.
“That’s the level we’ve set ourselves at the moment; we’re disappointed when teams cross our try-line, we’re playing some good rugby, but we’ve got some more gears to find.”
TWO YELLOW CARDS IN TWO MINUTES
After early scores from Noel-Smith and Packer, the Valkyries were under pressure before receiving two yellow cards in two minutes for Helena Bunce and Ceri Large.
Although Packer did cross again soon after, Worcester showed great resilience to shut Bristol out with 13 players, and they even managed to get themselves on the scoreboard in that period through a Goddard penalty.
Outside centre Holland then ran under the posts on the stroke of half-time to claim a bonus point for the away side and put them 3-27 ahead at the break.
Team GB sevens duo Joyce and Megan Jones, who went to Rio as travelling reserve, returned to Bristol for the first time since the Olympic Games.
With both on restricted playing times after their Olympic exertions, Joyce replaced Jones on the half-hour mark and made an immediate impact, assisting Holland’s score just before half-time.
Welsh speedster Joyce went on to score two tries after half-time and looked extremely sharp on her return to the fold, while prop Acheson scored her first try since returning from a two-and-a-half-year spell out with injury.
THE VALKYRIES SHOW GREAT HEART
Proud of @WorcsValkyries Their dignity will only make the next victory more precious and deserved. They will gain strength from adversity— Richard Udall (@allray) September 24, 2016
Although Bristol could not be caught by Worcester in the closing stages, the home side did not give up and were rewarded for their efforts with Goddard finding a hole in Bristol’s defence to cross the whitewash and give the home crowd something to cheer about.
In fact, it was the first time Bristol had conceded a try this season, with their mean defence finally breached after the best part of three matches.
However. it was just reward for Worcester who did not lie down in the face of adversity and Goddard converted her own score to take her points tally for the day to double figures.
Coach Donna Kennedy was complimentary to table-toppers Bristol and was optimistic that her side would improve in the weeks to come.
“We were beaten by a very strong Bristol side," said Kennedy.
“Our defence was poor at times which allowed Bristol’s powerful runners way too much ground and also to play to their strengths regarding their offloading game.
“We’re fully aware of where we failed and the players are upbeat to ensure we put things right.”
NO LET-UP FOR THE VALKYRIES
The Women’s Premiership now takes a week’s break, with the next round of fixtures taking place on the weekend of 8/9 October.
However, there will be no let up for the Valkyries. They face a difficult trip to last season’s finalists Saracens at Allianz Park on Sunday 9 October, with Sarries lying in third place in the table.
Bristol will look to continue their impressive start to the season as they travel to Newcastle on Saturday 8 October to take on Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, the first ever Women’s Premiership game at Kingston Park with kick-off immediately following Newcastle Falcons game against Bristol.
You can view the rest of this weekend’s results here.
Rachel Lund, Alexia Mavroudis, Zoe Bennion, Ceri Large, Sam Bree, Megan Goddard, Bianca Blackburn; Rochelle Clark, Lark Davies, Laura Keates, Rosie Haigh, Stacey Hiscox, Rhiannon Donnahey, Helena Bunce, Courtney Gill
Replacements: Steph Clarke, Lizzie Banks, Amy Wigley, Sam Parker, Josie Symonds
Chantelle Miell, Cat McNaney, Lottie Holland, Amber Reed. Tilly Vaughan Fowler (Becki Belcher, 55), Meg Jones (Jasmine Joyce, 30), Sian Moore (Hannah Gascoigne, 70), Abbie Parsons (Jessie Hood, 70), Carys Phillips (Cara Nielson, 60), Sarah Bern, Amelia Buckland-Hurry, Poppy Cleall, Izzy Noel Smith, Marlie Packer (Sasha Acheson, 48), Sarah Hunter (Poppy Leitch, 60)
Tries: Noel-Smith, Packer (2), Holland, Joyce (2), Acheson, Miell, Nielson
Conversions: Reed (6)