The Women’s Premiership returns this Sunday after the players had a well-deserved rest last weekend. It comes back at crunch time, as just two fixtures remain to decide top spot and the final two places in the end of season play-off.
The weekend’s biggest tie sees top spot chasing Saracens Women host Bristol Ladies in a game with massive implications at the top of the table. After a superb 20-5 victory over Richmond, Saracens are just two points off the top whilst Bristol still need another victory to make their play-off spot safe.
The home side go into the clash as favourites following their 35-5 victory in the reverse fixture earlier in the season and find themselves in a rich vein of form, unbeaten in their last six. Their opponents have won three on the bounce but only narrowly got past DMP Sharks last weekend and are certain to face a much tougher test this time out.
A loss for both sides is almost unthinkable. For Saracens it would see their hopes of finishing top finished whilst for Bristol defeat would make their final fixture against Worcester a must win, but may only be enough to see them finish fourth.
This is due to the resurgence of Lichfield who can almost seal their place in the play-offs this weekend if they can get the better of Wasps.
Wasps play host this weekend and will be hoping to translate their brilliant second-half performance last weekend into a full 80 minutes and pile the pressure on Lichfield from the start. They ran Worcester close last weekend and may fancy their chances of at least getting a losing bonus point out of this weekend’s encounter.
Lichfield will be favourites though and come into the game on the back of a 55-0 triumph over bottom club Aylesford. They have been free scoring this season racking up 392 points so far. This makes them the third highest scoring side in the division and Wasps may be worried about suffering a similar defeat to their 66-22 loss earlier in the campaign.
A bonus point win could see Lichfield secure a play-off place this weekend. If Bristol lose to Saracens and Lichfield take all five points this would be enough to see them move into third place. The only other teams that can qualify are Bristol and Worcester, who play each other in the final fixture. Clearly they can’t both win and a draw would not be enough for Worcester to qualify, meaning Lichfield would at least be sitting in fourth, enough to send them through.
Worcester themselves still have a lot to do and will be looking for all five points as they travel to Darlington to face DMP Sharks. The visitors know that they need nine from their remaining 10 to be sure of a play-off spot and Sunday’s fixture is their best chance to get the bonus points they need.
It won’t be an easy afternoon for Worcester though as Bristol found out last week, only narrowly getting the better of the Sharks 17-10. Despite the Sharks having nothing to play for, they put up impressive resistance which could frustrate a Worcester side who know they need to pile on the scoring.
Worcester ran out 55-19 winners in the reverse fixture and whilst they go into the tie as favourites, there may not be as much between the sides with as little as two scores between the two sides.
In the weekend’s final tie Richmond go to Aylesford Bulls, as they look to bounce back from their first defeat of the season time out against Saracens.
The game on paper looks very one sided with the Bulls conceding heavily since picking up their first league win. They have conceded 220 points in their last three fixtures, scoring just one penalty in that time in by far their worst run of the season.
The last thing you want to see when you’re on that run is the division’s highest scorers turning up but that’s exactly what they face in Richmond. Strength, pace and a real clinical edge have seen them claim eight try bonus points from 11 wins. They are very strong favourites to make that nine from 12 in what could be a long afternoon for the home side.