Loughborough Lightning condemned Harlequins to a rare Premier 15s defeat as they prevailed 20-17 in a thrilling encounter at Cobham RFC.
Lark Davies’ late try, coupled with scores from Detysha Harper and Abbie Brown, saw Lightning fight back with just four minutes remaining to inflict a third loss of the season Quins and leapfrog them into second in the table.
Elsewhere in Round 12, Exeter Chiefs secured a fifth consecutive victory with a 17-10 win over Worcester Warriors while Bristol Bears saw off Sale Sharks 22-12 at Shaftesbury Park.
Lightning, coming up against a Quins side looking to avenge their defeat at Sandy Park last weekend, started quickly with Harper dotting down in the fifth minute and Brown adding a seconad score inside the opening quarter.
The hosts got on the board soon after when Heather Cowell scored in the corner and they reduced the deficit to two points at half time when Hannah Duffy crossed the whitewash.
Immediately after the break, Leanne Riley’s superb tap and go, and a host of offloads saw Abbie Ward score to give Quins the lead for the first time.
With time running out Emily Scarratt’s penalty narrowed the score to 17-15 in the favour of Harlequins, and with less than four minutes remaining Davies dotted down after a powerful maul to put Lightning back ahead.
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And, with Quins pushing hard for a winner, Lightning earned a crucial turnover with the clock in the red to seal a stunning win.
With Gerard Mullen’s side faltering, the in-form team in the Premier 15s are now Exeter Chiefs who made it five in a row with a hard-fought win at Sixways.
Susie Appleby’s outfit were ahead in the tenth minute when flanker Kate Zackary scored her sixth try of the season from close range.
That lead was extended from five points to 12 when debutant Niamh Terry marked her first start in perfect fashion, riding the tackle after collecting a cross-field kick to dot down, Gabby Cantorna converting.
Worcester fought back impressively though, Jade Shekells scoring five minutes before the break.
And, amidst the snow, Warriors got to within two points in the second half when Carys Phillips scoring after the home pack had mauled their way over the tryline.
A crucial score from Garnet Mackinder with just four minutes to go gave Exeter breathing space though and they move up to fifth with another victory.
Meanwhile, Bristol bested Sale with a gutsy performance built off of the back of a brilliant first half showing.
An Elinor Snowsill penalty got the hosts on the board but it was Sale who managed the first try when Lauren Delany scored after a laser accurate Katy Daley-McLean pass.
Bears counter punched when scrum-half Lucy Burgess darted through a gap in the Sale defence to score and another try followed immediately through Kayleigh Powell to take a 12-point lead.
In the early stages of the second half Sale put the home side under immense pressure but Bristol didn’t budge, holding the ball up over the tryline when Sharks had looked certain to score.
Bears then delivered the sucker punch, prop Simi Pam scoring a sensational solo try from 60 metres out.
Vicky Irwin snuck over for Sale to set up a tense finish but Bristol’s titanic defensive effort continued as they secured a vital win.