While the weekend’s offering of men’s Six Nations action provided drama aplenty, there were numerous thrills and spills among five scintillating Premier 15s clashes on Saturday.
Saracens maintained their lead at the top of the ranks thanks to a hard-fought 34-21 win over in-form Exeter Chiefs, with the two-time champions successfully avenging their January defeat.
A brace of tries from American back-rower Rachel Johnson and a score from Japanese prop Sachiko Kato helped the Chiefs to a 21-10 lead at half-time, but Lotte Clapp, Vicky Fleetwood and May Campbell all crossed for the hosts after the break to complete a memorable comeback.
Saracens fly-half Zoe Harrison said: “We knew it was going to be tough out there, so I’m really glad we managed to pull it back in the end.
“I wouldn’t say we were complacent in the first half at all - we take each game as it comes. We knew we needed to cut out the penalties if we were going to win the game - that got hammered home at half-time - and thankfully we did that.”
After seeing her side’s seven-game winning run come to an end, Exeter head coach Susie Appleby said: “There were probably 25 minutes in the first half where we were really dominant.
“We were moving the ball really well, clearing the rucks well and getting some fast ball. Second-half inaccuracies let us down and let them back in. They’re a good side at the end of the day.”
Saracens’ London rivals Harlequins kept up the heat on the league leaders with a thumping 62-7 win at Bristol Bears, with a Leanne Riley double inspiring a comfortable afternoon for the visitors at Shaftesbury Park.
Chloe Edwards, Jess Breach, Amy Cokayne, Abbie Ward, Bethan Dainton, Heather Cowell and a penalty try also contributed to the heavy scoreline, which leaves Quins six points behind Saracens at the top of the table, with the two sides locking horns in a mouth-watering clash next weekend.
Quins fly-half Ellie Green said: “We knew Bristol are a good side, but we really wanted to pile on the pressure as quickly as we could. We didn’t have a great start to the year, but we’re crawling it back slowly and today we proved how good we can be.”
Elsewhere, fourth-placed Wasps reduced the gap behind Loughborough Lightning in third to two points thanks to a 36-14 win in a fierce battle between the two teams.
Amy Wilson-Hardy, Cliodhna Moloney, Abby Dow (2), Celia Quansah and Sadia Kabeya all notched tries for the Black and Gold, who returned to winning ways following their home defeat to Exeter at the start of March.
Meanwhile, Gloucester-Hartpury followed up their heavy win over DMP Durham Sharks last time out with a dramatic 28-24 victory over Worcester Warriors, with Robyn Lock’s last-gasp score snatching the points at the death.
And the DMP Durham Sharks remain at the foot of the table thanks to a 31-3 defeat away at Sale Sharks, with Lisa Neumann contributing two tries for the hosts.