Bristol Bears Women came up short against Wasps Ladies in a physical round four encounter at Shaftesbury Park in the Tyrrells Premier 15s.
The Bears lead 10-5 at the half thanks to a penalty try in the final play. However a try courtesy of replacement Claudia MacDonald sealed victory for Wasps Ladies at Shaftesbury Park.
The hosts got off to the perfect start when they were awarded a penalty inside the Wasps twenty-two with no more than two minutes gone on the clock, which Elinor Snowsill happily sent through the uprights to give Bristol a 3-0 lead.
The frantic opening exchanges continued as from the resulting restart Wasps hit back. They won a penalty at the breakdown before kicking into the corner and bulldozing their way over the tryline via a driving maul with Hannah West touching down over the chalk.
The topsy-turvy nature of the first forty continued as the balance of power then swung in the way of the hosts. Lucy Burgess’ sniping run from the base of the ruck took the Bears within five, but as she looked inside to find support in Clara Nielson the ball went forward mere metres from the line.
Oliver’s side continued to hammer at the door but the Wasps defensive line was not budging and kept the bulldozing carries of Bern, Jefferies and Lillicrap at bay.
With five minutes to go in the half the host thought they had their breakthrough as slick handling set Lauren Smyth away down the wing looking set to score, however, Tova Derk had other ideas as she made fine cover tackle to put Smyth in touch with the tryline beckoning.
However, the hosts got their breakthrough in the final play of the half – with Wasps reduced to fourteen – the pack delivered at scrum-time only five metres out and drove Wasps backwards to force a penalty-try and take a 10-5 lead into the sheds.
At the start of the second period, Wasps cut the deficit to just two points when Rebecca Edwards dispatched a three-pointers in front of the posts.
Wasps’ dominance grew in the second half with the Bears struggling to get a foothold in the game and an infringement at the breakdown saw replacement Lizzie Goulden slot a penalty to put the visitors in the lead 10-11.
With ten minute left on the clock Wasps stretched their lead forcing a turnover before Claudia MacDonald picking a gap in the defence to squeeze through and race away. Goulden added the extra to extend the visitor lead to eight points.
With one last roll of the dice the Bears threw everything they had at Wasps. Attwood’s scything run took the hosts into the twenty-two before a series of pick and goes got the Bears agonisingly close, eventually Leitch was held up over the line.
The scrum was re-set but after the ball went through the hands Wasps’ pressure forced a knock-on, killed off the Bears momentum and sealed a hard fought 10-18 victory.
Photos by JMP