Tyrrells Premier 15s: five things we learned

Vicky Fleetwood in action for reigning champions Saracens. Credit: Marek Dorcik

The Tyrrells Premier 15s returned for its 2019/20 edition this weekend and we are certainly not short of talking points. Here are five things we learned:

Ruthless Harlequins send out statement of intent

If there were any questions about how determined Rachael Burford’s Harlequins were to go one step further and win the Tyrrells Premier 15s this season, they were answered in unequivocally emphatic fashion at Twickenham Stoop.

Quins racked up a staggering 101 unanswered points against a hapless Richmond at their new home, as doubles from the triumvirate of Chloe Rollie, Emily Scott and Shaunagh Brown secured local bragging rights to send Hannah Field’s side home despondent.

Whether or not the result says more Richmond’s acute deficiencies or Quins’ prowess remains yet to be seen, but there’s no question that a century of points on the opening day sends out a resounding message to the rest of the competition.

Lloyd delivers stunning display for Loughborough

Individual performance of the weekend came from the Midlands, as Loughborough Lightning wing Rhona Lloyd stole the limelight by scoring a clinical hat-trick to help topple Darlington Mowden Park.

Lloyd’s heroics ensured Lightning – who lost against Harlequins in last season’s semi-finals – were able to secure a 27-12 triumph, and her pace and finishing ability will surely send shivers down Premier 15s defenders’ spines after an unerring display on the opening day.

Lloyd embodies everything a modern winger needs to prosper, combining speed, athleticism and directness in a performance Loughborough fans hope she can build on as the new season progresses.

Champions Saracens continue from where they left off

Sarah McKenna’s reigning champions Saracens battled to a hard-fought 35-22 triumph over Bristol Bears to kick-off their title defence in style.

While they will be disappointed to have conceded so many points against their spirited visitors, Sarries ran in a total of six tries in a performance where they nevertheless demonstrated their title-retaining credentials.

However, with Harlequins looking so imposing in their 2019-20 bow, McKenna’s players will need to be ready to up their game as they head into what looks to be the most competitive Premier 15s season to date.

Wasps off to strong start

It was a rocky start for new Worcester Warriors captain Lyndsay O’Donnell as her team succumbed to a polished Wasps performance to lose 47-10.

Wasps, who lost in the play-offs to eventual champions Saracens last season, will be eager to learn from their mistakes this campaign and launch an attempt to topple Sarries' hegemony.

And they started their 2019-20 odyssey in style, as a Cliodhna Maloney brace helped them to a decisive and confidence-fuelling victory.

Powell-Hughes stars are Gloucester-Hartpury secure perfect start

Natasha Hunt’s Gloucester-Hartpury are another side who will be desperate to enhance their performance levels from last season, narrowly missing out on a play-off place after finishing fifth.

And they already look an improved outfit this term, as a Shona Powell-Hughes double helped guide them to a comprehensive 45-7 away win at Firwood Waterloo.

While Rachael Thomas’ side may not constitute one of the strongest teams in the division – they finished ninth last year – Hunt and her players will know they can only beat what is in front of them, and they did that in style.