Coronavirus once again stopped a full slate of fixtures being completed in the Premier 15s, with Sale Sharks against Gloucester-Hartpury falling victim this week.
In the action that did take place, a much-changed Bristol Bears outfit hosted an in-form Loughborough Lightning side that had registered the maximum points available from the first two rounds.
Both sides had a number of absentees away on international duty, raising the question which side had better strength in depth?
Loughborough opened the scoring after a driving maul sent Lark Davis over the whitewash. A second first-half try soon followed with Emma Hardy finishing in the corner.
Bristol fought back into the match, stopping Loughborough from registering another point. However, the defence of Lightning also held firm, with Bristol only crossing for their first try of the match with minutes to go.
It was too little, too late, however, meaning that Loughborough maintained their winning start to the campaign with the 12-5 victory.
Elsewhere, Worcester Warriors had the opportunity to assert themselves against a Wasps side without their Irish international contingent. England wing Lydia Thompson returned to the Worcester line-up but that did not stop Wasps from coming out on top 22-7. After a cagey and close-fought first-half, Wasps pulled away after the break with Ellie Kildunne’s spectacular score the highlight of the match.
The former England Sevens player has made quite an impact for Wasps already this season, having also scored a superb solo try last week. Worcester will be disappointed to have lost at home following a promising first two matches while Wasps will be delighted to have recorded their first win of this season.
Harlequins continued their dominant start to the campaign, overcoming a plucky Exeter side still getting to grips with the competition. In blustery conditions, Quins once again managed a bonus-point victory.
On Shaunagh Brown’s 50th appearance for the club, she crossed for one of Harlequins’ five tries. Also on the scoresheet was Langi Tuima, who scored her first try for Harlequins after a Heather Cowell pass put her away in space.
Exeter have been an impressive addition to the Premier 15s and refused to give up. The Chiefs scored two tries through Olivia DeMarchant and Kayleigh Armstrong after a period of sustained pressure. The final score was 33-14 to Harlequins, who moved to maximum points after three matches.
In the final match of the round, Saracens punished DMP Sharks, running in 72 unanswered points. Tamara Taylor scored the first try of the afternoon for Saracens, with another three added before the break. But it was after half-time that the quality gap really began to show, with fifty points added.
It was a memorable match for winger Deborah Fleming who scored two tries on her first start since returning to Saracens. Rocky Clark also registered a brace in Saracens’ third successive bonus-point win.
After three rounds of action, Harlequins, Loughborough and Saracens are the only teams to have won all their fixtures. Quins top table on points difference.