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Double final delight in France and England

Marlie Packer scores for England

The two premier competitions in European women’s rugby reach their conclusion this weekend as England’s Premier 15s and France’s Elite 1 host two tantalising finals.

In England, Sixways Stadium will welcome two-time champions Saracens as they take on first-time finalists Exeter Chiefs.

Across the Channel, Stade Toulousain will be hoping for a first title, while Blagnac are gunning for a first top-division trophy since 1993.

Saracens topped the Premier 15s table losing twice all season, but one was a hefty 54-12 defeat to Friday’s opponents the Chiefs.

They bounced back from that defeat to overcome arch-rivals Harlequins 30-10 in the semi-finals, and it was their Red Roses who starred.

England’s Poppy Cleall, Marlie Packer and May Campbell were the four try scorers for Saracens with their international teammates Jess Breach and Amy Cokayne on the scoresheet for Quins.

The Sarries trio will look to have the same impact on Friday having been named in an unchanged XV by Alex Austerberry.

Hannah Botterman, Vicky Fleetwood, Sarah McKenna and Holly Aitchison also feature to ensure that Saracens have plenty of title-winning experience with all having won the TikTok Women’s Six Nations with England.

Exeter Chiefs have already claimed silverware this year winning the inaugural Allianz Cup as they defeated Harlequins 57-12 in April.

Their victory was spearheaded by their American stars Hope Rogers and Kate Zackary but there are several Six Nations players in their side for the showpiece.

England’s Flo Robinson starts at scrum-half for the Chiefs, with Ireland captain Nichola Fryday packing down alongside Red Rose Poppy Leitch and the Netherlands’ Linde van der Velden, which gives a taste of the international flavour that categorises this Exeter side.

The Chiefs defeated Bristol Bears in their first-ever play-off game, having only joined the league in 2020 and head north to Worcester the underdogs against serial winners Saracens.

The Elite 1 also sees a side with past winning experience going up against a team who have yet to taste glory in France’s top division.

Blagnac’s two titles came back in the early ‘90s when known as Saint-Orens, with four runners-up finishes following their 1993 triumph, most recently last season.

They got revenge over last year’s winners ASM Romagnat with France international Melissande Llorens on the scoresheet.

Toulouse advanced to the final with a 31-12 victory over Stade Bordelais with TikTok Women’s Six Nations Player of the Championship Laure Sansus scoring Toulouse’s third try which was converted by Les Bleues teammate Pauline Bourdon.

Lea Murie and Céline Ferer crossed later in the second half to sew up the victory and set up a derby match to decide the league winners on Saturday in Grenoble.