By Will Castle

Saracens fell victim to a sensational Bristol Bears comeback as they were denied a place in the Premiership Women’s Rugby Final on Sunday.

The three-time champions found themselves 14-0 up after dominating the opening stages but saw their lead slip away after the interval - with Bears prop Lark Atkin-Davies scoring twice to flip the game on its head.

Sarries restored their lead by virtue of a penalty try, but it would be Atkin-Davies' hat-trick try that proved pivotal, giving the visitors a lead they wouldn't lose for the remainder of the contest as they came out 29-21 victors.

With Saracens suffering semi-final agony for a second consecutive season, co-captain Marlie Packer was left to rue missed opportunities as they failed to kill the game off when they had the chance.

“You win some, you lose some and today we just weren’t up to it,” she said. “We had ample opportunities in that first half that we didn’t execute, we didn’t come out of their 22 with points.

“After that final whistle, it is really tough. This is the business end of the season, this is where every player wants to be playing their rugby, and we just fell short today."

Packer is eager to ensure that Sunday’s result doesn’t define what has been a fruitful season, with Sarries having already lifted silverware this term as Allianz Cup winners.

“This doesn’t define us as a team and just because we didn’t win that semi-final doesn’t mean we didn’t have an awesome season,” the England captain added.

“It’s probably been one of the best seasons for Saracens on and off the pitch connection-wise.

“I think today will be bottled up and taken into next year’s PWR season - in one that we will hopefully be in the same place, the semi-finals, but in a different scenario where we come out on top.”

Bears head coach Dave Ward was comparatively overjoyed by his side's performance, overcoming the game’s heavy favourites to book their place in a first-ever league final for the club across both its men’s and women’s teams.

“We’ve talked about this moment a long time as a squad and as players,” Ward says.

“We’ve put a hell of a lot of hard work into these last three years.

“I just gave credit to the full squad at the end of the game, but there’s 45 people that helped us prepare this week, it wasn’t just the 23 out there, and they don’t always get the credit they deserve. 

“But the way we trained for the last week has been a credit to those guys and that is what led to that performance.”