December 14th, 2008
England A 20 Italy 0
England A Women recorded their first win of the season on Sunday at London Welsh RFC with an impressive four-try victory.
Mike Barnett's side, who will also play Spain in February, France A and the Nomads in March, took on the RBS 6 Nations side in convincing style and denied them any chance of crossing England's line.
Wasps wing Michaela Staniford picked up a brace of tries, including England's first on just six minutes. The score came after good ball from a line-out just ten metres from Italy's line saw Staniford gather and charge over the line. Captain Clare Purdy didn't convert.
Worcester's Gemma Sharples followed up Staniford's efforts 20 minutes later when patience by England saw their efforts pay off. Some good ball from the breakdown saw the ball recycled out-wide with flanker Sharples running in. Lichfield's Roz Crowley couldn't convert.
England then handed themselves a 15-0 lead at half-time thanks to Staniford's second touchdown. The score came after England responded to some fierce pressure by Italy, but the hosts again showed patience to break through and spin the ball out-wide and a strong run by Staniford ensured the comfortable lead at the break.
After the restart, England kept the momentum going by adding their fourth try straight after the kick-off with Liz Reilly going over in the corner. Crowley couldn't convert and Italy underlined their doggedness by refusing to give up. In fact they kept England at bay for the remainder of the match, and were unlucky not to break their own duck on 57 minutes with a missed penalty.
England A Head Coach Barnett said: "This was a good start to our season. Having a fixture before Christmas is very important as it means we get to see the players in action before we get into the thick of the season, and we can get some of the organisational stuff out of the way.
"We had seven youngsters out on the pitch today and they all did a good job. We started the game well, but Italy certainly didn't want to give up. We made mistakes too and there is a lot to work on, but this is a good start to the new season."
1 Claire Purdy (Wasps) C, 2 Sam Reeves (Worcester), 3 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 4 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 5 Sara Anastasi (Richmond), 6 Lois Moulding (Lichfield), 7 Gemma Sharples (Worcester), 8 Sarah Beale (Lichfield), 9 Sarah Guest (Worcester), 10 Danni Knight (Lichfield), 11 Elizabeth Riley (Wasps), 12 Tina Lee (Bristol), 13 Clare Allan (Saracens), 14 Michaela Staniford (Wasps), 15 Vicky Massarella (Saracens). Replacements: 16 Ollie Poore (Lichfield), 17 Monica Lewinska (Bristol), 18 Jenny Brightmore (Loughborough), 19 Isabelle Noel-Smith (Bath), 20 Latoya Mason (Wasps), 21 Sarah McKenna (Old Albanian Saints), 22 Abi Chamberlain (Worcester)
Tries: Staniford (2), Sharples, Riley
Substitutions: Mason on for Guest (43), Noel Smith on for Sharples (52), Brightmore for Burnfield, McKenna for Knight (55), Chamberlain for Allan (64), Poore for Reeves (64), Lewinska for Crowley (64).
Half-time score: England A 20 Italy 0
Referee: Andi Ttofa
Assistant Referees: Ali Wood and Joan Marsh