- England defeat Italy in opener
- Wilson try proves decisive
England A 5 Italy A 0
England Women A opened their European Trophy campaign with a 5-0 victory over Italy in Coruna, Spain today on Saturday.
England, playing in Pool B, had to thank full back Kay Wilson for their one and only try of the game, though they did miss many more opportunities than that in the first half.
England now head into the second round of the pool games on Monday playing unknown side the Netherlands, kick off 3pm.
Wilson’s crucial score came early on with the Richmond back taking the points after just five minutes. A good drive by the forwards allowed England to move the ball wide. Wasps wing Michaela Staniford, making her return from injury, made a great break before offloading to Georgina Roberts. England’s ball was slowed down, but some good work at a ruck again saw the ball recycled through Sarah McKenna, Kim Oliver and then Fran Matthews. Matthews spotted a gap, and drew in Italy’s defence before offloading to Wilson who then ran in on the wing from 22 metres out. McKenna could not make the extras.
England kept the pressure on Italy in the next 20 minutes, with Staniford again making a good break to setup Roberts but she knocked on to give Italy some breathing space.
Flanker Jane Leonard also had her chance, supporting a break from McKenna, but as she got into Italy’s 22 the Army and Wasps player spilled the ball in the tackle to let Italy off the hook.
England’s forwards also came close to scoring from a well worked line-out catch and drive but Italy’s defence held firm to keep England out.
With Italy surviving the early barrage of attack and keeping England at bay the Italians picked up their game, and although they didn’t challenge England’s try-line until late on in the second half they made the Red Roses work hard for their opportunities.
England, however, did dominate possession and territory for much of the game but in the second half started giving away penalties and Italy fought back. Just like Italy, England’s defence held firm though with Roberts and Matthews at the heart of action while some good work by England’s back row of Sarah Hunter, Leonard and Marlie Packer proved crucial in this tight game.
England A Head Coach Mike Barnett said: “We were generally in control for most of the game. Our one try was certainly a good one with the ball moved through several phases of play. We had more chances and should have made the most of them but Italy were tough opponents and had a lot of experience in their side. Although there was only one score in it we were reasonably comfortable throughout.
"This was a tough opener as we’d expected. It was a physical game too and we were definitely tested. But that is exactly what we wanted in our first game. We now need to keep moving forward and if we do that then we will be in good shape by the end of the week when the tournament gets really serious."
15 Kay Wilson (Richmond)
14 Michaela Staniford (Wasps)
13 Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park)
12 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol)
11 Francesca Matthews (Richmond)
10 Sarah McKenna (Old Albanians)
9 Georgina Rozario (Lichfield)
1 Rosemarie Crowley (C) (Lichfield)
2 Olivia Poore (Wasps)
3 Charlotte Male (Bristol)
4 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond)
5 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park)
6 Marlie Packer (Bristol)
7 Jane Leonard (Wasps)
8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield)
16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)
17 Monica Lewinska (Bristol)
18 Stacey Maguire (Lichfield)
19 Isobel Noel Smith (Bristol)
20 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield)
21 Amber Reed (Bristol)
22 Natasha Jones (Lichfield)
Substitutions: Lewinska for Male (40), Hunt for Wilson (46), Jones for McKenna (55), Fleetwood for Poore (60), Noel Smith for Packer (69)
Saturday April 30th - Italy v England, KO 3pm BST, WON 5-0
Monday May 2nd – Netherlands v England, KO 3pm BST
Wednesday May 4th – Russia v England, KO 4pm BST
Saturday May 7th – Finals Day, KO TBC