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England Women retain Nations Cup in Canada

14 August 2011

  • England defeat Canada 19-41 in Nations Cup final
  • Tries for Alphonsi (2), Merchant, Richardson, Hunter and Allan

Canada Women 19 England Women 41

England Women's flanker Maggie Alphonsi, who scored a brace in the final of the Nations Cup

Photo: RFU Archive

England Women were crowned Nations Cup champions after a comprehensive 41-19 victory over Canada in Ontario, handing the Red Roses a second title this season after their 6 Nations championship win in March.

Gary Street’s side, who remain unbeaten this season, powered to the victory thanks to a brace of tries from vice-captain Margaret Alphonsi and touch downs from No.8 Sarah Hunter, inside centre Alice Richardson, outside centre Claire Allan and wing Katherine Merchant. Fly half Katy McLean and full back Emily Scarratt also added 11 points from the boot to secure the win.

Head Coach Street said: "This tournament victory sums up exactly why we come to play in tournaments like the Nations Cup. The standard and intensity of the rugby this year has meant we have had to perform to world class level and that is vital as we build towards our autumn international programme.

"The win against Canada showed why it is vital to work on core elements of rugby skills because although Canada was very athletic and powerful, our ability to produce skills under pressure and play winning rugby was paramount. I am delighted that we have won the Nations Cup and so are all the players and staff. This is a great start to what is going to be a challenging but very exciting new season."

The victory also saw England hooker Amy Garnett reach a significant milestone in her career and England Rugby history, with the 35-year-old becoming the first ever female player to win 100 England caps.

Garnett said: "To win 100 caps is just tremendous. I have had a fantastic rugby career with so many memorable moments and playing with some world class athletes. To reach this milestone and cap it with another win in the Nations Cup is fantastic."

England had to work hard for the victory with the second half proving decisive as the tourists racked up 24 points to secure the tournament victory.

England put the first points on the board with Lichfield No.15 Scarratt adding a sixth minute penalty. Canada, nevertheless, fought back hard and Andrea Burk added an eight minute penalty to draw the scores level.

England Women's wing Kat Merchant on the run

Photo: RFU Archive

After 16 minutes scrum to Canada was broken down twice before England were given the head and feed. Captain McLean made a good break and flanker Alphonsi, placed in an open position and in support, ran through the Canadian defence to get the first try. Scarratt easily stroked over the conversion to give England a 10-3 lead.

Merchant then eased England into a 15-3 lead when McLean made another great break from a scrum. With Merchant in support the flying wing outpaced three Canadians to score in the corner. Scarratt had a tricky kick to convert in the corner but she did handing England a 17-3 lead.

Canada returned the fire with some brilliant footwork, as Jen Kish bypassed several defenders to score their first try. That wasn’t converted but the hosts managed to reduce England’s lead to 17-11 with a 40th minute penalty.

After the break England underlined why they are ranked second in the world as they overwhelmed Canada, showing real strength all over the park. Again Merchant made a good break, and Alphonsi was in support to take the pass. The flanker was taken down in the tackle but England retained possession and recycled the ball out to Richardson who broke through the middle of Canada’s defence to score down the wing and in the corner. Scarratt was unable to add the conversion but England still had an 11 point advantage.

Canada hit back with their second penalty with Phillips adding the points, but England maintained their momentum and were duly rewarded with No. 8 Hunter powering over the try line from a good England scrum. Scarratt again converted.

On 68 minutes Allan added England’s fifth try as England turned over Canada in the scrum. England recycled the ball well through to Allan in midfield and after performing a great side-step the Richmond centre touched down to score. Scarratt couldn’t add the conversion this time but England were firmly in control with a 14-34 lead.

Canada’s spirits never dampen though and a valiant effort from their backline saw inside centre Mandy Marchak bag a last minute try, though it was England who had the final say with Alphonsi securing her brace of tries on the stroke of full time as she stole the ball from a Canadian line out and burst through to score. With McLean this time adding the conversion England secured the 41-19 victory and the Nations Cup crown for a fourth successive tournament.

In the Nations Cup third and fourth place play-off the USA were victorious defeating South Africa 29-9.

England Women team

15 Emily  Scarratt (Lichfield), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Claire Allan (Richmond), 12 Alice Richardson (Richmond), 11 Kay Wilson (Richmond), 10 Katy McLean (C) (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 1 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 2 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 5 Rowena  Burnfield (Richmond), 6 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (VC) (Saracens), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield).

Replacements: 16 Vicky Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 18 Jenny Brightmore (Worcester), 19 Marlie Packer (Bristol), 20  Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), 21 Sarah McKenna (Old Albanians Saints), 22 Michaela Staniford (Wasps).

Tries: Alphonsi (2), Merchant, Richardson, Hunter, Allan

Conversions: Scarratt (3), McLean

Penalties: Scarratt

Substitutions: Clark for Purdy (48), Staniford for Wilson (54), Packer for Burnfield (60), Fleetwood for Garnett (60), Hunt for Mason (60), Brightmore for Hunter (66), McKenna for Richardson (68).

England Nations Cup fixtures and results

August 2: USA v England KO 1130pm, WON 15-11

August 5: South Africa v England KO 1030pm, WON 46-8

August 9: Canada v England KO 1130pm, WON 22-10

August 13: Nations Cup Final, Canada v England, WON 19-41