- Brace of tries for Fisher, Merchant and Waterman
- Two out of two for England Women
England 68 Italy 5
Reigning RBS 6 Nations champions England demolished Italy at Esher RFC on Saturday, running in eleven tries en route to a 68-5 victory.
Worcester trio Heather Fisher, Katherine Merchant and Danielle Waterman all claimed a brace of tries while there were also touch downs for Margaret Alphonsi, Emily Scarratt, Rowena Burnfield, La Toya Mason and Georgina Roberts.
England Head Coach Gary Street said: “This was a great performance and a gutsy display from Italy. Although we made some changes to the squad, the team came together well. It was also great to see the backs get their chance after a wet forward dominated game against Wales last weekend. After this I will definitely have some selection headaches ahead of our game against France on February 27.”
An early Margaret Alphonsi try handed England the momentum and the lead early on with the flanker powering her way over the right wing after five minutes. McLean missed the conversion but added a penalty moments later and that was when the flood gates open, with England scoring six tries in the opening half by six different players.
Fellow flanker Fisher, who had a storming game, handed England a 13-0 lead after 24 minutes. Merchant had made good space on the left wing, and with Italy losing a player to the sin-bin, England took advantage with a good line-out and drive which saw Fisher power over the line.
Piling on the pressure
Fullback Waterman claimed the first of her two tries just minutes later as England really started to take full control. Some good early work by Number 8 Sarah Hunter, who went close to scoring, saw an England scrum power forward, with Mason and then McLean getting the ball out to Waterman, who cut a great line to score under the posts. McLean added the conversion to take a 20-0 lead.
Next up and it was Lichfield’s Scarratt who scored after a good counter attacking move by England, which saw Waterman, Roberts and Merchant all involved before Scarratt bounded over the try line. McLean again converted.
Winger Merchant, who had been threatening all game, took a neat pass from Alphonsi to score before Richmond lock Burnfield wrapped up the first half with her first ever try for England.
Merchant didn’t have to wait long for her second when a good England scrum saw the ball spun out to the right wing after just 44 minutes, handing England a 44-0 lead.
Scrum half Mason increased England’s lead further with a 48th minute converted try, though Italy showed battling spirit to secure their only try of the match when replacement Chiara Castellarin got on the end of a nice grubber kick which caught England by surprise.
England bounced back immediately though with Scarratt getting the home side into a great position with an impressive break. She couldn’t make the try line but Mason took the ball from the ruck to pop it out to Waterman deep in the corner, who danced her way through the defence to score.
Roberts, playing out of position on the wing, wasn’t going to miss her chance to score with a good 68th minute effort. And that preceded a final try for Fisher, who showed tremendous awareness, skill and power to seal the England victory with an 82nd minute try.