- England defeat France to maintain unbeaten 2011 6 Nations record
- Second half tries for skipper Katy McLean and Amy Garnett
England Women 16 France Women 3
England Women remain on track to retain their 6 Nations title after a hard fought 16-3 victory over France at Worcester’s Sixways Stadium.
The game might not have been the performance England Head Coach Gary Street was looking for but certainly the result ticked the right box as England look to secure a sixth successive title and consecutive Grand Slam.
Tries for hooker Amy Garnett and skipper Katy McLean sealed the victory but England had to be patient with both scores coming in the last quarter of the game. The reigning champions controlled much of the game, but struggled to turn possession into points.
Street, whose side is now the only unbeaten team in the tournament, said: "We were very sporadic today and we managed to squander quite a few opportunities. It was frustrating because we got ourselves into some good positions but we missed the try scoring opportunities.
"We lacked precision at times and that was disappointing. There’s lots for us to work on but the important thing is that we are still on track. We have now got a good focus for our game against Scotland and we know where the improvements need to be made."
Captain McLean threatened from the start
England looked dangerous from the off and after just two minutes skipper McLean made a great break, catching France on the hop, but the visitors swarmed around England and averted the danger
Worcester’s Danielle Waterman and Lichfield’s Emily Scarratt also came close in the opening quarter but France held firm while England paid for their errors in the final stages of their attacking moves.
France had the first opportunity to put points on the board with a penalty but inside centre Sandrine Agricole couldn’t convert. A second attempt, with fly half Nadge Casenave taking over the kicking duties, was successful and France took a 3-0 lead after 26 minutes.
McLean too had her chance at goal, missing a 35th minute effort but she made amends to equalise just minutes into injury time.
The Darlington Mowden Park Sharks No.10 was back in action soon after the restart with a 49th minute shot at goal to give England took a 6-3 lead.
England rang the changes and replacements Garnett, Rachael Burford and Catherine Spence made an immediate impression. Burford came close to scoring, but again France’s defence held firm. Again, the chances were there for England but the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup finalists couldn’t finish off the opportunities.
England’s continuous pressure finally paid off with Saracens’ hooker Garnett picking up from the back of a ruck and barging her way over the try line. McLean missed the penalty but England led 11-3 after 72 minutes.
McLean then rounded off proceedings for England with an injury time try. A ruck in midfield saw England spin the ball out to the right wing and McLean found space to score the final touchdown. Again, she couldn’t make the conversion but 16-3 was enough to seal the victory.
England Women v France Women teams
England: 15 Danielle Waterman (Worcester), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 12 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol), 11 Francesca Matthews (Richmond), 10 Katy Mclean (c) (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Emma Croker (Richmond), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Heather Fisher (Worcester), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (vc) (Saracens), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield).
Replacements: 22 Georgina Roberts for Matthews (8, blood, reversed 20), 21 Rachael Burford for Oliver (HT), 16 Amy Garnett for Croker (50), 19 Catherine Spencer for Fisher (57), 18 Rowena Burnfield for McGilchrist (64), 17 Rosemarie Crowley for Hemming (62).
Tries: Garnett, McLean
Penalties: McLean (2)
France: 15 Ladagnous, 14 Aguerre, 13 Poublan, 12 Agricole, 11 Ramkilaoun, 10 Casenave, 9 Yahe (c), 1 Ezanno, 2 Mignot, 3 Chobet, 4 De Nadaï, 5 Bouisset, 6 Djossouvi , 8 Ba, 7 Hebel.
Replacements: 16 Noguera, 17 Barthelemy, 18 Rabier, 19 Andre, 20 Troncy, 21 Sobolak, 22 Heguy.
Referee: Wayne Davies
Assistant Referees: Brian Ravenhill & Debbie Innes
England’s 6 Nations Fixtures
Wales v England: Feb 6, Cross Keys RFC – WON 19-0
England v Italy: Feb 12, Esher RFC – WON 68-5
England v France: Feb 27, Worcester RFC – WON 16-3
*England v Scotland: March 13, Twickenham Stadium – KO 5.15pm
Ireland v England: March 18, Ashbourne RFC – KO 7.30pm
*Free entry to Twickenham Stadium after men’s Calcutta Cup clash and live on BBC Red Button (not inc. Freeview).