- South Africa win hands England Nations Cup Final spot
- Braces from Gallagher, Peedle and Matthews
England Women Under 20s will face host nation, the USA, in Saturday’s Nations Cup Final after defeating South Africa with a comprehensive 66-7 victory on Wednesday night in Santa Barbara.
England ran in a massive 12 tries with Hannah Gallagher, Georgia Peedle and Alexandra Matthews claiming braces of tries. South Africa, however, became the first team in the tournament to put any points on England with fullback Phindile Mtshali claiming their one and only try.
Now England will face the Eagles on Saturday hoping to repeat their earlier victory over the USA in the tournament which saw England running out 37-0 winners.
England U20s Head Coach Amanda Bennett said: "Naturally we are delighted to be in the Nations Cup final and winning three from three games has generated huge confidence in the squad. We put 66 points on a South African team that quite simply did not give up. They chased and tackled to the final whistle and forced us into several errors, not least tactical mistakes.
"There is as much to be learned from this game as the wins over Canada and the USA. We competed very well at the scrum but still need to show more composure when faced with try scoring opportunities.
"We will prepare for the final against the USA with a more clinical approach to ball retention and use of space. Despite the score lines no game has been easy this year and we will certainly expect the USA to be at full tilt on Saturday.
"There are also a number of selection dilemmas as so many players have put in strong individual performances but, as a coach, this is a great position to be in."
No thorns for the Red Roses' side
In a physical game which England generally dominated the Red Roses showed good discipline and patience to score their 12 tries. It took just two minutes for Gallagher, who continues her run of scoring in every England U20s game this season, to register her first try.
South Africa were penalised with a penalty for holding on and a quick tap penalty by scrum half Charlotte Keane saw her set-up the Saracens flanker to drive over and score. Fly half Emily Scott couldn’t make the conversion.
The Springboks immediately bounced back with a seventh minute try of their own thanks to full back Mtshali which was converted by fly half Mpho Moloto handing South Africa a 7-5 lead after as many minutes.
England, however, reasserted their dominance on 21 minutes with Bristol centre Amy Wilson Hardy making her mark. No. 10 Scott helped set-up the score with a nice pass to Wilson Hardy who flew through South Africa’s defence to score relatively unopposed. This time Scott added the conversion to hand England a 12-7 lead.
No. 8 Poppy Cleall claimed England’s third try with a typical forwards move with saw her crash over the try line after a period of sustained pressure, with Georgia Peedle then adding another try to make the score 22-7. Two further tries for Lucy Demaine and Scott put England into a comfortable 34-7 lead at half time.
After the break South Africa struggled to combat a forceful England, with the tries coming in thick and fast.
London Irish’s Matthews, who had an excellent game coming off the bench, scored within three minutes of being on the pitch. After some more sustained pressure by England Scott made the move and passed the ball out to No. 8 Matthews who stepped inside South Africa’s defence to score.
Rebecca Hughes then added England’s eighth touchdown. A good scrum and then some good handling by the entire England backline saw Hughes score, which was quickly followed by a 60th Fiona Davidson try.
Gallagher’s second try came in the 75th minute when Matthews broke through the midfield. She was tackled but Gallagher was in support and she scored under the posts extending England’s lead to 56-7.
Matthews was then back in the thick of the action with her second touchdown as she picked the ball up from the base of the scrum and broke through a number of tackles to score.
Worcester wing Georgia Peedle had the final word for England with a 79th minute try and her second making the final score 66-7.
Match action from the Nations Cup is available on http://www.ustream.tv/usarugby.
15 Rachel Roberts (Gloucester Reds, Gloucestershire, North), 14 Georgia Peedle (Worcester, Hertfordshire, London & SE), 13 Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol, Sussex, South West), 12 Natasha Jones (Lichfield, Staffordshire, Midlands), 11 Lucy Demaine (Bristol, Devon, South West), 10 Emily Scott (Thurrock, Essex, London & South East), 9 Charlotte Keane (Worcester, South West), 1 Millie Fuggles (Old Albanian Saints, Leicestershire, Midlands), 2 Charlotte Notman (Newquay Hornets (Queen Bees), Cornwall, South West), 3 Sarah George (Bristol, Devon, South West), 4 Ellie Gatlin (Rochford Hundred, Essex, London & South East), 5 Abbie Scott (Keswick, Cumbria,North), 6 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens, Hertfordshire, London & South East), 7 Megan Oaten (Thornbury, Dorset & Wilts, South West), 8 Poppy Cleall (Bristol, Hampshire, South West), Replacements: 16 Emily Kingston ((Gloucester Reds, Gloucestershire, South West), 17 Mica Evans (Exeter Saracens, Devon, South West), 18 Harriet Mills (Lichfield, Staffordshire, Midlands), 19 Alex Matthews (London Irish, Surrey, London & SE), 20 Fiona Davidson (Richmond, Surrey, London & South East), 21 Amber Reed (Bristol, Somerset/Devon, South West), 22 Rebecca Hughes (Bristol, Somerset, South West)
Tries: Gallagher (2), Wilson Hardy, Cleall, Peedle (2), Demaine, E Scott, Matthews (2). Hughes, Davidson
Conversions: E. Scott (3)
Substitutions: Hughes for Roberts (22), Matthews for Cleall (42), Davidson for Keane (45), Evans for George (51), Reed for Scott (51)
England U20s Nations Cup playing schedule
England v Canada (July 15, KO 12am BST) WON 41-0
USA v England (July 18, KO 12am BST) WON 37-0
England v South Africa (July 21, KO 12am BST) WON 66-7
FINAL – England v USA (July 23 12am BST)