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England Women undone by France in Marseille

02 November 2011

  • England Women defeated despite Lydia Thompson try
  • England look to bounce back in Test match against France on Saturday

France 14 England 5

England Women scrum down against France in Marseille

Photo: Getty Images

England Women suffered a 14-5 defeat against France in an uncapped friendly match in Marseille, despite taking the lead through a Lydia Thompson try in the second half.

At a rain soaked Jean Bouin Stadium, the England team – containing five uncapped players in the starting line-up and two on the bench – crossed for one try but France took the honours with one converted try and a penalty try.

The conditions took their toll on the match with both sides struggling to find any firm footing and ball handling was tricky in the slippery conditions. The score was telling in the first half with no score at the break.

After the restart though England asserted their authority and started to dominate territory and their efforts were rewarded with Lydia Thompson going over for a try.

But England were undone with France taking their first try on 63 minutes and then they made the most of the sin-binning of Kay Wilson in the dying stages by adding a penalty try.

England Head Coach Gary Street said: "This game provided us with the opportunity to find out a lot about our new, young players. We always knew it was going to be a tough game with so little preparation time and such a young squad. The difficult pitch conditions didn’t help either but that was the same for both sides and to be honest France deserved to win this game.

"We now go into Saturday’s capped test match with a lot more information about our players and we have the luxury of having a couple of days on our side before being able to pick our strongest team that we have available."

Kicking off in torrential rain, and on a rain soaked pitch, both France and England struggled to find any rhythm initially. England, however, were the side under pressure though with France generally having much of the territory for the first half.

France came close to scoring after 12 minutes with full back Jessy Tremouliere executing a good chip deep into England’s 22 but fly half Ceri Large covered to keep England level.

England Women's captain Sarah Hunter leads her side out to face France in Marseille

Photo: Getty Images

England too had their chances with captain and No.8 Sarah Hunter at the heart of the action, while backs Michaela Staniford and Kim Oliver were also in the thick of it, but the visitors could not make any impression on the scoreboard.

Street rang the changes for England at half time with six changes, giving all of England’s uncapped players their first taste of senior international rugby.

After the break France came close to breaking the duck with wing Dsioni Aguerre making a nice break on the left wing and crossing, but the score was disallowed.

England, however, came back fighting and some good work by scrum half Rose Jay at a French scrum saw her put her opposite number under pressure and Harriet Millar-Mills picked up to get the ball out to England’s backs. England couldn’t break through France’s strong defence so they recycled the ball out to the left wing, where French numbers were low, and Thompson was clear to break through and score. Large could not add the conversion.

On 49 minutes France had their chance to hit back with a penalty but fly half Aurelie Bailon missed. But it proved insignificant with lock Assa Koita making up the difference and more with an important try for France thanks to a well worked line out, catch and drive. With Tremouliere converting France took the lead 7-5.

Matters worsen for England four minutes later when France chipped ahead a loose ball deep into England’s 22. Full back Wilson scrambled back to try and save the score but she was penalised for it and sent to the sin-bin.

France had the one person advantage and made the most of it with some strong line out and scrums near to England’s try line immediately after. In the end England were penalised for constant infringements as France battered England’s try line. They were duly awarded a penalty try which Tremouliere converted to seal France's victory.

England Women v France Women Teams

England: 15 Kay Wilson (Bristol), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Michaela Staniford (Wasps), 12 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol), 11 Lydia Thompson (Worcester), 10 Ceri Large  (Worcester), 9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Amy Turner (Richmond), 3 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 4 Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield), 5 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 6 Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), 7 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield).

Replacements: 16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17 Laura Keates (Worcester), 18        Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 19 Isobel Noel-Smith (Bristol), 20 Rose Jay (Lichfield), 21 Sarah McKenna (Wasps), 22 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield).

Tries: Thompson (50)

Substitutions: Fleetwood for Turner, Keates for Clark, Taylor for Hunter, Noel-Smith for Matthews, McKenna for Oliver, Jay for Hunt (all HT).

France: 15 Tremouliere Jessy, 14 Poirot Anaïs, 13 Di Muzio Laura, 12 Anastassiadis Audrey, 11 Aguerre Dioni, 10 Bailon Aurelie, 9 Troncy Jennifer (c), 1 Ezanno Helene, 2 Mignot Gaëlle, 3 Portaries Elodie, 4 Mert Elodie, 5 Koïta Assa, 6 Canal Claire, 7 Andre Manon, 8 Forlani audrey.

Replacements: 16 Arricastre Lise, 17 dupont Emeline, 18 Bouisset Cyrielle, 19 Rabier Sandra, 20 Pelle Chloe, 21 Mayans Marjorie, 22 Yahe Marie Alice

Tries: Koita (63), Penalty try (79)

Conversions: Tremouliere

Referee:  Eric Lavit

Assistant Referees: Hugo Joly & Frederic Saunier

England Women Autumn International Series

Nov 2: France v England, Jean Bouin Stadium, Marseille – L 14-5
Nov 5: France v England, Pierre de Coubertin Stadium at Chateaurenard, KO 2pm GMT
Nov 26: England v New Zealand, Twickenham Stadium, KO 5pm
Nov 29: England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, KO 7pm
Dec 3: England v New Zealand, Esher RFC, 2pm

Tickets for the first match against New Zealand at Twickenham on November 26 are available via and group booking are available from the RFU by calling 0871 22 22 017, option 6. Prices range from £65 to £35. Junior tickets cost just £15.

Tickets for the international tests at Esher RFC on November 29 and December 3 will be available on the gate and cost £10 for adults and £5 for juniors.