- Six new caps in England side
- Tries for debutants Thompson, Laybourn, Tuson & Cattell
England Women opened their FIRA-AER European Cup campaign with an impressive 11-try, 61-0 victory over Spain in Rovereto, Italy, today.
Fielding four uncapped players in the starting line-up and a further two on the bench, England played like a tried and tested outfit and slammed the door shut on their opponents for much of the game.
Debutants Lydia Thompson and Ruth Laybourn ran in a hat-trick of tries each while fellow newcomers Sally Tuson and Lauren Cattell also crossed. There were also tries for centre Kim Oliver, on her 40th cap, flanker Marlie Packer and skipper Sarah Hunter.
Playing in near 30 degree heat, England made their mark early and gave Spain a taste of what was to come with a try in the opening two minutes. Bristol’s Tuson was the scorer after some quick ball from a ruck in the mid-field saw it recycled out to the centre and she scored with ease.
Six minutes later and Darlington Mowden Park Sharks wing Laybourn benefitted from a nicely floated pass from fly-half Ceri Large to score in the right corner.
Bristol centre Oliver, although missing the two earlier conversions, then handed England a 15-0 lead with England’s third try. A quick tap penalty in Spain’s 22 saw Large spot a gap and make the space before offloading to Oliver. This time Large added the conversion.
Worcester wing Thompson, who has played Sevens for England previously, then made a serious dent on the scoreboard running in two tries in the space of four minutes. The first touchdown saw Packer make a good turn-over and get the ball out to Tuson who then offloaded to Thompson and she charged in to score.
Thompson’s second saw England make the most of Spain’s errors when they lost possession and Large picked up and spun it out wide to the pacey Thompson to score.
Two more tries came England’s way before the break with Packer this time adding to the tally and Thompson bagged her hat-trick after a dominant England scrum saw the ball spun out-wide and she ran in with ease, making the score 39-0 at half-time.
One way traffic
Although it was a scrappier second half for England the one way traffic did continue with Spain having little response to their rivals’ dominance.
A great break by Danielle Waterman, playing in her first game since the autumn international series against New Zealand, saw the fullback make a tremendous break on the half-way line. Drawing in the defenders Waterman then offloaded to skipper Hunter who finished off the move. Oliver converted to make the score 46-0.
England then made a raft of changes, making all seven substitutions in the space of six minutes, but the change in personnel did not upset the tourists and Laybourn was soon back on the score sheet for her second touchdown.
On 60 minutes, England’s backs again had the ball in hand and took it through a series of phases to make the space to set Laybourn loose and score out-wide.
Spain held England at bay for the next 15 minutes but couldn’t get close to crossing England’s line and once again the ever present Laybourn was rubbing salt in their wounds with her third, and England’s tenth try of the afternoon. Once again, England’s pack was in fine form and some nice clean ball got the ball out to the backs, who set Laybourn loose to score.
Chesham’s Lauren Cattell, an England Under 20s international who had just turned 18, then had the final word for England running in a 78th minute try after some nice work by England’s pack and then scrum-half Fiona Davidson.
Graham Smith, England’s Head Coach for this tour, said: “This was a really pleasing result. Considering the young players we have brought to Italy, with six of them making their debuts today, we were honestly unsure about how we would fair. However, the players have come together so well and played like a team who have been together for some time.
“All our new caps were impressive. They had a nervous start but soon got into it and made a real impression. Lydia, Ruth, Sally and Lauren all scored on their debuts, which is no mean feat, while Kate Newton was immense in the pack. Fiona Davidson also made an impression when she came on. Our established players also really stepped up, while it was great to see Danielle Waterman, back at her best again, despite this being her first game back in five months.
“Spain were a big and powerful side today and they ran hard at us. They didn’t have many opportunities and that was because our scrummage functioned so well and we were able to constantly get good ball out to our backs. This is a great start to the tournament, and we are now looking forward to our next game against Italy on Tuesday.”
15. Danielle Waterman (Worcester), 14. Lydia Thompson (Worcester), 13. Sally Tuson (Bristol), 12.Kim Oliver (Bristol), 11. Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 10. Ceri Large (Worcester), 9.Georgina Rozario (Lichfield), 1. Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2.Emma Croker (Richmond), 3.Kate Newton (Bristol), 4. Emily Braund (Lichfield), 5.Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 6.Sarah Hunter (Captain) (Lichfield), 7.Marlie Packer (Bristol), 8.Harriet Millar Mills (Lichfield). Replacements: 16. Vicky Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17. Laura Keates (Worcester), 18 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 19. Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 20.Gemma Sharples (Worcester), 21. Fiona Davidson (Richmond), 22. Lauren Cattell (Chesham).
Tries: Tuson, Laybourn (3), Oliver, Thompson (3), Packer, Hunter, Cattell
Conversions: Large, Oliver (2)
Substitutions: Fleetwood for Croker, Keates for Clark, Crowley for Newton, Burnfield for Taylor, Sharples for Packer (all 56mins), Davidson for Rozario, Cattell for Waterman (all 62).
England Women’s European Cup Schedule
Spain v England, May 12, WON 61-0
Italy v England, May 15, KO 5pm BST
France v England, May 19, KO 630pm