- England run in six tries against hosts Italy
- France next up in final European Cup game
Italy Women 8 England Women 32
Photo: RFU Archive
England Women are on course to defend their European Cup crown after a second successive victory, this time against Italy, which saw Graham Smith’s side run in six tries against a determined Italian outfit in Rovereto, Italy.
Bristol’s Sally Tuson, on just her second cap, ran in a brace of tries, while Harriet Millar-Mills, Lydia Thompson, another new cap, Danielle Waterman and Rowena Burnfield all crossed Italy’s line. England’s defence also stood up to a tough test with a feisty Italian side pushing England throughout the game.
Smith, who has taken on the Head Coach role for this tour, said: "It may be a cliché but I am extremely pleased and proud of this team. This tournament is proving that we have got some very good players coming through.
"We have got some really exciting players in Sally Tuson, Lauren Cattell and Lydia Thompson, while our more experienced players have been fantastic leading this young side both on and off the pitch.
"We played some quality rugby today, but at the same time we also need to be more consistent and work on our discipline as we gave away some penalties. Our defence, however, was awesome as Italy really could have scored more tries than they did and it is a testament to this side that we just kept knocking them back. "
Photo: RFU Archive
Italy punished England early on when the visitors were penalised at the breakdown and fly half Veronica Schiavon stroked over a penalty after just two minutes.
But England were by no means put off their stride and a break by Richmond lock Burnfield saw the ball offloaded to Gemma Sharples and then out to the wing and into the clutches of centre Tuson who powered over the line. Chesham fly half Lauren Cattell did not add the extras.
After 14 minutes England had established a 10-3 lead. A good England scrum, five metres out, saw the pack drive forward and Lichfield No. 8 Millar-Mills picked up to dive over the try-line.
England’s dominance continued with a try straight after the kick off when England secured the ball in their 22. The pack powered forward again, creating a solid platform for the backs which eventually saw vice-captain and full back Danielle Waterman dive over under the posts.
England went down to 14 players when Millar-Mills was sin-binned, but Italy weren’t able to take advantage and England went into the break 15-3 up.
The restart saw Italy this time lose a player to the sin bin, scrum half Sara Barattin, but unlike their opponents earlier England did capitalise. England dominated possession and eventually some good ball from a line-out saw the ball swung out to wing Thompson for her fourth try in two games.
Try number five for England came courtesy of the ever present Tuson, but Waterman played a big part as usual, and a great break by the full back saw Georgina Rozario offload to Tuson, who evaded Italy’s defence to score. Cattell converted, before workhorse Burnfield wrapped up England’s tally with a 68th minute touchdown.
Italy, however, remained as dogged as ever and their hard work paid off when England lost a second player to the sin-bin – this time Sharples – and the home side battered England’s line and eventually broke through with wing Anna Barbanti taking the points.
England will now play France in the final game of the European Cup on Saturday, kick off 6.30pm BST.
15. Danielle Waterman (VC) (Worcester), 14. Lydia Thompson (Worcester) 13. Sally Tuson (Bristol), 12. Ceri Large (Worcester) 11. Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 10. Lauren Cattell (Chesham), 9. George Rozario (Lichfield), 1. Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 2. Vicky Fleetwood (Lichfield), 3. Laura Keates (Worcester), 4. Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 5. Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 6 Sarah Hunter (C), 7 Gemma Sharples (Worcester), 8 Harriet Millar Mills (Lichfield).
Replacements: 16. Emma Croker (Richmond), 17.Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 18. Kate Newton (Bristol), 19.Emily Braund (Lichfield), 20 Fiona Fletcher, 21.Fiona Davidson (Richmond), 22 Kim Oliver (Bristol), 23 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 24 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 25 Ceri Large (Worcester).
Tries: Tuson (2), Millar-Mills, Waterman, Thompson, Burnfield
Substitutions: Davidson for Rozario, Merchant for Laybourn (both 54), Fletcher for Hunter, Croker for Fleetwood, Braund for Taylor, Clark for Keates (all 60), Oliver for Waterman (69).
England Women’s European Cup Schedule
Spain v England: May 12, WON 61-0.
Italy v England: May 15,WON 32-8
France v England: May 19, KO 6.30pm