- Claire Purdy leads England to close victory
- Acting Head Coach Graham Smith slightly concerned with inconsistency
Photo: Travis Prior
England Women secured their first win of the 2013 Nations Cup, beating South Africa 18-17 in a nail-biter at the University of Northern Colorado, a game that finally got given the green light after the original kick off was delayed due to a tornado warning.
South Africa pressured England early on in the first half and were rewarded with the opening try when Zenay Jordaan touched down in the corner before Marnezelle Rabie scored the tough conversion to make it 7-0.
In the 17th minute, a cute pass to Lauren Cattell inside the South Africa 22 caught the Bok defence on the back foot, Cattell then fed Amy Wilson-Hardy for an easy try between the sticks to tie the game up at 7-7
Twelve minutes later a long punt was gathered by England, but the pace and pressure of the Springbok kick-chase caused a turnover. Nolusindiso Booi took advantage of the recycled ball and gave her team a 12-7 lead.
South Africa then added another try three minutes before half-time from a lineout near England’s 22. Jordaan took the ball and beat two defenders in the middle of the field to find go over, the Springboks heading into half-time with a 17-7 lead.
England got back on the board four minutes into the second half with a Cattell penalty kick, and she added another penalty in the 60th minute to make it 17-13. Reminiscent of their opening match of the Nations Cup against Canada, England were in a position to take the lead with only minutes remaining in the match.
From a lineout near the South African line, an England maul resulted in Rochelle Clark scoring the match-winning try with six minutes to go.
At 18-17 down South Africa had a golden opportunity to snatch a late victory. Jordaan, the captain, missed a penalty kick from nearly 25 metres and England held onto possession to earn their first win of the tournament.
Acting Head Coach Graham Smith said: “This was a very inexperienced England but it was a team we had backed to win the game. These young players have a lot of skill but too many individual errors and a lack of composure at certain times and in certain areas disrupted us.
“South Africa put in a tremendous performance and did what we knew they would do – they worked very hard and were very, very physical. At times they disrupted our breakdown and they have a very good international fly half in Zenay Jordaan who controlled the game well.
“Generally our performance was inconsistent but there was some really eye catching players – Vicky Fleetwood at flanker was impressive and Amy Wilson-Hardy at outside centre really took her opportunity on her debut.
quo;I am not usually one for highlighting individuals but Claire Purdy did a great job leading and her performance after a long time out with injury was very good. Emily Scott at 10 distributed and kicked well, too.”
England Women starting XV to play South Africa
15 Kate Hancock
14 Georgina Roberts
13 Amy Wilson–Hardy
12 Lauren Cattell
11 Leanne Riley
10 Emily Scott
9 Charlotte Keane
1 Claire Purdy (c)
2 Mercedes Foy
3 Justine Lucas
4 Rebecca Essex
5 Zoe Saynor
6 Fiona Fletcher
7 Victoria Fleetwood
8 Harriet Millar-Mills
16 Emma Croker
17 Rochelle Clark
18 Laura Keates
19 Isabelle Noel-Smith
20 Sarah Hunter
21 Fiona Davidson
22 Ceri Large
23 Kay Wilson