- England score six tries
- England on course to defend their Nations Cup crown
England Women’s youthful and largely inexperienced squad produced an outstanding performance last night (Wednesday) to defeat Nations Cup host side the USA 36-21 at the University of Northern Colorado and book their place in Sunday’s final against Canada.
In a must-win match for the Red Roses, who dropped a game in the first round of matches, England made a good early start and it took some great defence from the Eagles in the opening stages to keep England at bay.
Ten minutes in and the USA defence could hold no longer and a forward surge produced some quick ball for England, and a great break from fly half Emily Scott saw her beat three defenders to score. Worcester’s Ceri Large converted.
England, with 11 new caps on this tour, were on the score-sheet again just minutes later when their dominant scrum came to the fore, and after pounding the try-line prop Rochelle Clark dived over to take England 12 points clear. Large converted once again to make it 14-0.
The USA hit back with a penalty from centre Anne Paterson after England were penalised for not rolling away from a tackle. England then withstood some concerted USA pressure but fortunately for the tourists they couldn’t convert that pressure into points.
Instead England’s pack were in fine form once again and the England scrum dominated with No 8 and England skipper Sarah Hunter picking up and scoring England’s second try. Large's reliable boot increased England’s lead to 21-3.
It didn’t all go England’s way in the first-half though and the USA hit back just before the break, and after some good interplay lock Stacey Bridges finished off the move to score.
England, however, responded magnificently to pound the USA line, resulting in hooker Emma Croker scoring her first try for England on the stroke of half-time. Large this time didn’t make the conversion but England went into the break with a healthy 26-8 lead.
After the restart England continued to dominate and after a great break from the effervescent Croker and some superb handling from the England back line Worcester wing Lydia Thompson showed an impressive turn of pace to leave the USA with no response and score on 47 minutes.
A 57th-minute penalty against England saw Paterson take three points for the home side before Eagles wing Natalie Marchino hit back with a try in the last quarter, making the score 31-16.
England, however, were determined to turn the tables and they did exactly that when some concerted pressure in the USA’s 22 saw prop Laura Keates set up Richmond’s Rowena Burnfield and she charged down the blindside to score. Large couldn’t make a difficult conversion.
The USA had the final word with a Jamie Burke penalty try but the score came too late to matter with England taking their second win from three games in the Nations Cup.
Acting England Head Coach Graham Smith, whose side will now play Canada in the final on Sunday at 1:15am BST, said: “This performance was a great example of how to follow and execute a game plan. Our focus was not on making the final, but our own performance. Our set piece and breakdown was excellent, and our handling and attacking play was also of the highest order. This was a quality performance and the players played with superb spirit.”
15 Kay Wilson (Bristol), 14 Julie Hope (Carlisle), 13 Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond), 12 Ceri Large (Worcester) (VC), 11 Lydia Thompson (Worcester), 10 Emily Scott (Thurrock), 9 Fiona Davidson (Richmond), 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Emma Croker (Richmond), 3 Laura Keates (Worcester), 4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 5 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 6 Isabelle Noel-Smith (Bristol), 7 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield) (C).
Tries: Scott, Clark, Hunter, Coker, Thompson, Burnfield
Conversions: Large (3)
Replacements: Wilson-0Hardy for Chamberlain, Millar-Mills for Fleetwood, Goddard for Scott (all 71), Purdy for Clark, Davidson for Keane (both 76).
England’s Nations Cup schedule:
July 30, England 18 Canada 25
August 3, England 18 South Africa 17
August 8, England 36 USA 21
August 11, Nations Cup Final: England v Canada, KO 1:15am BST at Infinity Park, Glendale