- Gary Street left to rue "disappointing" performance
- England sink to two-try defeat
England Women had to settle for second best in the opening weekend of Six Nations action with France clicnhing an 18-6 victory at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble on Saturday.
In a thrilling encounter, watched by a record French crowd of 9,650, England couldn’t match a buoyant French side in every area and consequently paid a high price.
Both sides made a breathless start with France rising to the vociferous crowd and putting England under pressure. England, however, banked the first points of the evening with skipper Katy Mclean converting a penalty after some good work by Lichfield duo Natasha Hunt and Emily Scarratt.
France immediately bounced back and put England under pressure again. A lineout drive saw them go close but in the end they added three points after Sandrine Agricole struck a superb drop-goal.
France had another unsuccesful shot at goal some minutes later, but their momentum continued and they caught England napping at the scrum. A massive defensive effort kept out France though, and in the end England won a turnover with Scarratt making a break up field before releasing Maggie Alphonsi. Alphonsi couldn’t stay on her feet but France were penalised and Mclean edged England into a 6-3 lead with a 30-meyre penalty.
Agricole slotted home an important kick at goal just six minutes later to make the score 6-6 at half-time, and France kept the upper-hand after the break. Although they missed an early shot at goal, they went ahead when hooker and captain Gaelle Mignot scored from a lineout and driving maul. Agricole didn’t convert, keeping the score at 11-6.
Matters then worsened for England as another lineout saw France structure a powerful driving maul that England couldn’t stop. Mignot went over once again, and with Tremouliere this time taking the conversion France took a more assailable 18-6 lead and in the end the victory.
England Head Coach Gary Street said: “This was a disappointing performance in every aspect. We let ourselves down whilst France took their opportunities. We thought we had done our preparations well but clearly we have not done them well enough. This is a big lesson for us to learn and we have got to get it right against Scotland next Sunday.”
15 Kay Wilson (Bristol), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 12 Rachael Burford (Thurrock), 11 Michaela Staniford (Wasps), 10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Emma Croker (Richmond), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 5 Emily Braund (Lichfield), 6 Marlie Packer (Wasps), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield). Replacements: 16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 18 Laura Keates (Worcester), 19 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), 20 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 21 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 22 Ceri Large (Worcester), 23 Amber Reed (Bristol).
Penalties: Mclean (2),
Replacements: Mason for Merchant (43), Fleetwood for Croker, Essex for Braund (both 54), Gallagher for Packer, Reed for Hunt (60),
15 Jessy Tremouliere, 14 Marion Lievre, 13 Shannon Izar, 12 Marjorie Mayans, 11 Camille Grassineau, 10 Sandrine Agricole, 9 Jennifer Troncy, 1 Helene Ezanno, 2 Gaelle Mignot C, 3 Elodie Portaries, 4 Marine de Nadai, 5 Assa Koita, 6 Koumiba Djossouvi, 7 Coumba Diallo, 8 Safi N’Diaye. Replacements: 16 Laetitia Salles, 17 Julie Duval, 18 Lise Arricastre, 19 Sandra Rabier, 20 Laettitia Grand, 21 Elodie Poublan, 22 Christelle Leduff, 23 Yanna Rivoalen.
Tries: Mignot (2)
Drop goals: Agricole
Referee: Helen O'Reilly (Ireland)
England’s Six Nations Fixtures
- Saturday, February 1 - France v England, Stade des Alpes, KO 7:55pm GMT, live on Sky Sports 3
- Sunday, February 9 - Scotland v England, Aberdeen Grammar, Aberdeen, KO 2pm, live on www.youtube.com/officialrfutv
- February 22 - England v Ireland, Twickenham Stadium, KO 6:20pm, live on the BBC Red Button & BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. FREE entry to Twickenham Stadium after England Men v Ireland Men.
- March 7 - England v Wales, the Twickenham Stoop, KO 7:30pm, live on www.rfu.com/englandwomenlive and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. Tickets available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk (0844 847 2492) and www.quins.co.uk (0208 410 6000).
- March 16 - Italy v England, Stadio Giulio Rovato, KO 2pm GMT