- Scarratt weighs in with 20 points
- Lichfield full back grabs a brace as Wales are outmuscled
Emily Scarratt scored 20 points for England Women as they defeated Wales at Twickenham Stoop this evening to keep the pressure on France at the top of the Six Nations table.
Following their 17-10 victory over Ireland at Twickenham two weeks ago, Head Coach Gary Street called for improved execution and his side certainly delivered with a confident attacking performance.
It was the Scarratt show in the first half but Natasha Brennan was the story of the second – making a dream start to her senior England debut by scoring with her first touch of the ball.
Two penalties from Scarratt within the first 20 minutes gave the home side a 6-0 lead but Wales responded moments later with three points of their own.
England’s first try came when fractured play allowed Amber Reed to dart through the Welsh defence. Scarratt covered the ground down the wing and touched down under the posts before converting.
For a period Wales made it difficult for England to build momentum by forcing errors through good linespeed and hard work at the breakdown but on the half-hour the women in white began to get into their stride.
Good work by the forwards at the breakdown delivered clean ball for the backs who sent the ball across the width of the field. Full of confidence, Scarratt backed herself and forced her way over in the corner for her second try.
England still had more to offer and with minutes remaining, Kat Merchant showed her pace on the far side before great hands from Burford and a perfectly weighted pass from Scarratt allowed Kay Wilson to touch down on the opposite flank, giving the home side a 23-3 half time lead.
Scarratt made an immediate impact after the re-start, beating half the Welsh team as she ran from just inside the half towards the posts. Howver, she was tackled a metre short. Alphonsi was there in support to pick and go but was also denied by a last-ditch defensive effort from Wales.
Replacement Brennan, a star of England Sevens, was next to score, crossing in the corner to mark her first cap for the 15s after a number of strong scrums just in front of the posts.
The momentum continued for England with all the play in the Welsh half but by applying numbers at the breakdown, the visitors were able to do enough to slow down England’s ball. Alphonsi eventually got the score board ticking over again on 73 minutes with England’s fifth try, which player of the match Scarratt converted for a 35-3 victory.
Afterwards, Head Coach Gary Street said: “Wales are a difficult side to play against and in giving away a number of penalties they disrupted our rhythm. It was important that we had good go forward ball – we needed to dominate territory and build momentum before going wide. We are in a good place heading into the final weekend and the match against Italy. We have a raft of very talented players not in tonight’s squad still knocking on the door for consideration on Monday.
“I’m really pleased with the energy that the replacements added. Ceri Large in particular made a real impact when she came on in place of captain Katy Mclean and I was overjoyed for Natasha Brennan.”
15 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Amber Reed (Bristol), 12 Rachael Burford (Thurrock), 11 Kay Wilson (Bristol), 10 Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, captain), 9 La Toya Mason (Wasps), 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Emma Croker (Richmond), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 5 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 6 Marlie Packer (Wasps), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 8 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield). Replacements: 16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17 Sasha Acheson (Bristol), 18 Laura Keates (Worcester), 19 Joanne McGilchrist (Wasps), 20 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), 21 Natasha Hunt (Lichfield), 22 Ceri Large (Worcester), 23 Natasha Brennan (Richmond)
Tries: Scarratt (26 & 40 mins), Wilson (39 mins), Brennan (49 mins), Alphonsi (73 mins)
Conversions: Scarratt (27 & 74mins)
Penalties: Scarratt (13 & 20 mins)
Substitutions: Fleetwood on for Croker (46 mins), Acheson on for Clark (56 mins), Keates on for Hemming (56 mins) , McGilchrist on for Essex (56 mins) , Gallagher on for Packer (59 mins), Hunt on for Mason (46 mins), Large on for Mclean (56 mins), Brennan on for Wilson (46 mins)
15 Elen Evans (Waterloo), 14 Ffion Bowen (Maesteg Celtic), 13 Robyn Wilkins (Llandaff North), 12 Rebecca de Filippo (Bristol Ladies), 11 Philippa Tuttiett (Bristol Ladies), 10 Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Ladies), 9 Amy Day (Llandaff North), 1 Jenny Davies (Waterloo), 2 Lowri Harries (Neath Athletic), 3 Catrin Edwards (Bristol Ladies), 4 Rachel Taylor C (Bristol Ladies), 5 Shona Powell Hughes Harries (Neath Athletic), 6 Catrina Nicholas (Llandaff North), 7 Nia Davies (Cardiff Met), 8 Sioned Harries (Llandaff North). Replacements: 16 Carys Phillips (Bristol Ladies), 17 Megan York (Blaenau Gwent), 18 Caryl Thomas (Bath Ladies), 19 Jenny Hawkins (Llandaff North), 20 Sian Williams (Worcester Ladies), 21 Sian Moore (Bristol Ladies), 22 Laurie Harries (Llandaff North), 23 Elli Norkett (Neath Athletic)
Penalty: Wilkins (23 mins)
Referee: Jess Beard
England’s Six Nations results and fixture
Saturday, Feb 1 - France 18 England 6, Stade des Alpes
Sunday, Feb 9 - Scotland 0 England 63, Aberdeen Grammar, Aberdeen
Saturday, Feb 22 - England 17 Ireland 10, Twickenham Stadium
Friday, March 7 - England 35 Wales 3, Twickenham Stoop,
Sunday, March 16 - Italy v England, Stadio Giulio Rovato, kick-off 2pm GMT