- England record their first victory of the 6 Nations
- Six tries see England win 39-7
England 39 Italy 7
England Women recorded their first win of the Six Nations championship with a six-try, 39-7 victory over Italy at the Stoop today (Sunday).
World champions England, who were disappointed by their 13-0 defeat to Wales in the championship opener last weekend, bounced back with this new looking, young side showing more potential and fluidity.
England took the first points with returning world cup winning captain Katy Mclean stroking over a penalty after just three minutes. That platform gave England some confidence and they dominated for the opening stages with Harriet Millar-Mills and Abbie Brown making some nice breaks.
Mclean had another chance at goal but couldn’t hand England a 6-0 lead. Ruth Laybourn went close on the right wing but the channel was too narrow and to England’s cost a turn-over ball near Italy’s try line turned into a serious counter attack for their rivals.
Italy turned that opportunity into pressure and in the end a quick tap penalty inside England’s 22 saw Flavia Severin barge over the try line. Wing Michela Sillari added the conversion to turn the tables on the home side and hand Italy a 7-3 lead.
England responded well though, with England’s most capped current player Rochelle Clark going close, only to be held up on the line. Instead some good pressure by England, after several pick and go’s from the breakdown, saw flanker Alex Matthews power forward and barge over the try line. Mclean converted to take back a 10-7 lead.
The one way traffic continued for England with some great breaks by Matthews and Vicky Fleetwood and in the end lock Abbie Scott was the player on the end of another attacking phase. She muscled her way over the line for her first ever England try just before half-time.
Matters worsened for Italy, losing fly-half Beatrice Rigonni to the sin-bin for a series of penalties and although it took some time for England to score they did in the end after a scrappy Italy clearance kick close to their try line. England picked up and spun the ball out-wide through McKenna, Brown and then Large who took the points. Mclean converted handing England a 22-7 lead.
England then rounded off proceedings with three late tries courtesy of Mclean, Hannah Gallagher and Kay Wilson. Prop Justine Lucus looked like she had done enough to score, but was penalised for being off-side. England instead took another quick tap penalty and Mclean was the benefactor. Moments later Gallagher stormed away for a good breakaway try quickly followed by another good score by fullback Kay Wilson.
Acting interim Head Coach Nicky Ponsford said: “This week we asked for a step up and that is what we got. We stepped up our performance as a whole; our dynamism around the breakdown was better, we had go forward in attack, and the inclusion of Katy gave us a lot more structure in our game plan. We used our width far more effectively and used the attacking threats we had in the back three better. It was a far more positive performance. While we made life a little bit difficult for ourselves, we dominated the game and possession. There are a lot more things to put right but we are definitely moving in the right direction.
“Playing Ireland will certainly be another step up but a win today gives us confidence that will enable us to push forward. Playing Ireland will be a tough game and definitely a real test but I am confident we’ll see another step forward against them.”
15 Kay Wilson (Thurrock), 14 Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 13 Abigail Brown (Bristol), 12 Ceri Large (Worcester), 11 Sydney Gregson (Bristol), 10 Katy Mclean (VC) (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 9 Bianca Blackburn (Worcester), 1 Rochelle Clark (Worcester), 2 Victoria Fleetwood (Saracens), 3 Laura Keates (Worcester), 4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) (C), 5 Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 6 Alexandra Matthews (Richmond), 7 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens), 8 Harriet Millar-Mills (Waterloo), Replacements: 16 Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), 17 Victoria Cornborough (Richmond), 18 Justine Lucas (Lichfield), 19 Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), 20 Hannah Field (Richmond), 21 Fiona Davidson (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 22 Megan Goddard (Worcester), 23 Sarah McKenna (Saracens)
Tries: Matthews, Scott, Large, Mclean, Gallagher, Wilson
Conversions: Mclean (2), Goddard
Substitutions: Cornborough for Clark, McKenna for Gregson (52), Lucas for Keates (53), Cokaye for Fleetwood (54), Field for Millar-Mills (66), Davidson for Blackburn and Goddard for Mclean (both 74).
15 Manuela Furlan, 14 Maria Magatti, 13 Sofia Stefan, 12 Paola Zangirolami, 11 Michela Sillari, 10 Beatrice Rigoni, 9 Sara Barattin, 1 Elisa Cucchiella, 2 Melissa Bettoni, 3 Awa Coulibaly, 4 Flavia Severin, 5 Alice Trevisan, 6 Michela Este, 7 Elisa Giordano, 8 Silvia Gaudino (C). Replacements: 16 Lucia Cammarano, 17 Irene Campanini, 18 Ilaria Arrighetti, 19 Alessia Pantarotto, 20 Valentina Ruzza, 21 Veronica Schiavon, 22 Maria Grazia Cioffi, 23 MariaDiletta Veronese
Referee: Alhambra Nievas
Halt-time score: England 15 Italy 7
Six Nations playing schedule:
Sunday, February 8, Wales 13 England 0, Swansea RFC
Sunday, February 15, England 39 Italy 7, the Twickenham Stoop,
Friday, February 27, Ireland v England, KO 730pm, Asbourne RFC, live stream by IRFU
Friday, March 13, England v Scotland, KO 735pm, the Northen Echo Arena, Darlington, live on Sky Sports.
Saturday, March 21, England v France, KO 720pm, Twickenham Stadium, live on the BBC Red Button.