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Rugby - 30. April 2011.

England A 5 Italy A 0

England A 5 Italy A 0

England Women A opened their European Trophy campaign with a 5-0 victory
over Italy in Coruna, Spain today (Saturday).

England, playing in Pool B, had to thank full back Kay Wilson for their one
and only try of the game, though they did miss many more opportunities than
that in the first half.

England now head into the second round of the pool games on Monday playing
unknown side the Netherlands, kick off 3pm BST.

Wilson’s crucial score came early on with the Richmond back taking
the points after just five minutes. A good drive by the forwards saw the
ball moved out-wide. Wasps wing Michaela Staniford, making her return from
injury, made a great break before offloading to Georgina Roberts.
England’s ball was slowed down, but some good work at a ruck again saw
the ball recycled out-wide through Sarah McKenna, Kim Oliver and then Fran
Matthews. Matthews spotted a gap, and drew in Italy’s defence before
offloading to Wilson who then ran in on the wing from 22 metres out. McKenna
couldn’t make the extras.

England kept the heat on Italy in the next 20 minutes, with Staniford again
making a good break to set Roberts up but she knocked on to give Italy some
breathing space.

Flanker Jane Leonard also had her chance, supporting a nice break from
McKenna, but as she got into Italy’s 22 the Army and Wasps player
spilled the ball in the tackle to let Italy off the hook.

England’s forwards also came close to scoring from a well worked
line-out catch and drive but Italy’s defence held firm to keep England
out.

With Italy surviving the early barrage of attack and keeping England at bay
the Italians picked up their game, and although they didn’t challenge
England’s try-line until late on in the second half they made the Red
Roses work hard for their opportunities.

England, however, did dominate possession and territory for much of the
game though in the second half they started to give too many penalties away
and Italy fought back. Just like Italy, England’s defence held firm
though with Roberts and Matthews at the heart of action while some good work
by England’s back row of Sarah Hunter, Leonard and Marlie Packer
proved crucial in this tight game.

England A Head Coach Mike Barnett said: “We were generally in control
for most of the game. Our one try was certainly a good one with the ball
moved through several phases of play. We had more chances and should have
made the most of them but Italy were tough opponents and had a lot of
experience in their side.  Although there was only one score in it we
were reasonably comfortable throughout.

“This was a tough opener as we’d expected. It was a physical
game too and we were definitely tested. But that is exactly what we wanted
in our first game. We now need to keep moving forward and if we do that then
we will be in good shape by the end of the week when the tournament gets
really serious.”
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