England A 62 Russia 0
England A Women opened their European Championship campaign in Madrid on Saturday with a thumping 62-0 win over Russia.
The development side ran in 10 tries including braces of tries for Georgina Roberts, Katherine Merchant and Jane Leonard. Wasps fly-half and England A skipper Shelley Rae added six conversions.
Thirsk centre Roberts opened England’s account with a fifth minute try after a five metre catch and drive from a line-out followed by a simple pass out to Roberts. Rae converted.
Roberts then claimed her second score in as many minutes with a superb effort in the dreary Spanish weather. This time a neat backrow move saw Richmond’s young wing Pocock move into the centre from the blind-side wing to execute a great pass to Roberts, who on a great running line, ran in under the posts. Rae again converted putting the Red Roses 12-0 up.
Worcester wing Katherine Merchant added her name to the score sheet on 15 minutes after some successful scrummaging saw Roberts set-up Merchant who ran through to score a converted try.
A quick tap penalty from Rae saw the ball move between the backs and the forwards before Lichfield flanker Sarah Hunter pounced on the ball for England’s fourth touch down.
Merchant then wrapped up the first-half for England A after a turn-over in England’s half saw the ball quickly recycled out to Lichfield fullback Vicky Jackson and then Merchant who scored under the posts to take a very comfortable 33-0 lead into the break.
Although Russia refused to give up the one way traffic continued after the restart with flanker Leonard of Wasps and the Army claiming her first try on 45 minutes. Some great forward play involving pick-ups and drives put Leonard through to score. Rae again converted.
Clifton centre Kim Oliver was next to benefit from some more good work from the forwards after a hard run from a scrum saw her cross and with Lichfield’s number 8 Leah Carey driving from an England line-out just eight metres out England moved into a 52-0 lead.
Next came a try for Pocock which was another superb effort. A well worked line-out which saw Wasps lock Natalie Binstead tip the ball off to Worcester’s Samantha Dale saw the ball moved out to the right with Pocock then cutting in to score.
England’s tenth and final try came courtesy of Leonard. A missed Russia penalty attempt saw Richmond’s Harriet Slynn gather up and then recycle the ball out through the backs with Leonard finally taking a pass from Saracens’ Claire Allan to score.
England A head coach Amanda Bennett said: “We did some good things today and I am pleased with the result. Admittedly Russia is not the strongest team in our pool, but we wanted to use this game to stamp our authority and also to focus on the technical and tactical areas of our game. In scoring ten tries we obviously did that a lot of the time, but there is certainly room for improvements and we did make mistakes. This was a very typical first championship match and we will use it to learn from it.”
England A next play Italy on Monday, a side which includes several of their first team squad.
1 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 2 Emma Layland (Richmond), 3 Katie Smith (Richmond), 4 Rebecca Essex (VC) (Richmond), 5 Natalie Binstead (Wasps), 6 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), 7 Jane Leonard (Wasps & Army), 8 Leah Carey (Lichfield), 9 Harriet Slynn (Richmond), 10 Shelly Rae (C) (Wasps), 11 Fiona Pocock (Richmond), 12 Kimberly Oliver (Clifton), 13 Georgina Roberts (Thirsk), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 15 Vicki Jackson (Lichfield). Replacements: 16 Samantha Dale (Worcester), 17 Rochelle Clark (Henley), 18 Emma Dresser (Lichfield), 19 Sarah Beale (Leos), 20 Katy McLean (Thirsk), 21 Michaela Staniford (Wasps), 22 Claire Allen (Saracens)
Tries: Roberts (2), Merchant (2), Hunter, Leonard (2), Oliver, Carey, Pocock
Conversions: Rae (6)
Half-time score: England A 33 Russia 0
With some questionable decisions throughout the match England women reign
England hold their nerve to make it through to the World Cup Final at a sold-out Lord's on Sunday.