England A Women recorded their first win over the Nomads for the first time in three years on Sunday at Esher RFC with a well earned 12-10 victory.
The Nomads, the men's game equivalent of the Barbarians, cherry picked a side brimming with former international players including ex-England captain Sue Day and England's Selena Rudge and Shelley Rae but their years of experience couldn't halt the determined England side.
England A Head Coach Mike Barnett said: "This was a really tough game and it was really close. We created lots of chances but the disappointing thing was that we didn't finish off all of them or get all the points we deserved.
"Even so, we kept battling until the end and there were some great individual performances. We are now looking forward to our next game against Spain on Sunday where we'll have a chance to try and cut out the errors and turn these opportunities into points. This was a good start to our season and is a great platform for us now to build on."
The first half of the game was a dogged affair with both sides battling it out. Neither side asserted dominance but were successful in defence in a very physical first half hour.
England's patience paid off though and some good attacking work from Georgina Roberts and Fran Matthew saw the ball moved quickly through the backs to the opposite wing. The forwards then took it on and Worcester prop Laura Keates managed to cross in the corner. Centre Abigail Chamberlain missed the conversion.
The Nomads clawed back to 5-5 at the break after a period of concerted pressure on England's line. The pressure paid off with Elisha Dee driving over the line to beat England's defence.
After the half time team talk England took control of the game and piled the pressure on the Nomads. After some excellent moves from the backs, then a well worked line-out, the ball was taken through the midfield and Matthews cruised in to score under the posts. This time Chamberlain converted to take England into a 12-5 lead.
England continued to apply the pressure but eventually the Nomads turned the tables and put pressure on England's line instead and after several phases of play Henrietta Hegberg crossed in the corner. With Rae missing the vital conversion with five minutes to go England took the 12-10 victory.
15 Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 14 Francesca Matthews (Richmond), 13 Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond), 12 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol), 11 Amber Penrith (Worcester), 10 Danielle Knight (Lichfield), 9 Sarah Guest (Worcester), 1 Laura Keates (Worcester), 2 Emma Layland (Richmond), 3 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 4 Natalie Binstead (Wasps), 5 Jenny Brightmore (Worcester), 6 Gemma Sharples (Worcester), 7 Jane Leonard (Lichfield / Army), 8 Sonia Green (C) (Saracens), Replacements: 16 Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield), 17 Monica Lewinska (Bristol), 18 Marlie Packer (Bristol), 19 Sara Anastasi (Richmond), 20 Rose Fong (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 21 Natasha Hunt (Bristol), 22 Jennifer Edwards (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks).
Tries: Keates, Matthews
Substitutions: Packer for Binstead (55), Edwards for Penrith (60), Anastasi for Brightmore (60), Hunt for Chamberlain (65), Lewinska for Crowley (65), Fong for Knight (70), Fleetwood for Layland (70).
15 Vicki Jackson (Lichfield), 14 Sarah Mills Marsh (Wasps), 13 Sue Day (Wasps), 12 Selena Rudge, 11 Jackie Shiels (Richmond), 10 Shelley Rae (Wasps), 9 Susie Appleby (Bristol), 1 Maxime Edwards (Saracens), 2 Jo Poore (Oakmeadians), 3 Elisha Dee (Saracens), 4 Arabah Chintoh (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 5 Liza Burgess (Bristol), 6 Laura Jenkins (Richmond), 7 Nic Evans (Wasps), 8 Deena Aiken (Vale of Lune). Replacements: 16 Henrietta hegberg (Högberg), 17 Davinia Monteiro (Bristol), 18 Jill McCallum (Bristol), 19 Fiona Britten (Bristol), 20 Desiree Emery (Richmond), 21 Charlie Goode (Saracens), 22 Daryle Poole (Bristol), 23 Michelle Houle (Richmond), 24 Alex Pilkington
Tries: Dee, Hegberg
Half-time score: England A 5 Nomads 5
Referee: Andre Ttofa
Assistant Referees: Becky Patrick & Joan Marsh
England A Fixtures & Results:
Feb 7th, England A v Nomads, KO 4pm Esher RFC
Feb 14th, Spain v England A, KO 1230pm local time, Gijon Las Mestas Stadium
March 13th, England A v Nomads, KO 530pm local time, Esher RFC
March 19th, France A v Spain, KO 515pm local time, Rennes Stade Velodrome
photos Janos Schmidt