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England Rugby U20s Play Wales
A resurgent second-half performance handed England Women Under 20s an
impressive 32-19 victory over Wales Under 20s today (Wednesday) at Hartpury
College, and their third win of the season.
After trailing 8-12 at the break and losing two players to the sin-bin the
England young guns powered to a home victory with tries courtesy of Bristol
flanker Poppy Cleall, London Irish’s Alexandra Matthews,
Saracens’ Hannah Gallagher and Worcester’s Georgia Peedle.
The victory hands England a 100 percent record this season after wins over
France and Scotland also. The England U20s now head to the Nations Cup in
America in July to face the likes of Australia, South Africa, France and
England might have had to come from behind to take the victory but they
started well with Bristol’s Cleall touching down for the opening try
after just seven minutes. Some good pressure by England in the opening
stages saw the home side turn-over Wales in the scrum and from five yards
out Cleall pounced on the ball to dive over the try line. Thurrock fly half
Emily Scott couldn’t make the conversion but moments later she added a
penalty to hand England an early 8-0 lead.
But Wales too had their chances and they made the most of them. England
were turned over in their 22 and Wales moved the ball out into the midfield
for Sian Williams to run in and score. Yasmin Leung couldn’t add the
extras leaving Wales 8-5 adrift after 20 minutes.
England, however, started to make the going tough for themselves losing
both Amy Wilson-Hardy and Cleall to the sin-bin in the space of just seven
minutes. With the home side down to 13 players within in the dying minutes
of the first half Wales took a quick tap penalty and centre Rachel Rees ran
in to score. With Leung converting Wales took the 8-12 lead at the break.
Some serious words at half time saw England come back into the game. The
home side clearly learned a lot from their ill discipline and started well.
Nine minutes in and some good pressure from the forwards saw Cleall go over
for her second try of the afternoon.
Scott couldn’t make the conversion and Wales retook the lead with a
51st minute try after an impressive solo effort from fullback Rosie
Fletcher. With Leung converting the visitors led 13-19.
England rang the changes with Matthews, Gallagher and Peedle taking to the
field. And their impact was immediate. Matthews crashed over the try
line after just three minutes of being on the field after Wales were turned
over in a line-out in their 22. Moments later and Gallagher and Scott
executed some great interplay before Gallagher touched down under the posts
on 62 minutes. With Scott adding the conversion England led 25-19.
Replacement Peedle then had her chance after some good work by
England’s backs saw the Worcester player catch a great line on her
first touch of the ball and score. Scott was successful with the boot to
seal the 32-19 victory for England.
England Women U20s Head Coach Amanda Bennett said: “This was again a
very different match to the games we have played against France and Scotland
this season. We put ourselves in trouble in the first half with a high
missed tackle count and two sin-binnings. We fell foul of the referee and
were playing with 13 players at one point which is when Wales scored their
second try. We certainly made life hard for ourselves against a very good
“In the break we had a good team talk stressing the need to do the
basics well and when we started doing that we were much more disciplined.
Our tackling was much better as was our defence and that meant we could put
pressure on Wales. From about 50 minutes onwards there was a sense that this
game was there for us to take. We used our entire bench and their experience
made a real difference. With Gallagher and Matthews coming on they upped the
pace and physicality and we scored two quick tries.”
Bennett added: “It’s great that we have won three out of three
games. Along the way we have also learned a lot and we are now confident and
mentally strong. We know when we make errors that we can bounce back. The
U20s programme this season is certainly one of the best there has ever been
and we will have some very tough selection decisions to make ahead of the
Nations Cup. I know that I will be able to pick 26 players for that squad
and everyone of them will make an impact during our campaign.”