England 12 Wales 6
England were crowned European Champions after a hard fought 12-6 victory against Wales in the European Championship final in Amsterdam on Saturday.
The win hands England another trophy to add to their already bulging silverware cabinet which includes the RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam crown which they have now won three years on the bounce.
England Head Coach Gary Street, whose side also beat Sweden (80-3) and Ireland (22-11) on route to the final, said: “We are delighted with this victory. We have not won the elite European Championships since 1997. A lot of very good English sides have failed in this tournament but finally we have won it. It’s also great to be crowned Six Nations and European Champions in the same season. Not many sides can say they have done that.
“This was a tough game, but in the end we dominated the second-half and were in control. Wales gave us a very good test though, our first real test since the Rugby World Cup Final in 2006. You need tight games like this though and we proved today that we can come from behind and win.”
England indeed had to come from behind to steal the win after going 6-0 down at the break. Wales took advantage of having the strong wind behind them while England suffered in the blustery conditions.
First Wales’ Non Evans stroked over a 15th minute penalty after England were penalised for holding on and then she matched her efforts on 17 minutes when England didn’t roll away at the breakdown.
England and Wales also lost a player each to the sin-bin in the first-half with England losing Saracen hooker Amy Garnett.
After the restart England made the most of the wind and also started to dominate territory as well as possession. Darlington Mowden Park fly-half Katy McLean broke England’s duck with a 53rd minute penalty.
England then lost influential flanker Maggie Alphonsi to the sin-bin but England didn’t suffer with the likes of Rosemarie Crowley, Vicky Massarella and Sarah Beale being rolled on for some fresh legs.
On 67 minutes McLean added a second penalty to draw the scores level at 6-6 before adding a further two successful kicks at goal to clinch the 12-6 victory and the European Championship title.
1 Rochelle Clark (Henley), 2 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 3 Sophie Hemming (Clifton), 4 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), 7 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 8 Catherine Spencer (C) (Worcester), 9 Amy Turner (Richmond), 10 Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 11 Fiona Pocock (Richmond), 12 Rachael Burford (VC) (Saracens), 13 Michaela Staniford (Wasps), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 15 Charlotte Barras (Saracens). Replacements: 16 Samantha Dale (Worcester), 17 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 18 Sarah Beale (Leos), 19 Karen Jones (Richmond), 20 Georgina Rozario (Plymouth Albion), 21 Kimberley Oliver (Clifton), 22 Vicky Massarella (Saracens)
Penalties: McLean (4)
Substitutions: Oliver for Merchant (43), Crowley for Hemming, Massarella for Staniford, Beale for McGilchrist (all 61), Rozario for Turner (73), Dale for Garnett, Jones for Hunter (all 75).
photo Getty Images