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England women retain The 6 Nations Crown
England 72 Scotland 3
England Women retained their RBS 6 Nations crown on Saturday at London Welsh RFC, and in doing so became the first women's team to ever record four back-to-back Six Nations titles.
Gary Street's side inflicted a punishing 72-3 victory on Scotland, which saw them run in 12 tries, with Worcester wing Katherine Merchant touching down a massive four times and Saracens' Charlotte Barras also adding a hat-trick. England led 29-0 at half-time, leaving Scotland with a mammoth task after the restart.
Street, who has led England to two of the four Six Nations titles, said: "This was a tremendous way to end the championship. We are delighted with today's performance and also winning the Six Nations again. This is four titles in a row now, and that's a marvellous achievement, but I'm already focusing on the year ahead which includes the Rugby World Cup in 2010. To be honest, I can't wait for our next game now.
"This championship has really been built on team effort and morale. We have a really close knit management and coaching team, and that rubs off on our playing squad. Graham Smith (assistant coach) has been a real force in our togetherness and teamwork and certainly a crucial element to our latest success."
England marched to the title with wins over Italy, Ireland, France and Scotland, with only Wales spoiling their Grand Slam party. England lost that game 16-15 in the dying minutes with a late penalty against them.
Street added: "Our defeat against Wales was real motivation for us to pick ourselves up and prove what we can do. Even though we haven't won the Grand Slam, this has been our best Six Nations championship in my opinion."
Smith added: "Like Gary, this for me has been our best Six Nations title win. We have got such quality and depth in this squad, and I would say the backs we have are the best we've ever had. The forwards have provided the platform for the backs to work from and they have been immense too, especially hooker Amy Garnett who today won her 75th cap. She is one of the best players around, and today I think played her best ever game."
Knowing they had to win against Scotland, and for Ireland and Wales to keep each other at bay, England certainly meant business from the first kick-off.
Speedster Merchant set the standard running in her first try after just four minutes after a nicely taken line-out saw England move the ball out-wide . On form Emily Scarratt then made some vital space before off-loading to Merchant who finished off the score.
Not content with one try, however, Merchant then went on to score a further two tries within the next 10 minutes, showing a tremendous turn of pace each time which Scotland just couldn't match.
With 22 minutes gone on the clock England went 22-0 when prop Rochelle Clark got the ball out to the backs, with Scarratt then setting up Barras, who found a great line to score. Fly-half Katy McLean added the conversion.
Scotland had a chance at goal with a penalty, but they missed and instead England kept the pressure going with one final try before half-time when Richmond wing Fiona Pocock intercepted a Scotland attack to run in and score.
After the break England kept the momentum going and Barras underlined the determination of the home side with her second try of the afternoon after cleanly taken line-out ball saw the ball spun out-wide and Barras pounced on it to run the length of the field.
Scotland managed to claw back three points with a penalty after forward Sarah Beale was sin-binned, but England weren't put off their stride and instead ran in a further two tries from Merchant and Barras while England were down to 14 players.
Skipper Catherine Spencer also led by example with a superb afternoon, which she wrapped up with a 68th minute try after pushing over from a well worked scrum. Beale then added two tries and Sarah Hunter one to hand England the Six Nations crown in convincing style.
1 Rochelle Clark (Blaydon), 2 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 3 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 4 Rebecca Essex (Richmond), 5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Karen Jones (Richmond), 7 Gemma Sharples (Worcester), 8 Catherine Spencer (C) (Bristol), 9 Amy Turner (Richmond), 10 Katy McLean (VC) (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 11 Fiona Pocock (Richmond), 12 Alice Richardson (Richmond), 13 Emily Scarratt (Lichfield), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 15 Charlotte Barras (Saracens). Replacements: 16 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 17 Katy Storie (Blaydon), 18 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), 19 Sarah Beale (Lichfield), 20 Georgina Rozario (Plymouth Albion), 21 Kimberley Oliver (Bristol), 22 Francesca Matthews (Richmond)
Tries: Merchant (4), Barras (3), Pocock, Spencer, Beale (2), Hunter.
Conversions: McLean (6)
Substitutions: Oliver for Scarratt (38), Matthew for Pocock (55), Hemming for Storie, Purdy for Clark, Rozario for Turner (57)
1 Heather Lockhart, 2 Sarah Louise Walker, 3 Beth Dickens, 4 Louise Moffat. 5 Joy Leth, 6 Lynne Reid C 7 Ruth Slaven, 8 Susie Brown, 9 Louise Dalgliesh, 10 Tanya Griffiths, 11 Victoria Blakenbrough, 12 Erin Kerr, 13 Laura Steven, 14 Cara D'Silva, 15 Lucy Millard. Replacements: Niccki McLeod, 17 Ellen Beattie, 18 Natalya Macholla, 19 Keri Holdsworth, 20 Sarah Gill, 21 Suzi Newton, 22 Lynsey Douglas
Referee: Patrick Pechambert (FFR)
Assistant Referees: Roland Potter & Debroah Innes
Half-time score: England 29 Scotland 0
England Women RBS 6 Nations Fixtures:
Feb 7th England v Italy 13.30 London Welsh RFC
Feb 14th Wales v England 13.00 Taffs Wells RFC, Cardiff
Feb 27th Ireland v England 18.30 St. Mary's RFC, Dublin
March 15th England v France 13.30 London Welsh RFC
March 21st England v Scotland 13.30 London Welsh RFC
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