England Women demolished their arch-rivals France in the RBS 6 Nations on Saturday with a record away win, triumphing 31-0 in Bergerac.
The reigning Grand Slam champions pocketed an impressive five try victory on French turf, with Claire Allan, Tamara Talyor, Catherine Spencer and Sarah Beale, who crossed twice, all touching down.
The victory keeps the England team firmly on track to retain their title with wins over Wales and Italy already in the bag.
England Head Coach Gary Street said: “I am so proud of the team. This is a fabulous result. The will and desire the team displayed today was outstanding. The team were led superbly by Catherine Spencer and everyone refused to let France cross and I think our opponents became demoralised by that.
“Some people will say the title in now in the bag for us, but as far as we are concerned we have won three games but we have not got any silverware to show for it yet. There are two games still to go and there is no way Scotland or Ireland are going to roll away and let us get our hands on the trophy without a serious battle.”
England began their French encounter starting as they meant to go on with Saracen centre Allan adding to her already impressive try tally this season with a touchdown in the first minute. A French knock-on immediately after the kick-off handed England an early scrum and with Allan cutting inside after a clever pass from Katy McLean, the pacey back ran in to score. Fly-half McLean converted.
England’s forwards then had their chance to put some points on the board after the tourists turned-over a scrum and the ball was switched out-side on to the left wing for lock Taylor to touch down for the first time this season. McLean missed the conversion, but the two tries were enough to hand England a comfortable 12 point cushion at the break after a missed penalty attempt at goal for France.
The hosts made some changes after the restart but their re-enforcements could not halt the committed English women, and France soon paid the price when they lost Mélanie Gauffinet to the sin-bin. England immediately took their chances with a five metre scrum and skipper Spencer powered her way over the line for her side’s third touchdown.
England also made some changes in the last quarter of the game and they soon benefitted from the fresh legs with Leos lock Beale grabbing the first of her two tries after just 60 seconds of being on the field thanks to a break by Maggie Alphonsi in the mid-field. Richmond fly-half Alice Richardson, another replacement, converted to give England a 24-0 lead.
Beale then had the final word in the closing stages of the game as France crumbled under the pressure with the forward cleanly taking a line-out, catch and drive to touch down. Richardson added the conversion handing England the 31-0 victory. England’s RBS 6 Nations campaign continues in Scotland in two weeks time.
1 Rochelle Clark (Henley), 2 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 3 Katy Storie (Blaydon), 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 Danielle Waterman (Clifton), 12 Rachael Burford (Saracens), 13 Claire Allan (Saracens), 14 Michaela Staniford (Wasps), 15 Charlotte Barras (Saracens). Replacements: 16 Emma Layland (Richmond), 17 Sophie Hemming (Clifton), 18 Sarah Beale (Leos), 19 Karen Jones (Richmond), 20 Alice Richardson (Richmond), 21 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 22 Victoria Massarella (Saracens)
Tries: Allan, Taylor, Spencer, Beale (2)
Conversions: McLean, Richardson (2)
Substitutions: Richardson for McLean (46), Beale for McGilchrist (68), Merchant for Waterman (68), Jones for Hunter (72), Massarella for Barras (73), Hemming for Clark (73), Layland for Alphonsi (73).
1 Angeline MAHUAS (Sassenage), 2 Clémence OLLIVIER (Rennes), 3 Céline BARTHELEMY (Chilly Essonne), 4 Sandra RABIER (Caen), 5 Marie Charlotte HEBEL (Toulouges), 6 Célia RIGOUT (Montpellier), 7 Maud CAMATTA (Toulouges), 8 Delphine PLANTET (Bayonne), 9 Jennifer TRONCY (Montpellier), 10 Estelle SARTINI (C) (Caen), 11 Marie BOURRET (Toulouges), 12 Séverine COLLOMBAT (Montpellier), 13 Sandrine AGRICOLE (Rennes), 14 Céline ALLAINMAT (Bayonne), 15 Caroline LADAGNOUS (Lons). Replacements: 16 Laetitia SALLES (Toulouges), 17 Nadège LABBEY (Caen), 18 Mélanie GAUFFINET (Dijon), 19 Claire CANAL (Toulouges), 20 Anaïs LAGOUGINE (Montpellier), 21 Aurélie BAILON (Toulouges), 22 Lucille GODIVEAU (Rennes)
Referee: Colin Brett (Scotalnd)
Touch Judge 1 – Sebastien Greletty
Touch Judge 2 – Pierre Marie Masson
4th Official – Jose Bexiga
5th Official – Michael Richard
England RBS 6 Nations Fixtures & Results
February 2nd England v Wales, London Irish RFC, Sunbury KO 230pm WON 55-0
February 9th Italy v England, Stadio Tre Fontane, Rome, KO 230pm WON 76-6
February 23rd France v England, Bergerac, nr Agen, KO 4pm local time WON 31-0
March 8th Scotland v England Meggetland Stadium, Edinburgh KO12pm
March 15th England v Ireland, London Irish RFC, Sunbury KO 445pm
photos Janos Schmidt