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Rugby - 20. May 2008.

England Women through to European Championship semi-finals


England 80 Sweden 3


England Women booked their place in the semi-finals of the European Championships on Saturday with an impressive 80-3 victory over emerging rugby nation Sweden.


The reigning RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam champions obliterated their opposition despite having five new caps make their debuts today. In total they ran in a massive 80 points grabbing 14 tries along the way.


England will now either play Ireland or Spain on Tuesday May 20th at 7pm BST in Amsterdam for a place in Saturday European Championship final.


Worcester wing Kat Merchant kicked off England’s cricket score win with the first of the 14 tries after just four minutes when a good ball from a 15 metre scrum saw the ball recycled into the midfield. Merchant then pounced on the ball to break through and score. Match day captain Katy McLean added the conversion.


Leos lock Sarah Beale added a converted try just three minutes later to hand England a 14-0 lead before Sweden’s fly-half claimed their only score of the match with a 12th minute penalty.


Lichfield centre Vicki Jackson, making her debut for England, claimed the first of her three tries on 25 minutes when a turn-over ball saw Jackson attack and score in the corner. McLean this time missed the conversion. Jackson then claimed her brace on 35 minutes to hand England a 19-3 lead at half-time.


During the break Head Coach Gary Street made two changes with Richmond’s Amy Turner replacing Clifton’s Kim Oliver and Sarah Hunter making way for Tamara Taylor.


Richmond’s experienced forward and England’s vice captain Karen Jones handed England a 26 point cushion on 42 minutes when she pushed her way over the line, before Fran Matthews claimed her first try for England on her debut. The Richmond wing was set-up by the experience Turner after a turn-over ball.


Merchant claimed her brace of tries on 55 minutes, before a raft of changes for England made matters even worse for Sweden. The likes of England captain Catherine Spencer, Maggie Alphonsi, Rochelle Clark coming off the bench certainly had an impact with England adding another seven tries in the space of 24 minutes.


Substitute Fiona Pocock also had an immediate effect touching down after just four minutes of being on the pitch and on her debut, after some great handling from the forwards and backs. Turner converted to hand England a 44-3 lead.


Moments later and forward Alphonsi added a score before Pocock claimed her brace of tries.


A great individual effort from Jackson saw the England debutant grab her hat-trick, of which she converted before also adding conversions on tries by Merchant and Alphonsi.


England captain Spencer then added the final try on 80 minutes with a well worked push over try to hand England the 80-3 victory.


England Head Coach Street said: “This was a good first game for the start of the tournament. Sweden were a very spirited side, but in the end we proved we were in a class above.


“We made some unforced errors to start with and there were some nerves, but that is understandable with so many new caps in this game. In the end we steadied the game and the new caps stepped up to the plate. We are now looking forward to the semi-finals.”


The European Championships sees 14 teams from across Europe compete for the coveted crown, including all the Home Nations teams as well as France, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden.


If England win the semi-finals on May 20th, they will compete in the final on May 24th.




1 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 2 Samantha Dale (Worcester), 3 Rosemarie Crowley (Lichfield), 4 Sarah Beale (            Leos), 5 Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Sarah Hunter (Lichfield), 7      Marlie Packer (Bath), 8 Karen Jones (Richmond), 9 Georgina Rozario (Plymouth Albion), 10 Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) (C), 11 Francesca Matthews (Richmond), 12 Kimberley Oliver (Clifton), 13 Vicki Jackson (Lichfield), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 15 Vicky Massarella (Saracens). Replacements: 16 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 17 Rochelle Clark (Henley), 18 Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), 19 Margaret Alphonsi (Saracens), 20 Catherine Spencer (Worcester), 21 Amy Turner (Richmond), 22 Fiona Pocock (Richmond).


Head Coach  Gary Street, Assistant Coach Graham Smith


Tries: Merchant (3), Beale, Jackson (3), Jones, Matthews, Pocock (2), Alphonsi (2), Spencer.

Conversions: McLean (2), Turner (3)

Substitutions: Turner for Oliver (40), Taylor for Hunter (40), Garnett for Dale, Clark for Purdy, Pocock for McLean, Alphonsi for Packer, Spencer for Bealer (all 56 mins).

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