Although England Women racked up an impressive 55-0 victory against Wales at the weekend in the opening RBS 6 Nations championship clash, skipper Catherine Spencer says her team must make further strides to improve their game if they are to achieve an unprecedented third Grand Slam this season.
Spencer, whose side ran in a massive nine tries against Wales on Saturday, believes England’s away clash against Italy, kick-off 130pm GMT, will prove a tough encounter and England must learn from the errors they made in the curtain-raiser fixture.
“The Wales game provided us with a fantastic start to the 2008 RBS 6 Nations,” said the 28-year-old Worcester No. 8. “As a team we showed, at parts, the exact rugby that we want to play with fantastic continuity and support play. There were, however, several errors that crept into the game so although we won convincingly on the score board we are under no illusions as an England squad that we have plenty to work on.
“Although I am very excited about the trip to Italy I know that it is going to be a very tough game. Italy proved strong opposition last year when we played them at Twickenham and they will have everything to play for in front of home support in Rome on Saturday. I am sure that they will come at us with plenty of pride and passion along with the dogged determination to keep fighting for the whole 80 minutes that they demonstrated so effectively in 2007. We will have to draw on all of our resources to come home with the next win that we so badly want.”
England Head Coach Gary Street has made a handful of changes for Saturday’s fixture including starts for Clifton prop Sophie Hemming and Leos lock Sarah Beale while England A skipper Karen Jones has also been called into the starting line-up.
Richmond fly-half Alice Richardson will also start in place of Katy McLean who is named on the bench. The only other change to the 22 sees a call-up for Worcester hooker Samantha Dale who could make her England debut if she is called off the bench.
Spencer added: “The turnaround between these two games is short but we are lucky in that we have such great strength in depth. There is a lot of competition for six nations’ shirts at the moment which is keeping everyone on their toes. We have a couple of changes to the starting line-up for the Italy fixture, which is obviously hard for those who have to step aside, but can only be a good thing for English rugby as a whole.”
1 Sophie Hemming Clifton
2 Amy Garnett Saracens
3 Rochelle Clark Henley
4 Tamara Taylor Darlington Mowden Park Sharks
5 Sarah Beale Leos
6 Karen Jones Richmond
7 Margaret Alphonsi Saracens
8 Catherine Spencer (C) Worcester
9 Amy Turner Richmond
10 Alice Richardson Richmond
11 Danielle Waterman Clifton
12 Rachael Burford Saracens
13 Claire Allan Saracens
14 Michaela Staniford Wasps
15 Charlotte Barras Saracens
16 Samantha Dale Worcester
17 Katy Storie Blaydon
18 Joanna McGilchrist Wasps
19 Jane Leonard Wasps/Army
20 Katy McLean Darlington Mowden Park Sharks
21 Katherine Merchant Worcester
22 Victoria Massarella Saracens
Head Coach Gary Street
Assistant Coach Graham Smith