England Women Clinch Nations Cup
Thursday Aug 20, 2009 in Elite Level Rugby Other International News
England clinched the Nations Cup Wednesday after a bonus-point victory against South Africa in the third round of the tournament in Toronto.
The Red Roses didn’t run roughshod over the South Africans, who dropped to 0-3-1 and finished last, but it was enough, 25-0.
England didn’t put a point on the board until the 30th minute of the game. It was South Africa that started the game brightly, putting pressure on England and pinning them into their own half. The Springboks were the first to create opportunities but with England defending well they prevented them from scoring also. And with South Africa missing an early penalty England slowly clawed their way back into the game.
Worcester wing Kat Merchant continued her try-scoring, touching down at 34 minutes. Alice Richardson hit the conversion and added a penalty to give England a 10-0 halftime lead.
England took charge in the second half and got tries from vice-captain Charlotte Barras, Rachael Burford and then Barras again to round out the scoring.
“I'm disappointed with the number of unforced errors we made during the game,” England head coach Gary Street said. “This made it difficult for us but full credit must go to South Africa who took the game to us especially in the first half.
“We are delighted that we have won the tournament for the second year, and to do it away from home too against some very competitive competition. It has given us a very useful insight into where we are ahead of a World Cup year, but there is still one game to go and we must improve on this performance against Canada on Saturday and come back stronger.”
It was an important result for South Africa, too. Not expected to beat England, they were also in real danger of losing by more than 100. But the relatively respectable score of 25-0 will give the Springboks something to build on.
“South Africa were very tough physical opponents and we had to dig deep for our 25 points,” said England captain Catherine Spencer. “We didn’t play our best game and made too many basic errors. Having said that we have played some very good rugby over our last three games and we have won the Nations Cup.”
England cannot be caught with one round remaining for all teams except South Africa, who have completed their four games. The only team in a position to catch them before Wednesday was Canada, but they lost to the USA, putting the USA and Canada more than five standings point behind England.
Tries: Merchant, Barras (2) Burford
15 Charlotte Barras (VC) (Saracens), 14 Katherine Merchant (Worcester), 13 Claire Allan (Saracens), 12 Rachael Burford (Saracens), 11 Fiona Pocock (Richmond), 10 Alice Richardson (Richmond), 9 Georgina Rozario (Plymouth Albion) 1 Claire Purdy (Wasps), 2 Olivia Poore (Lichfield), 3 Katy Storie (Team Northumbria), 4 Becky Essex (Richmond) 5 Jo McGilchrist (Wasps), 6 Karen Jones(Richmond), 7 Heather Fisher (Wasps), 8 Catherine Spencer C (Bristol). Replacements:16 Amy Garnett (Saracens), 17 Sophie Hemming (Bristol), 18 Rochelle Clark (Team Northumbria)), 19 Gemma Sharples (Worcester), 20 Amy Turner (Richmond), 21 Danielle Waterman (Team Northumbria), 22 Kim Oliver (Bristol)
Substitutions: Turner for Rozario, Waterman for Pocock (44), Garnett for Poore, Sharples for Fisher (49), Hemming for Storie, Clark for Purdy (59), Oliver for Allan (68).