8.22.08 – from
The reigning Six Nations and European champions faced an altogether different challenge to the US team they played in a friendly fixture on Tuesday and thumped 50-3. The Eagles showed passion and pride to take the game to the hosts and made England throw everything they had to win the tournament opener.
Both sides kicked-off the clash fiercely and although the hosts dominated possession early on, the USA refused to give up and after a physically demanding first 25 minutes the US were awarded a penalty.
Flyhalf Kristin Baja couldn’t stroke the kick over, but their wing Natalie Marchino followed it up and pounced on the wayward ball to dive under the posts and hand the US a surprise lead. Baja, this time, converted to take a 7-0 lead.
England clawed back three points with a Katy McLean penalty and then capitalised on the loss of US prop Jamie Burke to the sin bin as they pressurised America’s line.
A well taken line-out, just five metres out from the try-line, saw England spread the ball out wide through McLean and Amy Turner, who then off-loaded to Michaela Staniford. The Wasps centre then showed her strength to power over the line. With McLean converting England took a 10-7 lead in injury time.
But England’s advantage didn’t last long and the US showed their commitment again after the break by keeping England at bay. They took their chances too, and again were rewarded for it. This time scrumhalf and captain Kim Magrini took a quick tap penalty deep in England’s territory and she caught England unaware to run through and score. Baja again added the conversion to hand the Eagles a 14-10 lead with 53 minutes gone.
England, however, responded to the pressure and with super sub Kim Oliver executing a clever offload to Charlotte Barras, the full-back showed her turn of speed to charge through three defenders and run in and score from 45 metres. Oliver added the conversion to take a 17-14 lead on 64 minutes.
England and the US continued to battle hard and the home side went close to stretching their lead when Staniford made another good break, only to be brought down just short of the line. England instead had to settle for their two tries and take a thrilling 17-14 victory.
England Head Coach Gary Street said: “To take this victory shows the strength of this team. This was a very hard test and we had made 12 changes for the match and that does not help with consistency. However, I thought the team showed tremendous determination, they never gave up and came back and deserved to win.”
England’s Nations Cup campaign continues on Sunday at 17.00 at Esher, while the USA and Canada will clash on Tuesday 26 August. England will also take on Canada in a friendly match on Friday 29 August.
Tries: Staniford, Barras
Cons: McLean, Oliver
Tries: Marchino, Magrini
Cons: Baja 2
England: 15 Charlotte Barras, 14 Katherine Merchant, 13 Michaela Staniford, 12 Amy Turner, 11 Fiona Pocock, 10 Katy McLean, 9 Georgina Rozario, 8 Karen Jones (captain), 7 Gemma Sharples, 6 Sarah Hunter, 5 Joanna McGilchrist, 4 Natalie Binstead, 3 Rosemarie Crowley, 2 Emma Layland, 1 Sophie Hemming
Replacements: 16 Samantha Dale, 17 Katy Storie, 18 Tamara Taylor, 19 Margaret Alphonsi, 20 Danielle Waterman, 21 Kimberley Oliver, 22 Georgina Roberts
USA: 15 Ashley Kmiecik, 14 Vanesha McGee, 13 Lynelle Kugler, 12 Mel Kanuk, 11 Nathalie Marchino, 10 Kristin Baja,, 9 Kim Magrini (captain), 8 Blair Groefsema, 7 Beckett Royce, 6 Mel Denham, 5 Lara Vivolo, 4 Jillion Potter, 3 Jamie Burke, 2 Mari Wallace, 1 Farrah Douglas
Replacements: 16 Lisa Butts, 17 Stacy Baker, 18 Christina Hobson, 19 Allyson Hemstreet, 20 Katy Hertel, 21 San Juanita Moreno, 22 Desiree Markovich
Replacements: Moreno for Kugler (60 min), Hemstreet for Royce (60 min), Baker for Douglas (70 min)
Referee: Claire Daniels
judges: Andrea Ttofa, Becky Patrick
Assessor: Clive Nichola