Red Roses through to final after big win in Parma
England Women’s Six Nations Squad 2021
England will play in the Women’s Six Nations final on Saturday 24 April as they cannot be overtaken at the top of Pool A after beating Italy 67-3 in Parma.
The Red Roses wrapped up back-to-back Grand Slams with a 54-0 win over Italy last November and, while things did not go as smoothly this time around, four tries in eight second-half minutes ensured their bid for a third straight title remains on track.
After a scoreless first quarter, England took the lead in the 23rd minute with an Emily Scarratt try – but it was against the run of play.
Italy dominated the opening half everywhere but the scoreboard with 61% of possession, but two loose balls were seized upon by the visitors.
Scarratt was the first to profit when a pass went to ground as Italy attacked from a scrum. The ball was picked up by Scarratt, who burst clear from her own half to score under the posts and then converted her own try.
Then on the half-hour mark a pass bounced off the chest of Valeria Fedrighi and into the arms of Meg Jones, who broke into space. She couldn’t make it all the way to the line but offloaded to Vicky Fleetwood, who crossed from close range.
Michela Sillari did get some points on the board from a penalty when Scarratt was sin-binned for a high tackle but Helena Rowland cancelled that out with a kick of her own to give England a 17-3 lead at the break.
England kicked into gear midway through the second period with a flurry of tries. Abby Dow (two), Harriet Millar-Mills and Helena Rownland all crossed between the 54th and 62nd minutes as the toll of Italy’s defensive effort – and their lack of rugby in the past five months – started to tell.
England wrapped up the victory with further tries from Bryony Cleall, Claudia MacDonald and Lark Davies in the last ten minutes.
England team to face Italy – Saturday 10 April
Ellie Kildunne; Jess Breach, Emily Scarratt, Megan Jones, Abby Dow; Helena Rowland, Leanne Riley; Vickii Cornborough, Amy Cokayne, Shaunagh Brown, Zoe Aldcroft, Cath O’Donnell, Alex Matthews, Vicky Fleetwood, Sarah Hunter.
Replacements: Lark Davies, Hannah Botterman, Bryony Cleall, Harriet Millar-Mills, Poppy Cleall, Claudia MacDonald, Zoe Harrison, Sarah McKenna.
England 52-10 Scotland
England started their Women’s Six Nations title defence with a 52-10 victory over Scotland in Doncaster.
The Red Roses had the try bonus point wrapped up after 36 minutes, with Marlie Packer, Leanne Riley, Lark Davies and Bryony Cleall all crossing.
Jess Breach showed her pace to cross late in the first half and she set up Helena Rowland for the sixth try soon after the break to give England a 40-3 lead.
Then momentum swung Scotland’s way. A succession of England penalties gave the visitors a platform from which to attack and they eventually made the pressure tell when Hannah Smith went over. It was the Scots’ first try against England since 2018 having been nilled in their last two encounters.
England’s ill-discipline also saw both Poppy Cleall and Lark Davies sin-binned, while Scotland’s replacement hooker Molly Wright was sent off within minutes of coming on for a dangerous tackle on Vickii Cornborough as she made contact with the prop’s head.
The hosts added two more tries in the last ten minutes through Player of the Match Poppy Cleall and a penalty try to round out a comfortable victory, but it was far from a fluid performance from the tournament favourites. They will be looking to improve their discipline and be more accurate with ball in hand against Italy next Saturday.
England team to face Scotland – Saturday 3 April
Sarah McKenna; Lydia Thompson, Emily Scarratt, Lagi Tuima, Jess Breach; Helena Rowland, Leanne Riley; Vickii Cornborough, Lark Davies, Bryony Cleall, Abbie Ward, Cath O’Donnell, Zoe Aldcroft, Marlie Packer, Poppy Cleall.
Replacements: Amy Cokayne, Detysha Harper, Shaunagh Brown, Harriet Millar-Mills, Vicky Fleetwood, Claudia MacDonald, Megan Jones, Ellie Kildunne.
England Women’s Six Nations Squad 2021
Simon Middleton has named a 38-player squad for the 2021 Women’s Six Nations as England target a third straight championship title having won the Grand Slam in 2019 and 2020.
Captain Sarah Hunter is back from a long injury lay-off, which saw her miss the Red Roses’ final Six Nations match and two France Tests in November.
A number of other players – Zoe Aldcroft, Hannah Botterman, Bryony Cleall, Vicky Fleetwood, Sarah McKenna, Ellena Perry and Lydia Thompson – also return to the squad after missing the autumn Internationals through injury.
However, there are some big names missing for the championship. Prop Sarah Bern is sidelined with a shoulder injury while Natasha Hunt (ankle), Laura Keates (ACL) and Morwenna Talling (ACL) are ruled out too.
Front-rowers Maud Muir and Flo Long, plus backs Ellie Green, Merryn Doidge, Beth Wilcock and Flo Robinson, have also been included as development players.
Head coach Middleton said: “We have a lot of evidence from training to say we’ve raised our intensity and physicality whilst at the same time developing our ability to execute accurately and make good decisions under the pressure. We want a high-tempo, high-energy game with quality play off the back of it.
“The players play week in, week out with the clubs but as a staff group we don’t get that release so it feels like we’ve been preparing forever. We’re all really looking forward to the games and getting into competition mode.”
England start their campaign against Scotland in Doncaster before facing Italy in Parma. Then they will face the team ranked in the same position as them in Pool B – France, Ireland or Wales – on ‘finals day’.
They will also play an exhibition match against France, who they beat twice in November, on 30 April.
England Women’s Six Nations Squad 2021
Jess Breach (4 Nov 1997/Harlequins/Wing)
Merryn Doidge (2 Dec 2000/Exeter/Full-back)
Abby Dow (29 Sep 1997/Wasps FC/Wing)
Ellie Green (21 Jan 2001/Harlequins/Fly-half)
Zoe Harrison (14 Apr 1998/Saracens/Fly-half)
Megan Jones (23 Oct 1996/Wasps FC/Fly-half)
Ellie Kildunne (8 Sep 1999/Wasps FC/Full-back)
Claudia MacDonald (4 Jan 1996/Wasps FC/Scrum-half)
Sarah McKenna (23 Mar 1989/Saracens/Full-back)
Amber Reed (3 Apr 1991/Bristol Bears/Centre)
Leanne Riley (18 Jul 1993/Harlequins/Scrum-half)
Flo Robinson (4 Oct 2001/Exeter/Scrum-half)
Helena Rowland (19 Sep 1999/Loughborough Lightning/Fly-half)
Emily Scarratt (8 Feb 1990/Loughborough Lighting/Centre)
Lydia Thompson (10 Feb 1992/Worcester Warriors/Wing)
Lagi Tuima (16 Jun 1998/Harlequins/Centre)
Beth Wilcock (3 Jan 2001/Harlequins/Wing)
Zoe Aldcroft (19 Nov 1996/Gloucester-Hartpury/Lock)
Sarah Beckett (14 Feb 1999/Harlequins/Back-row)
Hannah Botterman (8 Jun 1999/Saracens/Prop)
Shaunagh Brown (15 Mar 1990/Harlequins/Prop)
Bryony Cleall (12 Jun 1992/Saracens/Prop)
Poppy Cleall (12 Jun 1992/Saracens/Back-row)
Amy Cokayne (11 July 1996/Harlequins/Hooker)
Vickii Cornborough (3 Mar 1990/Harlequins/Prop)
Lark Davies (3 Mar 1995/Loughborough Lightning/Hooker)
Vicky Fleetwood (13 Apr 1990/Saracens/Back-row)
Detysha Harper (23 Oct 1998/Loughborough Lightning/Prop)
Sarah Hunter (19 Sep 1985/Loughborough Lightning/Back-row)
Flo Long (24 Oct 2000/Worcester Warriors/Prop)
Alex Matthews (3 Aug 1993/Worcester Warriors/Back-row)
Harriet Millar-Mills (16 Apr 1991/Wasps FC/Back-row)
Maud Muir (12 Jul 2001/Wasps FC/Back-row)
Cath O’Donnell (13 Jun 1996/Loughborough Lightning/Lock)
Marlie Packer (28 Apr 1989/Saracens/Back-row)
Ellena Perry (12 Apr 1997/Gloucester-Hartpury/Prop)
Emily Robinson (22 Jun 2000/Harlequins/Back-row)
Abbie Ward (27 Mar 1993/Harlequins/Lock)
MORE ON THE WOMEN’S SIX NATIONS
All you need to know about the countries…
This year’s championship will take place in April…
England Women’s Six Nations Fixtures 2021
(All kick-off times are UK & Ireland time)
Sat 3 April, England 52-10 Scotland
Sat 10 April, Italy v England (2pm, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma) Live on BBC iPlayer/RTE Player
Sat 24 April, England v Pool B team ranked in same position (2pm) Live on BBC2/RTE Player
Six Nations Exhibition Match
Fri 30 April, France v England (8pm, Villeneuve d’Ascq) Live on BBC iPlayer
Don’t miss a game with this Women’s Six Nations TV coverage guide.
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