07 August 2020
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Rugby: England Women U20s crowned Nations Cup champions

July 25, 2011

England Women Under 20s lifted the Nations Cup crown on Saturday night after a 48-11 victory over hosts the USA in Santa Barbara.

The tourists ran in eight tries with Saracens’ flanker Hannah Gallagher once again in the thick of the action scoring a hat-trick, and Bristol’s Rebecca Hughes also claiming a brace of tries. England were in superb form, especially in the first half, but the USA fought back after the restart to score one try and two penalties.

The Final victory also saw England cap a tremendous season which has seen England win every game they have played in, defeating the USA, Canada, South Africa, Wales, Scotland and France.

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England U20s Head Coach Amanda Bennett said: “This is a fantastic result not just for all the U20s players but for England Rugby. Since the squad came together in October we have made significant improvements in our game and these have culminated in a great team performance and winning the 2011 Nations Cup.

“Against the USA, we were outstanding in the first 40 playing at the tempo and in the style we had planned. But after the break the USA were ferocious, coming out with a desire to restore pride and put points on the board. Their physical approach really tested us and it showed in the second-half score-line.

“We have beaten every team we have faced this year which is a wonderful achievement. The true test now for each of these players is not just to enjoy this moment but to build on this success and take their game to the next level.”

England started at a furious pace and put their marker down early on. After just three minutes Bristol wing Hughes was on the score-board. England secured the ball from a line-out, and although England were tackled hard they retained possession before the ball was then fed out-wide to Hughes who crossed with ease.

Fiona Fletcher stretched England’s lead to 10-0 on 12 minutes after a quick tap and go caught the USA on the hop, which wasn’t helped by the loss of America’s Colleen Carey who was in the sin bin.

Gallagher secured the first of her two tries on 15 minutes when she stepped her way through America’s defence to cross the line under the posts in an excellent display of power and pace. Amber Reed this time added the conversion.

Natasha Jones added England’s fourth 30 minutes in before Fiona Davidson wrapped up a dominant first-half for England with try number five. From a scrum on 50 metres skipper Harriet Mills picked up and offloaded to the Richmond scrum-half who touched down for what was probably the best individual try of the tournament. Davidson attacked hard and out-flanked the defence to go within touching distance of the try-line. As the USA closed in Davidson chipped ahead and then retrieved the ball on the bounce to score the impressive try. Reed added the conversion to make the score 31-0 at half-time.

England maintained the same tempo after the restart, with Charlotte Keane taking a quick tap penalty. She stepped her way through the USA’s defence before offloading to Gallagher who broke through the midfield and then America’s last line of defence to score her second.

The hosts, however, finally had their chance to put some points on the board when England were penalised for holding on. Centre Amelia Bizer stroked over the penalty.

The tables turned again though with America paying the price for an error in their own 22 which saw England force the scrum. England then attacked down the left hand side for Hughes to run in and score her brace.

The USA brought the score back to 41-6 with a second Bizer penalty and then their first try making the score 41-11 with Amy Naber taking the points. The USA changed tactics keeping the ball in hand until England’s defence had been sucked in. They then kicked into England’s 22 which created pressure and forced mistakes, finally seeing the ball go loose and Naber picking up to score.

England rallied after the USA score and Reed ran hard to break America’s defensive line and although she was stopped just short of the try-line she managed to offload to Gallagher who then completed her hat-trick. With Reed adding the conversion England took the final 48-11 victory and the Nations Cup crown.

Julia Hutton, RFU
Sportsister, The Women’s Sports Magazine

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