The Red Roses England women’s rugby team secured their first win in the 2021 Women’s Six Nations Championship on Saturday afternoon. Simon Middleton’s side beat Scotland 52-10, scoring eight tries to one.
The current Six Nations title holders – who go into the tournament as clear favourites – got their campaign off to the perfect start at the Doncaster Castle Park ground, in Pool A competition.
Televised live on BBC iPlayer, the Test began successfully from the outset when Bryony Cleall offloaded the ball beautifully to her sister Poppy (see main photo). This allowed Marlie Packer to break through the Scottish defense and score under the posts.
— Women's Six Nations (@Womens6Nations) April 3, 2021
England continued to play some good attacking rugby until Scotland was able to put some points on the board themselves. Helen Nelson kicking three points off the tee. It didn’t take long for England to respond though. It was Lark Davies who barrelled her way over the whitewash for England’s third try of the match. Shortly after, the Red Roses England women’s rugby team secured the bonus point before the end of the first half.
Emily Scarratt had converted three of five first-half tries, and the Red Roses led 33-3 heading into the sheds.
Second half begins with the same intensity as the first
It wasn’t long before England secured their fifth try, fly-half Helena Rowland being the scorer. It was Jess Breach who found a gap in the Scottish defense and was unleashed down the left flank. She then used some dazzling footwork to startle the opposition, before turning to assist the onrushing Rowland.
Scarratt converted that try which brought up a personal milestone of 600 International career points for the 31-year old, 74 cap Red Roses England women’s rugby player.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) April 3, 2021
As the game was approaching the hour mark, England’s discipline began to slip. Poppy Cleall was shown a yellow card, and Scotland was able to capitalize through a Hannah Smith try that was converted by Nelson. Scotland started to show moments of brilliance and enjoyed playing with some freedom, offloading the ball and passing it in different directions, which will be of some positive to take from the opening clash of the 2021 series.
The Red Roses ill-discipline unfortunately continued. England went down to 13 players on the 57-minute mark. Lark Davies was the one to be sin-binned after a high tackle. The real game-changer though was when Scotland replacement, Molly Wright was shown a red card for making head contact with her shoulder. Self-discipline has to be given more consideration if sides are to maintain their momentum at this level.
Scotland then lost all momentum and England gained strength in their pack, by bringing on their fresh replacements. Cleall returned to the field on the 70th minute and joined her sister on the scoreboard, scoring off the back of a five-meter rolling maul. To pour salt into the Scottish wound, the final points of the match were gifted to England on the 78th minute when they were awarded a penalty try.
Final score: 52-10. It was the Red Roses 23rd consecutive victory against the Scots and Poppy Cleall was awarded Man of the Match after putting in a fantastic shift at number eight (even despite the Yellow card). At full time, the England head coach described her as “one of the best players in the world”.
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England played well and dominated the Scots in the scrum. Their defence was solid and they were physical at the breakdown.
In England's 52-10 win over Scotland today, they dominated the tackle stats with the top 5 successful tacklers all English – Zoe Aldcroft (17) Cath O'Donnell (16) BryonyCleall (15) Poppy Cleall (15) & Marlie Packer with 14
— Scrumqueens – Women’s Rugby (@ScrumQueens) April 3, 2021
Yes, they were ill-disciplined in the second half for parts of the game, and their penalty count was high yet when their replacements came on, they blew Scotland away. Their strength in depth within the squad saw them win comfortably. Marlie Packer, the Cleall twins and Helena Rowland were incredible, not to mention Jess Breach.
Simon Middleton of course will be frustrated with the penalties they gave away but, he will also be proud of the way the girls played; individually and as a group, as they put up one heck of a fight and scored some beautiful tries.
Next up, the Red Roses England women’s rugby team play Italy away. It’s sure to be an exciting fixture.
France defeated Wales 53-0 at home, to kick-off their title hopes in Pool B.
“Main photo credit”
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