- England U20s open international season with France win
- Tries for prop Sarah George and flanker Hannah Gallagher in second half
England U20 12 France U20 5
England Women Under 20s overcame a fierce French team to earn an impressive 12-5 victory at Worcester’s Sixways Stadium on Sunday.
The England young guns came back from a 5-0 deficit at half time to run in two tries and seal the victory. Tries for Bristol prop Sarah George and Saracens flanker Hannah Gallagher did the damage for the U20 side, who now be preparing for two fixtures against Scotland and Wales.
England Women U20 Coach Amanda Bennett said: "For us the important thing to achieve today was putting the performance in and if the win came with that then great. The win did come with the performance today so I am delighted.
"We were on the back-foot for the first quarter and France bullied us, but we showed great mental toughness and skill in the second half to come back and actually take control.
"We were up against a very physical and well drilled France team but our second half performance was good, we scored two good tries and we deserved the victory."
Second-half fightback saves game
On a rain soaked pitch France shook off any early cobwebs with some nice early breaks, and looked in control. They had the chance to take the lead early on with a penalty but wing Laura Delas could not make the conversion.
Their chance came again in the opening quarter and the young French team this time took it with a try after 11 minutes. A well worked scrum saw their No.8 Audrey Forlani pick up from the back of a ruck. She couldn’t get over, but eventually hooker Milena Soloch barged her way over the line to score. Delas could not add the extras, leaving England 5-0 adrift at half time,
The tide soon changed for England after the restart though with a well worked 42 minute try proving pivotal to the game’s final outcome. Some good early pressure saw skipper Harriet Mills make an impressive break. She came close to scoring under the posts but was held up just short. The ball was recycled out to the right and prop George found a gap to slice her way through France’s defence and score. With centre Ceri Large adding the conversion England took the lead for the first time.
England maintained that momentum and now started to dominate possession. Gallagher made a great break to gain space upfield but England this time couldn’t do anything with it.
France had the chance to retake the lead with a 63rd minute penalty but again Delas couldn’t make the kick, and instead England again took control.
France then lost Delas to the sin bin, and scrum half Fiona Davidson came close to scoring after a good scrum deep in France’s territory.
It was Gallagher, however, who put England out of reach with a 79th minute try. With England taking a quick penalty the powerhouse flanker, who enjoyed a storming game, barged her way over the try-line to score the decisive touchdown. Large missed the conversion, but it did not matter as England had done enough to secure the victory.
England Women U20 (Club, CB, Division)
15 Lucy Demaine (Bristol, Devon, South West), 14 Katie Mason (Bristol, Somerset, South West), 13 Amber Reed (Bristol, Somerset/Devon, South West), 12 Ceri Large (Worcester, Gloucestershire, South West), 11 Rebecca Hughes (Bristol, Somerset, South West), 10 Natasha Jones (Lichfield, Staffordshire, Midlands), 9 Fiona Davidson (Richmond, Surrey, London & South East), 1 Emily Kingston (Gloucester, Gloucestershire, South West), 2 Daniker Willmore (Bristol, Somerset, South West), 3 Sarah George (Bristol, Devon, South West), 4 Ellen Gattlin (Rochford Hundred, Essex, London & South East), 5 Fiona Fletcher (Lichfield, Staffordshire, Midlands), 6 Hannah Gallagher (Saracens, Hertfordshire, London & South East), 7 Kayleigh Callaway-Bawden (Newquay Hornets (Queen Bees), Cornwall, South West), 8 Harriet Mills (C) (Lichfield, Staffordshire, Midlands).
Replacements: 16 Charlie Notman (Newquay Hornets (Queen Bees), Cornwall, South West), 17 Mica Evans (Exeter Saracens, Devon, South West), 18 Abbie Scott (Keswick, Cumbria, North), 19 Alexandra Matthews (London Irish, Surrey, London & South East), 20 Charlotte Keane (Worcester, Gloucestershire, South West), 21 Emily Scott (Thurrock, Essex, London & South East), 22 Amy Wilson-Hardy (Bristol, Sussex, South West).
Tries: George, Gallagher
Substitutions: Notman for Kingston (40), Matthews for Callaway-Bawden (52), E Scott for Mason (56), Evans for George (67), A Scott for Gattlin (78), Keane for Gatlin (80), Wilson-Hardy for Reed
Referee: Andi Ttofa
Assistant Referees: Sara Cox & Jane Pizii