Sunday, 14 February 2016

Italy Win Keeps England on Course

England Women stayed on course for their first grand slam in four years with a five-try, 33-24 win over Italy in Ivrea.

A week after their 32-0 win in Scotland, England were made to work hard but triumphed thanks to tries from Lauren Cattell, Katie Mason, Lotte Clapp, Abbie Scott and Bianca Blackburn.

Italy, who had never scored more than one try against England, crossed four times themselves and led after 30 seconds, with Maria Grazia Cioffi poaching a try that Veronica Schiavon converted.

Cattell converted her own try to bring England level before Mason nudged the visitors ahead with a second try, which was also converted.

Wing Sofia Stefan cut the gap to two points with Italy’s second try, but Clapp went over to give the Red Rose a 19-12 interval lead.

England had to stay focused, particularly when the margin was again trimmed to two points early in the second half after Cioffi scored again.

Scott charged over for a converted try to hand England a 26-17 cushion, which Blackburn stretched further after some incisive play – before Silvia Folli brought Italy closer on the scoreboard late on.

Sarah Hunter, the England captain, said: “All credit to the way Italy played today, they played some great attacking rugby. They’ve got some physical forwards and some really fast threatening backs.”

She added on the England rugby website: “Of course we are happy with the win but I think we didn’t manage to get full control of the game. We know we are going to have to improve.”

England, who won only twice in last year’s Six Nations campaign, next face Ireland at Twickenham on 27 February, in a match scheduled to take place after the men’s fixture.

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