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England v Scotland

It was a tough start to the Women’s Six Nations for Scotland as defending champions England secured a 52-10 victory at Castle Park, Doncaster.

Scotland’s defence held well in the opening exchanges, but following several probing attacks from the hosts, flanker Marlie Packer crossed the line to put the first points on the board, with Emily Scarratt adding the extras (7-0).

Ten minutes later, England were back on the scoreboard as scrum-half Leanne Riley sniped round the ride of a ruck to dot down (12-0).

Scotland started to put in some promising attacks and were creeping their way into the English 22. Following a brief period of pressure, Scotland were given their first opportunity to put points on the board when the Red Roses were penalised for being offside. Stand-off Helen Nelson stepped up to the mark to kick the ball through the uprights (12-3).

England were able to retaliate following a powerful driving maul in which hooker Lark Davies crashed over the line to score, with Scarratt capping it off with a successful conversion (19-3).

The hosts continued to assert their dominance in the closing stages of the first-half and grabbed their bonus point try on the 36th minute when Bryony Cleall darted over the whitewash. Scarratt stretched the lead with another successful conversion (26-3).

Scotland were down to 14 players for the remainder of the first-half as Lisa Thomson was shown a yellow card for a late tackle.

England used the opportunity to mount another attack and with two minutes to go, they were rewarded for their endeavours when Jess Breach turned on the after burners to race over the line, with Scarratt adding the extras.

​HALF-TIME: England 33-3 Scotland

Stirling County’s Evie Gallagher made her Scotland debut for captain Rachel Malcolm at the start of the second half with Liz Musgrove also taking to the field after a long-term injury to replace winger Rachel Shankland.

With a player advantage, England were able to capitalise once more when only four minutes into the second half Jess Breech made a break down the far side of the park to find Helena Rowland who made her way to the try line. Scarrett was good with the conversion once more (40-3).

Scotland were back up to their full contingent of players as Lisa Thomson returned to the pitch, moments later it was Player of the Match Poppy Cleall who reduced the Red Roses to 14 players as she was shown a yellow card.

With the player advantage Scotland scrum-half Mairi McDonald used every opportunity to try to try and take a quick tap. It was on the five-metre line that Groizeleau allowed her to play, she shipped it out to Hannah Smith who was able to use her footwork and power to get over the line for Scotland’s try. Helen Nelson stepping up to convert Smith’s sixth try in a Scotland jersey. (40-10)

With just under twenty minutes to go, England hooker Lark Davies was shown a yellow card. With a two-player advantage it was an opportunity for Scotland to score some more points.

Head Coach Bryan Easson then took the opportunity to ring some changes as Molly Wright, and Jenny Maxwell came on to replace Christine Belisle and Mairi McDonald, respectively.

After only a few moments on the field Molly Wright was shown a red card for contact with the head and it was 14 v 14. As a result Lisa Cockburn replaced Evie Gallagher to ensure a full compliment in the front row.

Heading towards the last ten minutes of the game England were showing their dominance as they attacked the Scotland five-metre line. Scotland’s centre Hannah Smith personified the grit and determination of the team as she turned over the ball at the breakdown, with England only inches away from the try line.

The Red Rose’s asserted their physicality as they marched over for another try in the 71st minute, from the back of a rolling maul, following a lineout. (45-10)

There were more changes in the forwards when Panashe Muzambe and Jodie Rettie replaced Leah Bartlett and Rachel McLachlan with less than ten minutes left on the clock.

With five minutes to go it looked as if England’s Poppy Cleall had controlled the ball enough at the back of the scrum to secure another try for the hosts. However it was Scotland’s replacement scrum-half Jenny Maxwell who was able to assert enough pressure that she knocked it on.

In the last few moments of the match England were awarded a penalty try from a lineout on their five-metre line, Scotland second row Louise McMillian was shown a yellow card for collapsing the maul. (52-10)

Despite a spirited performance of grit and determination it was England’s Red Roses who walked away with the victory at Castle Park.

​FULL-TIME: England 52-10 Scotland

England: Sarah McKenna (Saracens); Lydia Thompson (Worcester Warriors), Emily Scarratt CAPTAIN (Loughborough Lightning), Lagi Tuima (Harlequins), Jess Breach (Harlequins); Helena Rowland (Loughborough Lightning), Leanne Riley (Harlequins); Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins), Lark Davies (Loughborough Lightning), Bryony Cleall (Saracens), Abbie Ward (Harlequins), Cath O’Donnell (Loughborough Lightning), Zoe Aldcroft (Gloucester Hartpury), Marlie Packer (Saracens), Poppy Cleall (Saracens).

Replacements: Amy Cokayne (Harlequins), Detysha Harper (Loughborough Lightning), Shaunagh Brown (Harlequins), Harriet Millar-Mills (Wasps), Vicky Fleetwood (Saracens), Claudia MacDonald (Wasps), Megan Jones (Wasps), Ellie Kildunne (Wasps).

Scotland: Chloe Rollie (Harlequins); Rachel Shankland (Stirling County), Hannah Smith (Watsonians), Lisa Thomson (Unattached), Megan Gaffney (Heriots); Helen Nelson (Loughborough Lightning), Mairi McDonald (Hillhead Jordanhill); Leah Bartlett (Loughborough Lightning), Lana Skeldon (Unattached), Christine Belisle (Cartha Queens Park), Emma Wassell (Corstorphine Cougars), Louise McMillan (Hillhead Jordanhill), Rachel Malcolm CAPTAIN (Loughborough Lightning), Rachel McLachlan (Unattached), Siobhan Cattigan (Stirling County).

Replacements: Molly Wright (Watsonians) for Belisle (60 mins), Panashe Muzambe (Edinburgh University / Watsonians) for Bartlett (71 mins), Lisa Cockburn (Darlington Mowden Park) on 63 mins, Evie Gallagher (Stirling County) for Malcolm (40 mins), Jodie Rettie (Saracens) for McLachlan (71 mins), Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough Lightning) for McDonald (63 mins), Sarah Law (Unattached), Liz Musgrove (Unattached) on for Shankland (40 mins).

Referee: Aurelie Groizeleau (France)
Assistant Referee 1: Beatrice Bevenuti (Italy)
Assistant Referee 2: Maria Pacifico (Italy)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)

Women’s Six Nations Player of the Match: Poppy Cleall (England)

live commentary 3:00 PM Saturday 3 Apr 2021

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