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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nations Cup: South African sensation, England scare

Some wild weather in Canada resulted in a lack of any live video coverage, but may have also contributed to some fantastic games in the final round of Nations Cup group matches this evening. With the games having no effect on who plays in Saturday's finals these matches might have been relatively uneventful - but there were anything but and the match recordings will be well worth watching when they are posted, hopefully later this morning

First up, South Africa scored a sensational win over the USA. Two early penalties and a try - helped by at least one yellow card - had initially allowed the USA to build up a 13-3 lead, but the South Africans rallied and pulled the game back to 13-13 at half-time. The second half was a desperately exciting affair, every USA score being matched by South Africa. An American try early in the half gave the USA an 18-13 lead, which was quickly cut to 18-16 by a South African penalty. A third USA try, which took the score to 23-16, was matched within five minutes by South Africa's third, cutting the lead again to just two points with five minutes left. The game could have gone either way in those final minutes, reports suggest constant change of possession - but it was South Africa who broke through, scoring a fourth try in the final minute to win 26-23.

In the second game England, as with their opening fixture against the USA, found things very difficult against a determined defence. With Emily Scarratt on kicking duty for the day, England took an early lead from a penalty, but shortly afterwards Canadian centre Amanda Burk broke through the England line to set up Cheryl Phillips to score in the corner. 5-3 to Canada, and that is how it remained until half time.

England seem to have used the break to reorganise their team, bringing on several players including Natasha Hunt and Maggie Alphonsi. The changes were decisive as both scored tries early in the second half, Maggie's try in particular coming from a "perfect play" with some "brilliant handling" from the England backs. The score was now 15-5 to England, but Canada were not beaten - Kayla Mack touching down for the home team midway through the half to bring the difference down to a single score. A tense final 15 minutes was finally eased for England when Amy Garnett, coming on for her 99th cap, scored England's third try with a couple of minutes to go. Emily's conversion extended England's lead to a comfortable 22-10, which is how the game ended.

All teams will have been experimenting a little in these games and things may be very different in Saturday. However, South Africa and Canada will be full of confidence after these performances. On the other hand USA will be determined to finish with something from a tournament that began so well, but has since been derailed, while England will be wanting to finish the tournament with a decisive win - after all the next time they run out after Saturday it will be against New Zealand!

Detailed RFU report


  1. Anonymous2:39 PM

    Hi John,

    Why do you deem a 22-10 victory against Canada (one of the best womens teams in the world), with an ever changing and experimental combination England team a scare?

    I feel credit has not been given to the young players playing in their first major senior tour and players returning from long term injuries. Having been at the game live, it was equally intense a contest as the world cup final. With the England team putting in a stellar performance.

  2. Mainly because it is a single descriptive word that alliterates quite nicely with the rest of the headline.

    And also, more seriously, because - based on the information I had (ie. twitter feeds etc. from the ground) - it seemed appropriate.

    Admittedly it will depend a little on your own impression of the meaning of the word, but I think it would be perfectly reasonable to conclude that "England survived a scare" - to the extent that the use of the word in this context is almost a little hacknied.

    I suspect that being behind at half time to a team that you have never lost to in 15 previous meetings (over nearly 20 years) must have been at least a matter of some small concern to the England management, even if they were not actually "scared". Trouble is as a headline "South Africa sensation, England a bit worried" would not have worked as well.

  3. Ah - I just realised. Did you interpret the headline as my meaning that England did the scaring? Au contraire! What I meant was that England had a scare! Oh well... that's headlines for you... at least it got you to read the article, which is the main thing!


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